Every year, it happens like clockwork: I publish my six-month-long, data-driven analysis of how Android device-makers are doing when it comes to getting operating system updates onto their phones — and within a matter of hours, the standard responses start a-rollin’ in:

I don’t need any of the features from Pie, and my phone already had some of ’em, anyway — so what’s the difference?

I doubt anyone who owns a Samsung phone even knows what version of Android their phone is running, so who cares?

Whatever. Android upgrades don’t even matter anymore.

For some reason, seeing cold, hard data about how long it takes phone-makers to provide post-sales software support really gets a certain subset of people all riled up. Since my latest Android Upgrade Report Card, focused on Pie, just came out the other day, I thought I’d take a few minutes to address this curious and consistent drive to defend what should be a universally indefensible indifference from the companies to which we pay hundreds of our hard-earned dollars.

Let’s make it simple, shall we? You may or may not care about an Android update’s marquee features or interface changes, but such front-facing elements aren’t all an OS release entails. New Android versions almost always contain significant under-the-hood improvements along with important security and privacy enhancements — things that go beyond the little fixes provided in those separate monthly patches. They also introduce both expansions and restrictions to APIs, which are what permit third-party apps to interact with your phone and data and perform a variety of advanced functions.

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