Google has no more excuses than to extend support for Pixel software updates
NVIDIA recently updated the 2015 Shield TV to Android 11, marking 7 years of software support for the timeless streamer. This makes the Shield the best Android device ever supported.
The rest of Android comes closest to Samsung’s recent changes which will see the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy Fold 3 receive 5 years of software updates, including 4 major Android OS updates.
You’d expect Google, the custodian of Android, to offer better Pixel software support than any other third-party vendor, but the search giant has nothing on NVIDIA in that regard.
Top owners of the latest Google Pixel 6 phones can get 4 years of software updates that include 3 major OS updates. If anything, NVIDIA now sits on the same high table with Apple.
One of the top iOS users often takes aim at their Android counterparts due to limited software update support, with a significant number of OEMs only offering one or two major OS updates for their devices.
However, we all know for a fact that Apple controls just about everything, from the low-level SoC design to all the software aspects that run on it.
On the other hand though, with most Android vendors these chipsets are outsourced from Qualcomm and MediaTek. Unfortunately, these chipmakers often get in the way of device makers when it comes to writing new software updates.
Some parts of the low-level chipset firmware need to be updated by the chipmaker before a smartphone vendor can release a new OS update for the device in question, something Qualcomm and co. are not always willing to do so.
That’s what sets NVIDIA’s Shield TV apart from the rest. Unlike others that rely on Qualcomm, MediaTek and others for their chipsets, the Shield TV runs on an internal Tegra processor.
Having an in-house chipset means that NVIDIA controls all aspects of the low-level design, making it easy to support and update the product without requiring third-party intervention.
As noted, chipmakers need to update certain parts of the chipset framework to support new versions of an operating system, but with full control of this low-level hardware, NVIDIA takes care of those updates instead of relying on third parties to do so.
Today, Qualcomm’s update commitment guarantees 4 Android OS upgrades, which Samsung is now offering. Opting for in-house silicon freed Nvidia from the shackles of Qualcomm, allowing software support for as long as the Tegra SoC can handle it.
Certainly, especially bearing in mind Apple’s in-house iPhone chipsets that allow for as many updates as possible, there’s no reason Google shouldn’t offer longer Pixel software support in the future. , now that Tensor is an internal chipset.
I wouldn’t say I know a whole lot about the whole design process, but Google pushed the narrative that Tensor is an internal chipset, so the assumption is that every part of the chipset’s low-level design is managed internally.
Being in charge of low-level design means that Google will no longer rely on Qualcomm to update parts of the chipset software to support a new operating system. Instead, Google will make these updates itself, enabling software support for Tensor-powered Pixel devices for as long as possible.
After all, the chipset already supports standards that might still be in use years from now, including 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, media encoding like H.264, H.265, VP9, and AV1, which means there won’t be anything many years later.
Samsung having increased software support to 5 years, it remains to be seen what Google has in store for us to counter this measure. And I can’t help but think it’s only a matter of time before an official comment is released on this.
In the meantime, be sure to join the conversation in the comments and also vote on the Twitter poll below. We will share the survey results in a week.
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— PiunikaWeb (@PiunikaWeb) February 6, 2022
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