I’ve been pretty vocal in the past about making the switch from iPhone to Android and back again. I’ve said it over and over again, iPhones are just better phones all-around.
To put it plainly, they just work out of the box where Android devices tend to be messy and complicated.
Well, we just got yet another messy and complicated piece of information about Android to once again strengthen my anti-Droid claims.
We’ve recently learned about a hacking vulnerability that affects almost everyone with an Android phone, and it’s so easy to take advantage of that it’s hard to believe. Basically, a hacker can simply send a message to an Android phone and infect it. That’s how ridiculously simple it is.
The important thing to note here, though, is that this malware (called “Stagefright”) affects Android devices running version 2.2 or later. That’s an old version of Android, meaning just about every single Android phone in use today is vulnerable. Google says it put out a fix, but it’s unclear how many phones actually got it.
Android isn’t one consistent operating system. It’s open source, which means each manufacturer like Samsung, LG, and HTC can go in and change it with their own unique features. So while that may help differentiate one Android phone from another, it also means most people are slow to get the latest Android updates. That means there are likely a lot of Android phones out there that are still vulnerable to Stagefright.
Why does that matter in the context of iPhone vs. Android? Because if some crazy bit of malware vulnerability was found on iOS, you would get a patch available to your device very quickly. iOS is the same across all Apple devices, so Apple can push out emergency updates right away to all users if it needs to.
Google, on the other hand, made its choice a long time ago. If you have a phone running Android it could be through a ton of different manufacturers. And you’re at their mercy for getting Android operating system updates.
In a post for Motherboard, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, similarly struggling with a lost love for Android, notes Google’s crucial early choice:
As security expert Cem Paya put it, that was a conscious decision Google made when it created Android. Paya called it a Faustian deal: “cede control over Android, get market-share against iPhone.” Basically, Google was happy to let carriers put their bloatware on their Android phones in exchange to having a chance to fight Apple for in the mobile market. The tradeoff was giving carriers and manufacturers control over their Android releases, leaving Google unable to centrally push out operating system updates.
We know that Security firm Pulse Secure reported 97% of all mobile malware is designed to target Android in its own Mobile Threat Report in June.
Usually an update patch does the trick but check out these numbers. Only 12.4% of Android users have been able to update to the latest version of Android. Meanwhile, 85% of iOS users have upgraded to the latest version of its operating system. So there’s really no knowing the kind of protections an Android user will have on his or her device. And they certainly can’t expect any swift action with new malware that pops up.
You could very easily say this fact alone should scare off most Android users. The idea that someone could just send me a run-of-the-mill message and infect my phone is a scary thought.
I’ve been convinced for a while now that iPhones are flat out the better option for a number of reasons based on features, usability, and reliability. But this security issue is really hitting home for people now, and I couldn’t be more happy that I switched back to Apple.
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