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Why it's essential to keep updating the OS, apps, and games on your smartphone

18 August, 2021 App Updates

Adults in the US

 

Adults in the US spend more than three hours a day on their smartphones performing critical tasks like responding to emails and paying bills, and indulging in leisure time via social media apps, video streaming sites, and games.

 

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With the feature-rich mobile phone now playing an ever more prominent role in our lives, both at work and home, it has become more important to keep these devices updated. The quality of software can be just as crucial to the quality of a user's experience on a phone as the raw specs that power the device.

 

That means to keep devices running optimally and securely, you need to install software updates - both for the operating system and the apps you have installed on your phone. Failure to do this can lead to performance and security-related issues, leaving you exposed to malicious attacks or preventing your devices from working as intended.

 

Fortunately, Google releases security updates for Android every month and rolls out a new version with fresh features and UI tweaks every year. Apple follows a similar schedule with iOS, a mobile operating system that runs exclusively on the iPhone. These operating systems contain the utilities and services that make your device usable.

 

What kind of updates are there?

Updates for phones are not always the same. They can generally be categorized into three different types - stability, security, and OS. Stability updates are rolled out to fix crashes or problems with the software and are usually focused solely on delivering a better user experience. These updates are important following the release of a new OS, as teething issues are likely.

 

Security updates are arguably the most important in terms of protecting mobile phone users. That is because they make changes and fix known flaws that prevent third parties from hacking your phone and accessing personal information.

 

Finally, there are OS updates that can completely change the look and feel of a phone. A new operating system will add new features and usually iterate on the previous OS's improvements. Major OS updates only release once a year, but incremental OS updates for fixes and stability are rolled out regularly.

 

What about games and apps?

Outside of the OS, games and apps can also be updated. Developers will regularly release new features and make fixes that will require you to download and update apps to access them. These updates are usually triggered automatically, though you can manually "update all" games and apps via the App Store on Apple devices.

 

Developers often provide updates after a new OS has been released as apps and games often require changes to be compatible with new versions of Android and iOS. It is a good idea to regularly check for updates for the OS and your apps to be sure everything is secure, compatible, and ready to go when you need it.

 

Why is it important to update regularly?

According to Apple, downloading the latest software update is among the "most important things" a user can do to maintain product security. That is because updates fix vulnerabilities that attackers target to compromise your device by encrypting files and stealing data.

 

Google's guidance about updating apps also notes that updating apps enables users to get the "latest features" while improving "app security and stability." Everything new that developers have been working on will be included in these regular app updates.

 

However, research by NetMarketShare found just a quarter of Android users had updated to the latest version of the OS software last year. Additionally, a report from Which? claimed around four in ten Android users are using versions that are outdated and no longer receive security updates.

 

In this instance, it is best to buy a new phone eligible for the latest updates. Mobile phone manufacturers typically provide security and OS updates for at least two or three years. However, Apple has recently set a precedent by rolling out updates to iPhones five or more years old. For example, iOS14 is available on the iPhone 6S, which launched way back in 2015.

 

For games, updating your phone will enable you to get the latest and best version of them. When a game first launches, bugs and issues can hamper the playing experience, and developers use updates to improve quality and stability over time. For multiplayer games, updating may also be necessary to play in competitive online playlists.

 

Browser-based apps like Chrome and Firefox also receive updates. By downloading and installing these, you can be sure that you are getting the best, most secure experience when playing at online casino sites and navigating to your favorite news or shopping platforms.

 

Conclusion

Without updates, your phone will be left vulnerable to security threats, and you will be unable to play the latest versions of games or enjoy new features in apps and across a mobile OS. While some critical updates are downloaded automatically, you should get in the habit of checking for updates regularly for the peace of mind that everything is secure and able to perform optimally.

 

Which? advises users with older smartphones that reached the "end of life" to be more cautious when browsing the web and downloading apps or files as there is a greater security risk. It also recommends backing up data and using an antivirus app. The best long-term solution here is to buy a new phone that can download OS, game, and app updates regularly and has support for security and stability fixes. Whatever the circumstances, updating your phone is vital for a variety of reasons.

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