2016-11-19

The Smartphone Industry Isn't Green.

Google and Apple.  They're doing us wrong.  They don't build things to last.

Let me take that back.  They -do- build things to last.  But they withdraw security patching from their products way too early, making older devices a literal danger to use.

I love my iPhone 4.  But it is stuck at iOS 7, and who knows if it has dangerous vulnerabilities.  It is unclear if Apple is watching over iOS7, and it is a safe bet that Apple will never release a security patch for their older devices even if dangerous vulnerabilities are known to exist.

Don't get me wrong: I think Apple is right to leave the iPhone 4 at iOS 7.  After all, the iPhone 4 was designed and developed long ago.  Technology has moved forward, and no one in their right mind can expect an old device to run the latest and greatest operating system.

But I'm not talking about that.  I'm talking about security patches for over a million useful, active devices that are "stuck" at iOS7.  The security of a million+ people are at risk.  Certainly Apple won't say that they want them to all go in the recycle bin (or, just as likely, the garbage bin).  But certainly nobody wants to use an insecure device.

I don't mind if Apple charges a nominal fee for such support.  $5 a device per year?  No problem.   That way Apple could cover its costs of a team to work and address issues.  And clearly there should be an end-point - for instance, the vintage iPhone/3G/3GS models are pretty obsolete.  Maybe there should be some kind of OS software switch that just turns old smartphones into a dumbphone, and disables all the stuff that has a higher potential for a security failure.

Now Google's Android platform is just as bad, if not worse.  Many Android phones currently in retail have major security flaws, and it seems like no one - not the manufacturers, not the retailers, nor Google seem to give a crap.

The auto industry is actually better at fixing dangerous cars after their release.  Smartphone makers should take it upon themselves to at least rise to the level of the auto industry.

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