I'm new to Android and I'm thinking about buying an entry-level Android device.

Yesterday I read that Android passwords are stored in plain text. That got me to thinking... how do Android devices get security updates? I know that OS upgrades aren't available to every Android phone, so I was wondering how vulnerabilities like these will be patched. Does it depend on the goodwill carriers?

  • 2
    Please note that the plain text passwords in Android are no different from any other email client that uses standard protocols (IMAP/POP3). They have to store the password in order to function. That's even explained in the article you link to. Still: good question. Jul 26, 2011 at 11:03

1 Answer 1


Android updates are given three basic classifications: major, minor, security. (I'm looking for a source for this, but I've been unable to find it thus far.)

Security upgrades, at least, are supposed to be part of the core code and have the least disruption to customizations the carrier and/or manufacturer have made.

However, it's still up to the carrier and/or manufacturer to take the update and incorporate it into their particular flavor of the OS. Some are better at it than others.

  • Hmm, I had gotten the impression that some security updates were pushed out without manufacturer/carrier participation ... similar to how they push out updates for the Market. Can't find any references though. Jul 26, 2011 at 14:18
  • For particular apps, sure.
    – ale
    Jul 26, 2011 at 14:47
  • Yeah, I thought the Gingerbreak exploit was fixed with a pushed-out update but it looks like I was confused. Jul 26, 2011 at 14:52
  • What if you're on a small carrier that doesn't pay any attention to the Android platform? Will I be able to install updates in that case? And why does the manufacturer have to be involved in the Android upgrades? Why can't you just install the latest version of "vanilla" Android no matter which phone you have?
    – Pieter
    Jul 27, 2011 at 9:34
  • @Pieter: Because it just doesn't work that way. Even the "Google Experience" phones needed to work with the carriers and manufacturers to get an update out when it was done. Granted, it took less time, but carriers and manufacturers have their own customizations to Android that need to be cared for. Microsoft has tried to avoid that with their very strict hardware requirements, but even so Windows Phone updates don't get out to everyone right away.
    – ale
    Jul 29, 2011 at 16:29

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