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Android security patch downloads increased by 84% in Q4 2018

Google's Mountain View campus
Google's Mountain View campus (Image credit: Android Central)

Once a year for the last five years, Google releases something called the "Android Security & Privacy Year In Review" — essentially a look back at the past year and the overall state of security for Android as a whole.

This year's report covers a lot of ground, but one number that stands out the most is the increase in security patch downloads. In Q4 2018, Google reports a year-over-year growth of 84%. In other words, a lot more devices are getting necessary security patches to keep them safe and secure.

To reach that number, Google attributes the success to Android One, the Android Enterprise Recommended Program, and "new OEM agreements."

On a similar note, as of December 2018, more than 95% of all Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL handsets had a security update that was released within the last 90 days.

Elsewhere in the report, Google talks about PHAs — also known as Potentially Harmful Applications. This includes stuff like spyware, phishing apps, and trojans. In 2018, Google says that just 0.08% of devices that only used the Google Play Store for downloading applications were affected by these PHAs. In 2018 alone, Google blocked 1.6 billion attempted PHA installations

Compared to 2017 when 0.45% of Android devices had PHAs despite exclusively using the Play Store, that's an improvement of 20% YoY.

The entire report is around 30 pages long, so if you feel like diving into all of the nity gritty, feel free to give it a look.

Read the full report

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

  • Yawn... Q4 increase likely because a lot of older phones and tablets finally got a (rare) patch or at long last upgrade to Oreo.
  • Reading this on a Sony Xperia with the September 2018 security patch update, and my Note 4 with the August 2017 security patch doesn't make me feel safe or reassured. I also have an iPhone 6s, released in 2015, that I updated this week to the latest version of IOS containing numerous security fixes. I know I'm comparing apples and oranges here and overall I do prefer the Android experience, but what a contrast!
  • Sony mobile sucks and the Note 4 is almost 5 years old. Samsung has been pretty good with updates recently. The Galaxy S7 which is 3 years old is still getting security patches.
  • Yeah, my 6 is updating right now, but I have to admit that Apple's updates have been pretty buggy. I hope the current one fixes some of the performance problems and makes game play better.