Why Google decided to offer 7 years of updates to the Pixel 8

Along with the launch of the Pixel 8, Google announced that it would offer operating system updates for a full seven years, surpassing many competitors. This support covers everything from full Android updates to regular Pixel feature enhancements and security updates.

But, How did Google decide to set this seven-year period? The company’s vice president of devices and services, Seang Chau, has now discussed this point in the latest episode of the Made by Google podcast.

It turns out that this seven-year promise wasn’t an arbitrary decision; was calculated after studying the lifespan of Google’s first Pixel smartphone using data from active users.

So when we looked at where the original Pixel that we launched in 2016 ended up and how many people were still using the first Pixel, we found that there’s actually a pretty good active user base until about year seven.

So if we think about it: OK, we want to support the Pixel for as long as people use the device, then seven years is about the right number.

With the shift towards using custom Tensor processors Google was gradually able to offer better software support. This process began with the Pixel 6, where software and security updates increased to five years (versus three years for the Pixel 4 and Pixel 5).

With Tensor still a few years under our belt, we’ve been able to really figure out how to make these upgrades better. (The company) has felt much more comfortable saying we can take advantage of those seven years and serve our customers over that longer period of time.

The transition to year-round beta programs with quarterly platform releases also played an important role in the decision to undertake such a commitment.

Now that we have these beta programs year-round, we are much more confident that we will provide a reliable update to users on a quarterly basis because we have many beta testers.

This ensures that the features we transition from annual releases to these quarterly releases work and work well for our users.

Chau said that as users near the end of this seven-year commitment, Google plans to prioritize software-only features that don’t require additional RAM, storage, coprocessor or “other hardware features” in the hopes that the Pixel phones will run smoothly for longer .

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