Smartphone vendors and mobile carriers are continuing to prepare Android Marshmallow 6 updates to add new features to many older handsets, even as Android is preparing to unveil its next-generation of the operating system, Android N, later this fall.
Many smartphones have been or are being updated from Android 5 Lollipop, but not all device models will get the latest operating system, depending on mobile carriers and the hardware of the devices.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 handsets will get Marshmallow 6.0.1 updates from AT&T on March 14, according to an article by PhoneArena, a week after Verizon released its Note 5 Marshmallow updates.
Android Marshmallow first began appearing on new Google Nexus smartphones in October 2015.
The updates took a while for Samsung because the smartphone maker made many customizations to the core Marshmallow code, especially in a TouchWiz interface, according to the article.
"This system-level engagement, however, means that carriers, and Samsung itself, have to run much more testing," the article continued. "That is why Samsung's high-end handsets on U.S. carriers are taking about six months from the Marshmallow release to be updated."
By waiting, however, users will gain many more improvements, the article continued, including a redesigned interface, other new features and a new browser with security modes.
T-Mobile and Sprint have also been rolling out updates for Samsung Galaxy S6 handsets for their customers, according to a March 12 article by NeuroGadget. Similar updates for Galaxy S6 Edge users are also being released by Samsung in the near future, the story continued.
Samsung announced on Feb. 15 that it would start its Marshmallow 6.0 updates with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones, with other Galaxy devices to follow.
"For upgradable models, Samsung will make separate announcements on details of the OS updates schedule for each market according to market situation and carriers' requirements," the company said in a statement. "With the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update, Samsung provides the enhanced edge screen and new edge screen features, which are the unique user interface of the beautifully curved edge screen to the next level, making it faster and more convenient than ever."
LG began releasing Marshmallow updates for many of its smartphone models in late 2015, including its LG G Stylo handsets, while LG G4 and LG V10 updates are continuing to roll out, depending on carrier, according to a March 14 article by NashvilleChatter.
Android Marshmallow is still only on a small number of Android devices owned by users today. The latest numbers on Google's Android developers dashboards show that Marshmallow is currently installed on only a bare 2.3 percent of all devices. Meanwhile, about 36 percent are on Lollipop, the previous version of Android, while 34 percent are still on KitKat, an Android version released in November 2013. More than one in five Android devices, a full 22 percent, run the Jelly Bean edition that Google released in October 2012.
Earlier in March, in a somewhat unexpected move, Google gave developers what it described as a "really early" look at the next version of its Android mobile operating systems, code-named Android N, according to a recent eWEEK story. Android N will offer several updates, including support for a split-screen or multi-window mode, faster responses to incoming messages, bundled message notification, better battery efficiency and more Java 8 language features. Google's Developer Preview includes a software development kit that developers can use to test Android N apps on Google's line of Nexus devices and on the company’s Android emulator.
The Android N initial preview release is meant only for developers and is not ready for consumer use. The plan is for Google to continue to pushing out updates frequently during the Developer Preview program. When the product is closer to being finished, Google will give consumers an opportunity to put the new operating system through its paces.
Google's Android N preview comes just five months after the company began rolling out devices based on Android Marshmallow, the previous major release of the operating system.