Getting phone makers and carriers to update to the latest version of Android has been one of the thorniest challenges facing Google as it tries to widen the use of its mobile software and generate more sales from its apps and web services.
Now, Google is getting serious about remedying what ails Android, and it’s using both carrots and sticks to get partners to keep the world’s most popular mobile operating system more up to date.
The issue -- a mishmash of different smartphones running outdated software lacking the latest security and features -- has plagued Android since its debut in 2007. But Google has stepped up its efforts recently, accelerating security updates, rolling out technology workarounds and reducing phone testing requirements.
The Alphabet Inc. unit is also getting tougher, drawing up rankings that could shame some phone makers into better behavior, according to people familiar with the situation.
Keeping Android fresh and unified is crucial because that’s how Google delivers its money-making search engine and new offerings, like the Daydream virtual reality system, in an increasingly mobile world. This only works when phone makers and wireless carriers quickly update devices to newer versions of the operating system.