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O2 Social Media Team
Posts: 1,009
Registered: ‎27-11-2013

[Q&A] Software Updates on O2

[ Edited ]

Software_Updates.png

Hey everyone,

We frequently see threads and comments from customers on the Community asking questions such as ‘where’s firmware z’, ‘why does network B have update x and you don’t’, etc. It’s not always an easy or straight forward answer, but in most instances any issues or delays don’t sit with O2. So, let us help fill you in and put you in the know Smiley Happy.

Q. How do software updates work at O2?

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A. In most instances, this involves the vendor (eg, Huawei, Sony, Samsung etc) sending us their generic UK version of the firmware, which we then test and either a) approve, or b) decline – in some cases the vendor will put the update on hold to create a new one for us to test, or create one specific to us if it doesn’t impact the other UK networks.

Q. Why would you decline an update?

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A. This does not happen often, but this will typically be down to 1 of 2 reasons…

1) We found a general bug that we believe impacts the customer experience to a point we’re not comfortable approving it. For example, a battery drain bug, device crashing, slow performance.
2) We found a bug that impacts our network. For example, it sends more network requests than usual which could impact our network performance, or we found a bug that impacts the customer experience of sending a text or making a call etc.

If it means the software is delayed to resolve customer experience issues, this is something we are 100% behind – we want our customers to have a reliable and positive experience and hope our customers understand and agree with this ethos.

Q. Do you add bloatware?

Spoiler

A. We don’t. When we approve a software update, we generally apply what’s called a customisation script. In most instances this will change some settings (such as the correct APN, voicemail, MMS settings, automatic connecting to Wifi Extra, Wifi calling). In addition we also include a package of apps for you to download as part of your device setup. This, in most cases, puts an 'O2 Recommends' folder on your device. If you bought your phone from O2, this folder will contain a range of apps from O2 and selected 3rd parties. If you bought your phone from someone else, then you may only see My O2, plus O2 Priority on some devices.

During device setup you can select which apps to download, with the exception of My O2 and O2 Priority. We include these automatically due to the nature of the services they provide. My O2 is your account management app, and O2 Priority provides exclusive offers for you as an O2 customer.

Q. Does your customisation script add or change software features, such as camera settings?

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A. No. Our customisation script only changes settings that’d relate to how the device works or operates on our network. We will never change settings or other features, such as advanced or special settings for your camera app for instance.

Q. How quickly do you approve updates?

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A. If it’s just a security update, then this is often turned around within a matter of days.  If it’s a software update with fixes, new features or other changes, then it could take us up to 2 weeks from receiving it to test and approve it.

Q. Why did ‘Network Z’ get this update on *insert date* and I’m still waiting?

Spoiler
A. We work closely with our vendors and we always aim to at the very least have our update become available at the same time as our competitor networks, but unfortunately this may not always be the case and may be impacted by various issues such as:

A) We find a bug/issue that impacts us and not others (or it doesn’t bother others as much as us)
B) Network Z may have had a different agreement with the vendor to get the update sooner
C) Unforeseeable issue on the vendor side, where they release the update for Network Z, but not others – in these circumstances we’ll notify the vendor as soon as we become aware, and work with them to try and ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Q. Why is Android so fragmented, and only a small percentage of devices are on Android Pie?

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A. This is something you’d need to ask Google, but it’s worth bearing in mind that this is likely down to a combination of the hardware and the vendor. New versions of Android may have features and/or API’s that won’t be compatible with older hardware, or older hardware may not have the performance required to provide a positive experience.

It may also be down to the vendor and if they see the value or need to create a version of it for their devices, especially older generation ones. Unless a vendor provides us with the update, it’s not something we can release… To be clear – just because Android Pie is ‘out’, we as a network cannot provide this update for your device unless the vendor specifically makes a version of it available to us for that device.

Q. Why is ‘Update or build number XYZ’ available in other countries, but not the UK?

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A. This is typically down to some updates being specific to certain markets, or the update being rolled out in a certain market first to do a ‘soak test’. In the case of the latter, it’s not uncommon for a vendor to release an update in a certain market several weeks or even months before it rolls out to Europe / UK or other markets.

Q. Why is ‘Update or build number XYZ’ available on Network Z, but not on O2?

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A. It’s not uncommon for this to happen in the UK market, and it’s down to how other networks work. Our Wifi calling technology for instance may have a different implementation to other networks, so Network Z for instance may need an update to address Wifi calling issues that our customers have no issues with – thus, that build/update wouldn’t apply to us.

Q. I’ve heard there’s a new update out. I want it for the new features – but what’s in it?

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A. There are two types of software update:
1) An Android security patch that only looks to address security concerns with the Android operating system.
2) A software update that more often than not will only fix bugs or issues (and more often than not, very minor ones that most customers won’t notice or need) – but does sometime add various features, settings or options.

Q. Google releases monthly security patches, but I don’t get one every month. Why?

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A. These updates come to us through the vendor directly – not from Google unless it's their Pixel devices. We have a tighter turnaround for these security updates than normal software updates, with us typically approving the SW in a matter of days after we receive them. After the O2 approval, it’s entirely in the hands of the vendor to release this to customers – sometimes they’ll do this immediately, and other times they may wait to get approvals from all UK networks (or even markets) first.

Q. Update X is available on Network X that I want and you don’t have yet. Can I get this manually?

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A. Under no circumstance would we recommend to update your device manually with firmware you’ve downloaded online. Even by following online guides correctly, you could end up bricking your device – and as you’d be installing software not approved by O2, this could void your warranty.

See this question for why the update may not be available on O2 – there’s a good chance this is a minor update intended for a specific network, that you’d see no benefit from installing.


We know there’s a lot of questions here, but we wanted to create a comprehensive thread around Android updates that we hope helps answer most of the common questions we receive. If there’s something you feel we’ve missed, please let us know in the comments below and we’ll see if it’s something we should add.

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Level 9: Fired up
Posts: 280
Registered: ‎22-04-2017

Re: [Q&A] Software Updates on O2

Got one question would o2 actually be doing away with having to wait for them to approve as now your phone's come unlocked so if that the case what would be the point in having the o2 firmware
Posts: 58,933
Topics: 635
Registered: ‎14-01-2013

Re: [Community Q&A] Software Updates on O2

Thanks for the information @Chris_K. Very interesting and will help us to point people to the direction of this post when general questions are asked.

*The Game Is On*


O2 Social Media Team
Posts: 1,009
Registered: ‎27-11-2013

Re: [Q&A] Software Updates on O2

[ Edited ]

@liggerz87 wrote:
Got one question would o2 actually be doing away with having to wait for them to approve as now your phone's come unlocked so if that the case what would be the point in having the o2 firmware

You're correct in that the majority of devices purchased from O2 now arrive unlocked to be able to use any SIM card (and you can unlock free at any time on Pay Monthly or Pay As You Go - more info here), but as the majority of these devices will still be used by O2 customers on the O2 network, we're obliged to ensure the software updates our customers receive work as expected and without issues or faults that would impact the user experience - whether with the phone itself, or via our network.

For instance, if we bypassed our approval process and Vendor A released Update X which completely broke Wifi Calling and sent 100x more network requests than usual, this would provide the customer a poor experience in which they believe O2 is at fault, and also potentially impact our network. Our approvals process should in theory spot such issues and ensure this sort of thing never becomes a problem in the first place.

PS. I can't mention which device or network, but a few months ago I saw an instance where a network released an update that we hadn't (as we were still testing and working with the vendor), which had multiple reports of causing boot-loop issues. Our approval and testing process ensured our customers didn't receive this update, but instead a few weeks later received a version which didn't have this issue.

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Level 18: Posting pro
Posts: 1,278
Registered: ‎27-11-2017

Re: [Q&A] Software Updates on O2

@Chris_K So if security updates are purely android based & not network related, I can slip in another network SIM card and receive the update. Then bung my O2 SIM back in with little risk?
I’m a noob
Posts: 62,400
Registered: ‎04-01-2009

Re: [Q&A] Software Updates on O2


@Curmudgeon wrote:
@Chris_KSo if security updates are purely android based & not network related, I can slip in another network SIM card and receive the update. Then bung my O2 SIM back in with little risk?

Not to sure i understand that? If it isn't network related then in theory it should not matter which SIM is inserted. Try it and see if that disproves the O2 vision of events.

Level 18: Posting pro
Posts: 1,278
Registered: ‎27-11-2017

Re: [Q&A] Software Updates on O2

When I had my G5 there was no October 17 security update from O2 but later I stuck in an EE SIM card and got the update.

I read the OP & it says its nothing to do with o2, just android
I’m a noob
Posts: 62,400
Registered: ‎04-01-2009

Re: [Q&A] Software Updates on O2

I see that but......

Let us know if you do get the update as that would disprove what O2 are saying.

Level 18: Posting pro
Posts: 1,278
Registered: ‎27-11-2017

Re: [Q&A] Software Updates on O2

That's what I did when I had my G5.. So I'm asking @Chris_K if that was a fluke, or by unlocking the phone you break the lock!
I’m a noob
Posts: 58,933
Topics: 635
Registered: ‎14-01-2013

Re: [Q&A] Software Updates on O2


@Curmudgeon wrote:
That's what I did when I had my G5.. So I'm asking @Chris_K if that was a fluke, or by unlocking the phone you break the lock!

That's an interesting concept @Curmudgeon

I hope @Chris_K pops back to give an answer...

*The Game Is On*