Couchsurfing, or: of Lollipop, Marshmallow, and Nougat

Yesterday I was sitting on one of our sofas and asked Zuleikha if I could use her Nexus 10 tablet to look up something in the internet. And if you use such a device and make an own account for yourself, you have to identify yourself with Google (or in the case of something “i”, with Apple). Which is what I did, and after returning to my own machine later, I saw that I received an email from Google with a link to this (removed the IP address in this crop of a screenshot):


After I acknowledged that yes, that was me, I saw a short list of recently used devices, like this:


Cool stuff – they keep book about your account with them, and check if it’s really you or someone who saw you typing in a password and who was now trying to impersonate you.

About the device itself: it’s the oldest of all Android devices we have, at least software-wise, and it still runs Android 5.1 “Lollipop”:


You can read about this on the Android developers’ pages if you are interested.

The other devices we have – Mitchie’s Nexus 7 tablet and Nexus 5 phone – all run Android 6.0.1 “Marshmallow”. None of the devices will get “Nougat”, the newest version. And Zuleikha’s Nexus 10 won’t even update to Marshmallow.

What does that mean? Well for a tablet which you use at home (on your couch), not that much. You’re within your own wireless network, and the browser and other applications have all the latest security updates – you shouldn’t visit questionable sites and/or services anyway. Plus the Marshmallow version of Android will still receive security updates for at least another year, and for Lollipop you can download fixes if you want to – more on that later.

The problem is with phones – which is what more than 50% of all internet browsing devices are running on until now. For these, you’d better have the latest and greatest, which means: the latest OS and all patches (which come automatically when using Google’s own Nexus/Pixel or Apples “i” devices).

So I was thinking about a replacement for Mitchie’s phone which won’t get the upgrade to “Nougat”. The new Google phones named “Pixel” are nice, just like “i” phones, but they also cost that much. So the probably best replacement at this moment and in the same size and price range would be the Nexus 5X. Read more here in that 3-page review if you don’t know or think you’d need a Google device anyway – you probably do if you care for security. The reasoning starts towards the end of page 2, read on…

Oh, and if you wondered why you saw me connecting from the UK in one of those screenshots: that’s from work, where we’re routed out and connected to the interweb via some router which happens to be located there (so Google and its own Youtube and other sites detect me/us as UK residents, which I can live with). And the reason for connecting to Google from there was that I downloaded and installed their SDK. That also gives you emulators for their Nexus phones and tablets, so you can try out your own apps (if you write some) before rolling them out to the public. As just a phone or tablet emulator it’s probably a bit of overkill, tho these emulated devices sure look good:


Which brings me back to the Nexus 5X. In my standard price comparison site, it’s the top 1 searched for article when looking for a phone:


And that could have a reason. The Samsung devices tend to explode and burn (and made it to the no-fly list in the US because of that already), anything else isn’t that up-to-date and/or affordable.

So if you can afford it, the new “Pixel” is a sure recommendation – you can bet that all the Android devs will get them as soon as they’re out. For us mere mortals tho, these slightly older but still very nice ones would be the interim solution of choice – after all, in 2 years from now, even your latest & greatest “Pixel” (or “i”) phone will look a bit older – and will be a lot cheaper than right now.

Me? I still don’t own a mobile phone, and I’m not sure why I would need one. Sure, couch surfing is nice, but for that – or as a nice remote control for my OM-D E-M10 camera – any Android tablet would do. Even an older one.

Thanks for reading.

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