How to update Android software: A quick guide

Peeking KitKat

There’s been a lot of talk lately about software updates, but what does it really mean to you? Is it something you need to do, and if so, what happens if you don’t update when everyone else does?

If you’re struggling to differentiate your Froyo from your KitKat then fear not, as we’re here with another ‘How To’ guide to untangle the jargon and put you back on the straight and narrow.


What is a software update?

The software on your device controls everything you see and operate. From how your apps look to how they function, this is all considered software. If you go to your phone’s ‘Settings’, and then select ‘About’, you should find all the information about your current software and if you’re required to update.

Every now and then the manufacturer will develop a better, faster or  more attractive version of software and will roll it out to the customer at no extra cost. You can then download it either by plugging your handset into a laptop, or via Wi-Fi.

TIP: Once you update, you generally can’t resort back to the previous version.

Do I need to update?

If you’re happy with how your handset looks and functions, you don’t necessarily need to update. The developer will invite you to update the software, but this is in your best interests because updates generally allow your device to run faster and do more stuff.

Before you update anything on your device(s) you can read what will change before accepting the modernisation. Just view the ‘What’s new’ section and you’ll be able to see what’s coming, and whether or not to continue.

TIP: Updating isn’t upgrading. Updating generally refers to something that you bring up to date, for example a wardrobe, hairstyle, or handset software. Upgrading, of which we happen to be fairly practised in, refers to something physical like your actual handset.


When will I know it’s time to update?

You’ll know it’s time for a big update when the techie world starts to get a bit antsy and wild-eyed. If however, you’re not a tech geek and just want your phone to let you know, you will generally receive an alert that a software update is available and how to do it. If you’re not alerted, check ‘Settings’ and ‘About’ for further information.

TIP: At times, updating your software as soon as the download is available isn’t the best for your handset. Although the world may be getting a little overexcited about the whole affair, more often than not there are still a few creases to iron out and bug fixes will be available on the next update in a few weeks.

How many versions of Android are there?

Google owns Android which runs on a large portion of the most popular devices around the world today. It has to date released eight versions of its operating system and each one is named after a dessert.

In descending order:

  • Android 1.5 – Cupcake
  • Android 1.6 – Doughnut
  • Android 2.0 – Eclaire
  • Android 2.2 – Froyo (this is ‘frozen yoghurt’ for the British)
  • Android 2.3 – Gingerbread
  • Android 3.0 – Honeycomb
  • Android 4.0 – Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Android 4.1 – Jelly Bean
  • Android 4.4 – KitKat

Stay tuned to the Phones 4u blog for all the latest news on Android versions.