Apple continues to push security updates to everyone, on every carrier, for every iPhone going back to 2011.
A few weeks ago Apple released iOS 9 that, in addition to all the new features, contained numerous security improvements and updates. And they were available immediately to every iPhone 6s, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5, and iPhone 4s owner, in every region, on every carrier. Since then, Apple has pushed out iOS 9.0.1 and iOS 9.0.2 as well. Again, to every iPhone model Apple has sold since 2011. All at once. Done.
It wasn't a unique occurrence either. It's what Apple has been doing month after month, year after year, since the original iPhone launched in 2007. And it's what they're continuing to do—iOS 9.1 is already in beta and expected to be released in the next month or so. That's an enormous amount of added value enjoyed by iPhone owners and not only is it unmatched by Android or any other platform; it's unmatchable. It's also one of the very best reasons to switch to iPhone.
The update challenge
Android allows for an amazing array of different models, in different shapes and sizes, manufactured by different vendors, and mediated by different carriers. That's an incredible amount of diversity and choice, and the primary reason Android has spread so far, so fast. Diversity, however, is hard to manage. All those customized versions of Android, on all those hardware variants, on all those carriers need to be updated, sometimes on a model-by-model basis. And not every manufacturer or carrier is incentivized to do that, especially not for older versions and models.
Back in May of 2011 Google tried to improve things. As part of the Google I/O keynote they announced:
New devices will receive the latest updates for 18 months after their release — if the hardware allows.
Lead engineer for Android security at Google Adrian Ludwig has announced a big step in the right direction with the creation of the Android Security Updates Google Group.
I hope it works. I really do. Phones are our computers now but even more powerful and more accessible. They keep us connected, but they also keep our data. Everyone deserves a phone that's as safe, secure, and private as possible.
But it means Google has to develop patches, manufacturers have to apply them, and carriers have to agree to allow them for each and every model of each and every phone. And that's inherently a more complex problem to solve.
Yet the only indicator we have for future behavior is past behavior. Samsung's 2011 Galaxy S2 only officially supports Android 4.1.2 Jellybean, the 2012 Galaxy S3 only officially supports Android 4.3 or 4.4 Jellybean, depending on the variant. It's not until the 2013 Galaxy S4 that we start to see updates to the most recent version of Android, 5.1.1 Lollipop.
Even the traditional wisdom of "stick with Nexus" doesn't always help here. Google's 2011 Galaxy Nexus is stuck on Android Jellybean, never got KitKat or Lollipop, and almost certainly won't be getting Android M.
If you bought both a GNex and an iPhone 4s in 2011, Google cut you off back in 2013 while Apple will be updating you to iOS 9 this fall. So, in hindsight, "stick with Nexus" wouldn't have been very good advice.
The difference is enough that security writer Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai—who has historically been very, very hard on Apple and the iPhone—recently announced he's switching.
So when the original iPhone came out a few years ago, I swore in multiple heated discussions with friends and strangers that I'd never buy an iPhone. Since then, I've only owned Android phones. First a few HTC ones, now a Sony phone.
Well, I'm sick of it. And I'm ready to go to the dark side.
So, if it's important to you that the software running on your device be up to date, that you get all the new features and fixes as soon as they're available, and that you continue to get great new features for years to come, then it should be important to you to switch to iPhone.
Apple has made it easier than ever with the new Move to iOS app on the Google Play Store.
Note: Updated for iOS 9.