Why (and How) You Should Update Your Samsung Galaxy S6


John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

While many Samsung fans are busy reading up on rumors about the products that the company plans to unveil this year, current owners of the existing Samsung Galaxy S6 are finally seeing last year’s flagship phone back in the news. That’s because Samsung is finally pushing the latest version of Android to the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, with an update for other smartphones and tablets expected to follow “soon.”

As James Vincent reports for The Verge, Android Marshmallow is available to download on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge beginning February 15. Android 6.0 Marshmallow was announced last May, and offers an assortment of new features, including Now on Tap, which puts the power of Google Now everywhere in the operating system, enabling users to search for contextual information on just about anything. Also of importance are Marshmallow’s new battery-saving features, its redesigned app drawer and app suggestions, plus its revamped app permissions, which make it a little easier for users to figure out when and how apps are accessing their data and more effectively take charge of their privacy.

Vincent notes that the biggest frustration with the latest version of Android has been getting the update in the first place. What he characterizes as Samsung’s “nonexistent upgrade schedule” for devices other than the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge will leave tons of Samsung customers still waiting for the update even as it rolls out to S6 owners. Updates from other Android manufacturers have just begun to appear, with the LG G4 getting Marshmallow on most carriers’ networks and Motorola’s Moto G beginning to receive the update, too.

It’s likely that the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 edge+ are scheduled for upcoming Marshmallow releases. However, Samsung is being vague about exactly when owners of its other devices can expect to see the update, explaining that it will make “separate announcements on details of OS updates schedule for each market according to market situation and carriers’ requirements.” In Vincent’s estimation, if you’re a big Android fan who really wants the latest version of the operating system, your best bet is most likely to “wait and buy a new device with it preloaded.” (Of course, Android Marshmallow was released more than three months ago to Nexus devices, which are still your best choice if you don’t want to wait for hardware manufacturers to adopt the latest updates.)

Chris Smith reports for BGR that the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge are the best Android phones that Samsung has made so far, notwithstanding popular criticism over the absence of a microSD card slot or a removable battery. But the update fixes the phones’ biggest flaw: that they weren’t running the latest version of Android. After various beta tests and Android 6.0 leaks, Samsung finally released the update.

The Android 6.0 update will bring all of the features expected with the upgrade, and Galaxy S6 Edge users will even gain enhanced functionality for the “edge” portion of the device’s screen. The phone will now have a bigger, or “Enhanced,” edge screen that enables users to add more apps and view more in-app content. They’ll be able to customize up to nine panels, including the People edge and Apps edge panels, which are now 550px wide, with more room for information and shortcuts. It’s likely that some of these new edge features will also appear in the upcoming Galaxy S7 Edge models, which are likely to run Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box. Samsung revealed recently that the Galaxy S7 will support the same kind of extended edge features as its predecessor.

Ron Amadeo reports for Ars Technica that while Samsung doesn’t explicitly say so, the February 15 rollout is likely only for unlocked, “international” devices, and Samsung’s announcement states cryptically that the company will “make separate announcements on details of OS updates schedule for each market according to market situation and carriers’ requirements.” Last year, Samsung began rolling out Lollipop to the Galaxy S5 just 31 days after launch; for Marshmallow, that delay increased to 133 days.

Of course, those figures pertain only to unlocked devices, and customers who buy their devices through carriers are subject to even longer delays as each carrier “stick[s] its fingers in the update pie.” Last year, Verizon was the fastest carrier to deploy the Galaxy S5 Lollipop update, and added 60 days to Samsung’s release schedule. If carriers follow the same timeline this year, carrier customers could be looking at a six-month delay for their first major update.

If you purchased your device through a carrier, then you’ve still got some waiting to do before you can update your Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge. But if you purchased an unlocked device, here’s what you need to do to get the update. Tap the Settings icon, tap About Device, and then tap Software Update. From there, you can tap Update Now to see if a new version of the software is available, and follow the on-screen instructions to upgrade. Make sure that you’re connected to Wi-Fi when you download the update, and ensure that your phone is adequately charged before you start the process.

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