October 2021 security update rolls out for Pixel phones, but it doesn’t bring Android 12
Today is the day that Google is releasing Android 12 to the public. No, not the update to Pixel phones — instead they’re only releasing the source code today. Since today is also the first Monday of the month, though, it’s still the day that Google is publishing the Android Security Bulletin. Right on time, Google has published the October 2021 Android Security Bulletin, detailing all the vulnerabilities they and their partners have identified and made patches for. In addition, the company has started rolling out an update to Pixel phones containing these patches, but that update doesn’t bring with it a bump to the underlying OS.
October 2021 Security Update Bulletin
The October 2021 Android Security Bulletin can be viewed here, and it outlines a total of 10 vulnerabilities in the Android Framework and system components and a total of 41 vulnerabilities in the kernel and vendor components. The CVE numbers, type of vulnerability, threat severity, and affected OS version/component are listed in the tables published by Google. The 10 vulnerabilities in the Android Framework and system components have been addressed with the security update to the 2021-10-01 patch level, while the 41 vulnerabilities in the kernel and closed-source vendor components have been addressed with the 2021-10-05 patch level. For more information on how the monthly Android security update process works, we recommend reading our explainer available here.
Pixel Update Bulletin/Functional Update
The October 2021 security update with patch level 2021-10-05 is rolling out for the Pixel 3 series, Pixel 3a series, Pixel 4 series, Pixel 4a series, Pixel 5, and Pixel 5a as part of the broader Android 12 update. The Pixel-specific update addresses a few additional vulnerabilities in the kernel, Pixel software, and both open and closed-source Qualcomm components, the details of which can be viewed here.
Here are the build numbers for the latest Pixel security update:
- Pixel 3 (XL): RQ3A.211001.001
- Pixel 3a (XL): RQ3A.211001.001
- Pixel 4 (XL): RQ3A.211001.001
- Pixel 4a: RQ3A.211001.001
- Pixel 4a (5G): RQ3A.211001.001
- Pixel 5: RQ3A.211001.001
- Pixel 5a: RD2A.211001.002
- Pixel 5a: RD2A.211001.001
Since today’s update for Pixel phones doesn’t include Android 12, we’re still waiting on the promised Pixel Feature Drop. The Android 12 update, once it rolls out, will be that Feature Drop, as it brings a substantial number of new features, many of which are exclusive to Google’s phones. For example, the Quick Tap gesture, which lets you double tap on the back of the phone to perform certain actions, is only available on Pixel. The new wallpaper-based theming system, code-named “monet”, is also exclusive to Pixel phones on Android 12, but it will be available to other phones in a future release.
The security patches outlined in the October 2021 security bulletin will be made available to other devices soon. Google’s major OEM partners have pre-release access to the security bulletin, so they’re likely already working on merging the latest patches with their own builds. Samsung, as usual, has already begun rolling out updates containing the latest security patches. On most other phones, the October patches will land as part of a minor update to their existing Android 10 or Android 11-based builds.