It’s no secret that Android users are fragmented. Not only are there thousands of different Android devices in the world, the vast majority of them never see the latest update. Released in August, Oreo (or Android 8) is the latest version of the popular operating system.
Google released the most recent data about which versions of Android are commonly used:
- 5.0 Lollipop 21 6.1%
- 5.1 20.2%
- 6.0 Marshmallow 29.7%
- 7.0 Nougat 19.3%
- 7.1 4.0%
- 8.0 Oreo 0.5%
As an illustration, Android 5.0 & 5.1 Lollipop is over 3 years old but used by 26.3% of all Android users. Surprisingly, Oreo which is only 4 months is used by just 0.5%.
In the forward-thinking, technology assimilating culture we are living in, people want the newest features for their products. So, why do most Android users never update to the latest version? Is it not available or do they choose not to update?
Perhaps, the simplest answer is availability. Namely, there are too many versions of Android available on the market. Moreover, with the headliners such as Samsung, Google and Sony branding their own versions of the system. In addition, they are using their own customised versions of day to day apps as well. Consequently, when a new version of Android is released to the public, a custom version must then be made for each company. Depending on the development process, this can be months in development if a company even decides to customise their own version.
Argument: Do consumers want the update?
You could see the argument from both sides. Android users have always maintained that they have more diversity and openness with their platform. Unlike their direct competitor iOS, users can customise their device to look and appear how they want.
Alternatively, you could argue that consumers don’t want to bother with the latest updates. Furthermore, Consumers just want a phone and they just want it to work. Nobody wants to update their phone 9 times in 3 months like the most recent version of iOS.
Counter-argument: Security and features
More importantly is security. We can agree that companies are constantly battling at the moment for who is most secure with your data. Android being part of the Google behemoth, it doesn’t come as a surprise that a lot of user data ends up with Google. Consumers are either oblivious to the location of their data or are complacent. Security should always be a concern, especially in the internet age.
Are the manufacturers trying to convince people to buy the latest device to ensure they are on the latest version? Are new features interesting to consumers? Figures would seem to suggest not.
Problem with fragmentation
Fragmentation of the Android platform creates a problem for developers. With each new operating system version comes new API’s and SDK’s. Virtual and Augmented reality being a recent addition open to Android developers.
Looking at the figures, to capitalise on sales you want to aim for the main bulk of a user base by developing for compatibility with older operating systems. Over 70% of users have a version of Android that is over 1 year old. This means that any newly available API’s for developing apps are not available for those running older systems.
Creating new ideas using technologies for the app of tomorrow with the capabilities and availabilities of yesterday. Where do you go with a platform like this? Constantly trying to push the boundaries and capabilities of mobile technology whilst thinking in the past.
Is there a solution?
Android’s platform is about simplicity with openness. This enables compatibility with various carriers and hardware. Whilst this does come with some advantages as a platform, creating a solution that allows for universally available updates is not easy. Can there even be a method to solve this?< Back to Blog