Every two weeks, Google likes to update their Android Developer website with statistics about which Android devices are accessing the Google Play Store. Today they’ve updated that page. Here are the numbers you need to know: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the latest version of the operating system, is on 2.7% of all Android devices currently in use. Looking at Android 4.0 and Android 4.1 combined, those versions are on 28.5% of all devices. When you consider that Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) is going to turn one year old later this month, it’s a bit disheartening to see penetration levels so low.
As for the other versions, just 1.8% of people are using Android 3.0 Honeycomb, which is actually pretty great, because we all know that version of the OS was nothing more than a rush job Google pushed out to compete with Apple’s iPad. Android 2.3 Gingerbread is still on over half of Android devices in the wild, 54.2% to be exact. Do you guys remember when Gingerbread was announced? Let us refresh your memory: December 6, 2010.
This fact bears repeating: Over half of the Android devices in use today use a two year old version of the operating system. Kind of pathetic, isn’t it?
How can you make sure you always have the latest version of Android on your smartphone? There are three ways. One, buy a new phone every six months. If you have the money, then why not? Two, only use Nexus devices. They’re the first to get updates, and the hardware gets refreshed every 12 months, making it a more economical option. And finally three, stay on top of the Android ROM scene. Chances are that there’s a forum thread somewhere on the internet with a whole bunch of people dedicated to making sure the latest version of Android is on your device. You’ll void your warranty by flashing, but hey, there are worse things in life.
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A lot of people buy phones on a two-year contract. As gingerbread is almost two years old, I would expect to see a faster adoption of ICS as they upgrade from their old contracts from December onwards.
Agreed. Can’t wait to see what the data shows in mid-January once everyone sets up their Christmas presents!
I have two lines open so I can get a new one each year for a lesser price and the best deal is, it only costs (on Verizon at least) $10 more each month
Good point, but it still doesn’t excuse hardware manufacturers from updating their devices, and consumers for being ignorant enough to accept old software.
Smartphones are still seen like magical packets of mystery. Once people realize that not all of the 500 Android devices released every year are created equal, and that software is a large part of it, people will begin to care more about updates.
There is no win for either the manufactuers or the carriers to really care about updating the software – that would mean you would keep your “old” device longer; not see the sense (not that there is much) in signing your life away for another two years and allowing yourself to get roped into another contract; not to mention mean you wouldn’t buy a new phone and be buying into the tried and true concept of “planned obsolescene” based on thrill appeal, and where’s the fun in that – for the manufacturers or the carriers! lol
I buy a new phone every year, and am currently the owner of the droid razr maxx hd and it still has 4.0 for another few weeks
There are several things to look at, first carriers don’t want to spend the cost of validating the OS updates and Google hasn’t forced them to (unlike Apple’s control over iOS devices on Carriers networks), OEM’s have so many different phones out the door, in the pipeline and about to be launched and they differ so much that perhaps its a question of what phones get updates and when.
Google should be doing a better job with their Nexus reference line and setting minimum standards so the OEM’s have no excuses for not updating when they claim a phone has insufficient processor, memory, storage for the OS, etc, etc. The latest phones from Samsung with 1GB and 2GB of RAM should do the trick quite well but again without Google setting the expectations and the OEM’s and Carriers NOT wanting to spend the money and resources to validate software we get screwed over. Plus there is no incentive for either of them, you have a device, they have your money, they also have you on a 2 year contract that costs $350 to break so again you are screwed.
The Android Alliance was supposed to fix that but alas that was all smoke and mirrors with no backbone out of Mountain View.
To a point I would be happy if I knew my phone would get at least 1 major OS revision update and I don’t mean the lame .X revision, I mean from ICS to Key Lime Pie since we all know Jelly Bean was really a incremental upgrade to ICS to begin with.
Now we all know none of that is going to happen and the only alternative is what, give up our smartphones, live in a cave, or worse get a flip phone. They have us, and we can only complain until the chorus deafens them.
This is the crux of the issue on fragmentation.
The stock Android front-end is not good enough hence why phone manufacturers use a different skin.
Therefore, Google needs to do at least one of two things – if not both:
1. Make the stock Android interface better.
2. Make it really easy for phone manufacturers to apply their own skin,
BUT in a way that doesn’t affect updating to new Android versions so
difficult. At the very least allow users to update when they wish even
if it means doing so means they ‘lose’ the custom skin offered by the
phone manufacturer until that is updated. Google keep saying the ‘User’
is most important to them, so why not adopt that principle with Android
Option 2 may be more difficult to achieve, but I’m sure they could.