While there’s a lot to love about Android, timely updates to new versions of the OS isn’t one of those things — at least for most users.
To be clear this isn’t really Google or even Android’s fault, but it’s just part of how an open OS works. Manufacturers and carriers are responsible for rolling out updates, and often enough the process is slow going or non-existent for all but the most popular high-end and mid-range Android devices.
While we still see many active pre-Jelly Bean devices out there, the good news is that number is starting to shrink.
In the wake of Android 4.4 KitKat’s official unveiling, Google has now updated the developer dashboard with the latest Android distribution numbers. Keep in mind that these numbers only apply to official Android devices (those with Google apps).
So what’s the verdict? While we still see many active pre-Jelly Bean devices out there, the good news is that number is starting to shrink. Jelly Bean now accounts for more than half of all Android devices, with 52.1% of all active Android devices running either Android 4.1, 4.2 or 4.3.
Not surprisingly, Gingerbread still hangs in as the second most actively used version of Android, representing 26.3% of Android devices. In third we have Ice Cream Sandwich hanging on with 19.8%, Froyo with 1.7% and Honeycomb barely hanging on with just .1%.
Do these numbers really matter?
We hear it all the time: Android fragmentation is everywhere! It’s true that Android will now have six versions (including KitKat) with active users, but is this really a bad thing? Yes and no.
Some folks really don’t care what version of Android is running on their device, as long as it can handle a few basic apps, check email, browse the web and check their favorite social networks. Remember that even Gingerbread is still compatible with a great deal of the Android apps you find on the Play Store. On top of this, with several ‘core’ Google apps making their way to the Play store as of late, the issue is probably even less significant than it was in the past.
It’s true that Android will now have six versions with active users, but is this really a bad thing? Yes and no.
What’s really the problem is the timely updating of devices that are aimed at more hardcore Android users. This means mid and high-range devices from brands like HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Sony and LG.
Many Android users don’t care if their low-end handset is running Android 4.1 or older, but those that paid top-dollar for a premium Android experience are going to obviously feel differently about the situation.
Will the update cycle get any better with Android KitKat? While history tells us no, the good news is that brands like HTC have really been stepping up their game recently. Even better, many manufacturers are already chiming in with some details about their KitKat plans. This includes HTC, Motorola, Sony and even Samsung.
What version of Android are you currently rocking? Does Android ‘fragmentation’ bother you or are you mostly happy with the version of Android you are currently running?