Android and Apple fans can argue endlessly about who stole what and which phones are better, but there is at least one area where Android has consistently failed to keep up with its biggest rival: fragmentation. For years, we’ve been writing about Google’s failure to roll out the latest versions of its operating system to vendors in a timely fashion, but despite promises to the contrary, Google has failed to make any significant progress to date.
You don’t have to dig very deep to confirm this fact either, as the Android Developers Dashboard is regularly updated with a breakdown of platform version distribution. But this week, programmer Dan Luu discovered a worrisome trend after combing through some data: Uptake of new versions of Android appears to be slowing down.
Using Android market share data, Luu was able to create a graph showcasing the growing divide between Android version usage over time. As for why uptake is slowing, Luu deduces that there could be three possible explanations: Android growth is slowing, device turnover is slowing and/or fewer devices are receiving updates.
“But even with the data we have, we can take a guess at how many outdated devices are in use,” Luu writes. “In May 2017, Google announced that there are over two billion active Android devices. If we look at the latest stats (the far right edge), we can see that nearly half of these devices are two years out of date. At this point, we should expect that there are more than one billion devices that are two years out of date! Given Android’s update model, we should expect approximately 0% of those devices to ever get updated to a modern version of Android.”
One billion outdated Android devices. And considering that Google’s latest platform version breakdown shows that just 0.3% of devices have been updated to Android 8.0 Oreo, there are approximately 1.99 billion phones and tablets that have yet to receive the most recent update (which originally launched in August, by the way).
To put that into perspective, over 50% of all iOS devices have already been updated to iOS 11 less than two months after launch. While there is some hope that Google has started on the long road to recover with Android 8.0, it will be years before Google comes close to catching Apple, providing it ever does.
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