Saturday, July 13, 2013

Android Fragmentation "Overblown", But Where Is Key Lime Pie?

Google recently released the numbers showing the percentage of Android versions, and over the course of the past month Jelly Bean usage has gone from 33% up to 37.9%, and now Jelly Bean usage is sitting above Gingerbread. For the first time in many years the latest version of Android is also the most popular.

According to Android co-founder Rich Miner, however, the fragmentation issue is “overblown” and most users are happy with their devices.
“I think this is a bit of an overblown issue, frankly,” Miner said this week at the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council’s technology forum. “Don't forget, there are 1.5 million Android phones being activated every single day. There are 900 million devices out in the market.”
However, the fact of the matter is that more than 60% of Android devices currently in use are running Ice Cream Sandwich or earlier versions of Android, so fragmentation is still something of an issue for users and developers alike.

Android 4.2, the latest version, was released in November 2012, and yet has only 5.6% adoption. In addition, Android 4.1, the first version of Jelly Bean, was released on July 9, 2012,over a year ago. Google have really tried to extend the life of Jelly Bean, and now, as it nears the end of its life, to make a big deal of the fact that it has eventually overtaken Gingerbread (Version 2.3), seems like a very minor victory in the fight to end fragmentation!

Many people expected Google to announce Android 5.0 (Key Lime Pie) at the Google I/O Developers' Conference, as they did with Jelly Bean a year earlier, but it wasn't mentioned. The latest rumours are that the Nexus 5 (possibly another LG phone), and due in October, will be running Key Lime Pie. Or perhaps Google's own Motorola X Phone will be the first, with that release date rumoured to be as soon as August 1.

Either way, Google's efforts to reduce fragmentation will really be judged by how quickly the manufacturers can roll out the Key Lime Pie update to the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, etc. Considering that Galaxy S3 owners are still waiting for the update to the latest version (4.2.2) of Android, I wouldn't hold my breath!

In comparison, Apple's iOS 6 adoption hit 61% after only a month, and as of June 2013 sat at 93%. iOS 7 is scheduled for release "in the fall", and I expect the adoption rate to be similar.

Modern smartphones are incredible devices, but after admiring the clean lines and beautiful construction, we focus on the display. Bring that to life and all else is forgotten. The phone becomes the display. And the display is the OS. For me, getting a new version of the OS on a smartphone is just as exciting as getting a new phone. I can't wait for iOS 7, and what I love about Apple is that I'll be able to upgrade the same time as the rest of the world.

Thanks for reading!

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