Friday, 24 November, 2017

Android Fragmentation: One billion active devices now out of date

Theresa Hayes | 15 November, 2017, 02:01

But, now that the distribution numbers are out, we do know which Android versions have gained more share in the chart and which ones have dropped.

All the same, it's a welcome upgrade, and notable given most of the rest of the Android smartphone world is yet to get up to speed with Oreo. 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. In fact, it was released nearly three months ago for Google's own devices.

As Android Authority noted this week, adoption of the latest version of Android has been slowing with each new version for the past few releases. Other than Oreo and Nougat, every other version of Android suffered losses, with even Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich losing 0.1%. "In May 2017, Google announced that there are over two billion active Android devices". Android Oreo released in August this year has seen an increase from last month as well, but, it's just 0.1%.

After a length of time specified by Android's sysprop pm.dexopt.unopt_after_inactive_days field, applications that haven't been used in a while are marked as inactive by Android and downgraded.

At this point, it's hard to know what Google can do about Android fragmentation, short of convincing everyone to buy Pixel or Android One devices. Maybe Android Oreo can help us out. Indeed, the majority of devices are still on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, though Android 7.0 Nougat is just a fraction of a percentage point behind.

Year after year, owners of expensive flagship devices are forced to wait more than six months for OS updates and the problem is showing no signs of abating.