Hilariously Late, A 16-Month Old Version Of Android Is Now Popular

Hilariously Late, a 16-Month Old Version of Android Is Now Popular

Updates to Google's Android mobile OS take famously long to roll out to actual consumers, but here's one stat that really puts things in perspective: 16 months after Google first released Lollipop 5.0, it's finally the most popular (not by a majority!) version of Android. In the latest set of monthly stats, Lollipop takes 36.1 per cent of installed versions of Android, narrowly overtaking KitKat (down to 34.4 per cent). Marshmallow, the latest release, is still languishing on 2.3 per cent.

Why should you give a crap about the popularity of software release? Well, because it's a telling indicator of a big problem for Android that refuses to go away. Having Android users fragmented across ten different versions of Android makes it hard for developers to write apps and services. That means Android apps are often given less work, if written at all.

There's also a problem for Google to keep users of top-end smartphones on its platform. The biggest improvements to smartphones in the past years have been software-based -- things like always-on voice control, better camera software or a slicker UI. Even if Google can keep up or exceed Apple's rate of innovation with iOS, it doesn't matter one bit if only a tiny percentage of consumers see the end result.

[Google via VentureBeat]



    Well, there's your problem.

      iFail to see what point you're trying to make here.

        iDon't like Samsung because their OS update cycle is pitiful, if it exists at all. I suspect that is one reason why Lollipop is "popular", though I suspect that there are many Samsung owners who want more recent versions of Android that they will never receive. You'll note that Lollipop has only just overtaken Kiy Kat.

    Android N (V7.0) Developers Preview is already out as of a few days ago,

    Really wish drivers were separated from the OS just like Windows, then you could theoretically just install a base android version, then get drivers from the Phones,hardware manufacturers websites to install, mind you they would still need to develop and update the drivers but it might be an idea

      Yeah definitely, I'd even go as far as saying all android phones should have an option that wipes any 3rd party bloatware (e.g. Samsung's touchwiz) and makes them stock android, and updateable as soon as a newer version is released.

    The problem of fragmentation is caused by manufacturers and telcos. However, Google is trying to move more of the core apps etc out of the OS so that they can be updated independent of which version the user has installed. Also, just because you don't have the latest OS doesn't mean you can't use a particular app - so long as the developer targets the correct API, it'll work on all OS versions from that API up. I think this can even be targeted at a function-level - ie, individual features in an app can be API specific.

    Let's also not forget that Apple has fragmentation too - they just don't talk about it like that. What's the latest iOS that iPhone 4 runs? Oh that's right, 7.1. Current iOS is 8.3.

    Even if Google can keep up or exceed Apple’s rate of innovation with iOS Careful, you're bias is showing. Many would argue Google already exceeds Apple in the innovation stakes - but, it's a moot argument anyway.

    Lastly, to say only a "tiny fraction" of users are on the latest version is not very accurate when 36% are using it.

      How do you get 36% on the latest version? Isn't the latest version Marshmallow? I love my Nexus 6P and put N beta on it today but the fragmentation of Android is terrible. I'd love to see why Google hasn't followed MS and separated the drivers from the OS so everyone with capable hardware can get the updates all together.

      Look, im by no means an apple fan.. but saying iOS is fragmented because they feel the hardware can no longer keep up with their software is hardly fragmentation as seen on android. Android has the unique situation of having so many custom ui's its easier and more cost effective to release a newly tested phone than a software update.

      As for innovation... really is either innovating on the phone front? Been nothing exciting in ages from either camp that warrants that title. Google tends to make more vaporware than apple but apple loves their walled garden and proprietary crap.

      And only 2% he said were on the latest release. He said 36% were on some previous version of lollipop, which has been out over a year now hasnt it?

      Just some perspective on the situation.. im posting on my own android phone so im not trying to show bias anywhere.

    That's quite fast compared to how long it takes a more recent version of Windows to overtake the dominant version. e.g. Windows XP still had a 60% share one year after Windows 7 was released. It is simply a sign of a mature OS.

      XP never has, or will be, mature. For everyone harping on how good it was, hands doen its the OS ive had to reinstall the most due to issues.

      The OS still has such a high percentage due to government and other buisnesses not willing to change OS due to compatability issues or perceived stability issues.

    "Even if Google can keep up or exceed Apple’s rate of innovation with iOS". Did I not get the memo about the definition of "innovation" changing? Because I see very little innovation as I understand it in iOS these days and a lot more catching up with the competition.

    Lastly, to say only a "tiny fraction" of users are on the latest version is not very accurate when 36% are using it.

    The latest version, Marshmallow is currently on only 2% of Android devices so the statement is correct.

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