Don’t get me wrong, I love Android! Its diversity, customizability, and openness is simply unparalleled. This doesn’t come without its drawbacks, however…
Android is still fragmented, almost 10 years after its initial release
Take a look at the figures below for an idea of how fragmented it really is.
Now before you get upset with Google for not keeping all of its devices up to date, let’s talk about why it’s so disjointed.
Unlike Apple, who designs both the hardware and the software, Google only makes the software. This means that there are thousands of manufacturers across the globe manufacturing devices to run the Android OS. These manufacturers are responsible for updating their devices to the latest version of Android, not Google.
Most manufacturers install a customized version of Android onto their devices. This means that for every Android update that Google releases, each manufacturer also has to update it’s custom version of Android as well. This takes time, money and effort. A lot of smaller manufacturers would actually rather produce a new smartphone that they can sell for money, rather than spend time updating software for their current devices.
If Android was the only mobile OS, it wouldn’t be so bad. But when you also have Apple and Microsoft in the mix, it makes it look far worse. 86% of iPhones are running the latest version iOS which is excellent, but that’s because they manufacture the hardware and software which means makes it much easier to keep every device up to date. That being said, Apple still sings praises about this during a lot of their developer conferences.
How can Google prevent fragmentation?
The only way Google can even try to stop this would be to enforce stricter rules for manufacturers. Say, for example, tell all manufacturers that they must keep their devices up to date for at least two years after initial release or face consequences. This is obviously much easier said than done. If it was an easy fix, Google surely would have implemented it long ago.
Android’s best feature, it’s openness, is also it’s biggest drawback. Maybe one day Google will figure out a way to have at least 50% of Android devices be on the latest version of Android? But right now in 2017, Android is still fragmented…