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SquallStrife

You see, the problem with Android is...

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These images just got posted over on SA:

 

Posted Image

Posted Image

 

A decent majority of Android devices are still on Gingerbread and Froyo. Versions of the OS from 2010.

 

Is this a symptom of fragmentation, or perhaps the cause?

Edited by SquallStrife

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You can't take this data at face value, and then stick a big "PROBLEM" stamp on it, because it distorts the reality of the situation. A few points:

 

1. This data includes any device which has active access to the Play Store

That includes those $50 dumb-phone alternative phones at Coles, Chinese knockoffs, eReaders, hobbiest dev platforms, set-top boxes, and budget devices in general. Many of these devices were produced with no intention of being updated, simply because their target market is people who want something cheap to replace their broken dumb-phone, or they have a fixed purpose. I don't have stats on what percentage of devices are of this calibre, but I imagine it's a significant percentage.

 

2. Android was designed to rely on apps for feature expansion

When a new social network comes about, Android doesn't need an upgrade for it to be integrated. Same goes for storage services, mail clients, video players - anything. It's all because of the ingenious Intent system. Any app can defer any task to any app for free (where free = no work on the programmers part). In contrast, competing OSes require the entire OS to be updated, or app developers to hard code references to other apps. This is why their updates are absolutely crucial.

 

3. Google back ports most new OS features to older versions via a single support library

If you're a developer, you can easily write software targeted to the latest version of the OS, and still have those features work on versions as far back as 2.1. Simply reference the support library. Not all features are ported back, but the important ones certainly. Usually the features that aren't ported back rely on hardware that older devices don't have anyway, such as NFC or front facing cameras.

 

4. If you want the latest version of vanilla Android, buy a Nexus device!

Google didn't start the Nexus brand for nothing. They wanted to offer a pure Android experience which is guaranteed the latest OS. As far as I'm concerned, anything that isn't a Nexus device is merely an Android-compatible device. They run their own forks, and run on their own update timelines. It's the consumers choice. Some people prefer Samsung's or HTC's fork (I know right?), so good for them.

 

5. Google doesn't strategically pull features from older devices

If you get the latest version of Android, you get all of the latest version. iOS is another story. Some get Siri, some get FaceTime, some get turn by turn directions, some get Passbook, and some get who knows what. Is that fragmentation?

 

6. If all else fails, you have the option to install a custom ROM

XDA Developers has a collection of ROMs to choose from, if you're willing to try them. Unless you have an obscure device, chances are there's an Android 4.1 port on there you can use.

 

 

And that's why that graph doesn't mean as much as people think it does. Personally, I'd love to see it after filtering out those aforementioned low cost devices. For the record, this is the user version breakdown of my app (which supports Android 2.1 and higher):

 

Posted Image

 

Tells a much different story.

Edited by .:Cyb3rGlitch:.

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What is your app though? What would the stats look like for, say, Angry Birds? If your app mainly appeals to OCD tweakers, I would be surprised if most of your users weren't on the bleeding edge in terms of OS.

 

I was asking people if they think this version silliness is a hindrance for Android as a whole.

 

1 is a great point, and one I think isn't stressed enough in the popular press/blog/etc sphere when blurting sound-bites like "Android sales surpass iOS".

 

I don't know why 5 is relevant. Bit of Slashdotism there? Never pass up the opportunity for an [Apple/Microsoft] snipe?

 

But yes, all those things you said are good points for discussion.

 

It seems like you think I think Android is bad. I have a Galaxy Nexus, and it's brilliant.

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Does it tell the story that users of your app are generally tech savvy. I reckon that the distribution on a game like angry birds would be more telling. I'm not disagreeing with the rest of your points now. I see plenty of iphones that people have never updated from iOS 4. I don't see how this i a problem for Android, or if it is a problem that it is really more prevalent amongst android phones.

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I was asking people if they think this version silliness is a hindrance for Android as a whole.

I don't see any silliness so i don't know where you think there might be a hindrance.

 

Maybe I'm wrong but I don't really see the different versions of android to be new operating systems per say.

It would probably be a better comparison to look at them like service packs.

 

windows xp with sp3 was faster and had more features than vanilla xp, but there were alot of computers online that didn't update.

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What is your app though? What would the stats look like for, say, Angry Birds? If your app mainly appeals to OCD tweakers, I would be surprised if most of your users weren't on the bleeding edge in terms of OS.

App is called Lux. The point of posting my data was simply to demonstrate that statistics without context mean very little.

 

I was asking people if they think this version silliness is a hindrance for Android as a whole.

 

1 is a great point, and one I think isn't stressed enough in the popular press/blog/etc sphere when blurting sound-bites like "Android sales surpass iOS".

Depends on what sales they're referring to. Usually they focus on one country, and only smartphones or tablets. Either way, focusing on sales figures is useless unless you need ammo for a fanboy fight.

 

I don't know why 5 is relevant. Bit of Slashdotism there? Never pass up the opportunity for an [Apple/Microsoft] snipe?

It's relevant because it helps put the definition of 'fragmentation' in perspective, which is a term that inevitably gets used in discussions of this nature.

 

But yes, all those things you said are good points for discussion.

 

It seems like you think I think Android is bad. I have a Galaxy Nexus, and it's brilliant.

I don't think you think Android is bad, it's just that I hate when this pie chart gets thrown around with little attempt at analysis.

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There's a lot of people out there with prepaid droids, most of which are Android 2.3, with the exception of the new htc Desire C and the Sony Xperia U. Many popular outright handsets are still 2.3, with Ice Cream Sandwich being rolled out for the Sony phones in the last few months.

 

But there are perfectly good reasons for not updating. If the person isn't up to date with technology they probably won't bother updating, even if a newer operating system version is available, as their current configuration is doing just fine. My mum's htc Mozart was still running the stock operating system, and it's only because the phone had some sort of software error that it was updated, as like iPhones you can only reinstall the latest version. If that hadn't happened she'd still be using Windows Phone 7, and be perfectly happy with it.

Edited by Mademan

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