Fragmentation, fragmentation, fragmentation. For the last few years, this has been the term used liberally by tech media when discussing Android. There are so many Android handsets and tablets with their own skinned version of OS. Sure Apple iOS 6 has some imperfections, but the OS is unified across the handsets and tablets where the hardware is capable. Fortunately, multiple versions of Android are slowly becoming a thing of the past.
Image credit: Ant Pruitt
Android developers have reported that 25 percent of Android devices are now running version 4.0 or higher. This was based on data collected during a 14-day period ending on October 1st, where devices connected to the Google Play Store. Sure, 25 percent is not a big number, but it is a great leap ahead from the 10 percent penetration three months ago. This is great news even though my rooted and ROMed phone may not be included in this figure.
In 2011, Google declared that version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) would be the OS version to unify Android devices. This gave devoted Android fans hope of always being up-to-date with the OS on other phones. Sadly, not many consumers got a taste of ICS. The version was available, but not all devices received it due to carrier and sometimes OEM limitations.
This year at Google IO, Google announced and demonstrated Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). The OS is touted as being “buttery smooth” and ready to continue the path of unifying Android devices. Jelly Bean has been a hit for those who have already received the OTA. Nexus devices have the update along with a few other big name devices, Samsung Galaxy S III and Motorola Xoom.
Even so with the greater number of devices running version 4.0 or higher, some devices will again be left out. Not all devices can run the newer OS due to hardware limitations. On the other hand, devices such as the Motorola Atrix 4G which were thought to be capable of running 4.0 with its dual core CPU will not get an update to Ice Cream Sandwich.
There were many disappointed owners of the Atrix 4G, but I credit Punit Soni, VP of Product Management at Motorola Mobility (Google), for openly discussed update timing for Motorola devices. He talked about how his team is working harder to get updates to customers faster. Unfortunately, this comment below was prior to the Atrix 4G announcement regarding it not getting updated.
Image credit: Ant Pruitt
Even with a few casualties on devices running lower versions of Android, the outlook for Android handsets is promising. The hardware is getting more robust. There may be a bottleneck between OEM and carrier requirements holding up the OTA, but I like the idea of that smartphones will have 4.0 pre-installed with 4.1 in the pipeline. There will still be fragmentation as a result of the overlays applied to Android, but the backend is starting to look a lot more unified.
I’m Ant Pruitt and this is aNewDomain.net.
To see all of Ant’s stories, click here.