Google have released the November Android version data and there are no real surprises here; the newer versions of Android are trading market share, with Jelly Bean losing to Kit Kat. Android 4.4 Kit Kat now accounts for a little over one third of all devices using the Google Play Store and Android Jelly Bean (versions 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3) now amounts to a little under half. The balance consists of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (8%), Android 2.3 Gingerbread (9%) and Android 2.2 FroYo (0.5%). Older versions of Android that are active on Google’s servers only amount to under 1%. What’s more, there is no mention of Android 5.0 Lollipop. This is either because these devices make up less than 1% (this seems unlikely) or for whatever reason, Google decided to exclude the data. We can hope that it’s included in the next update, which by the way, will be released in 2015!
The composition of active Android devices is of particular interest to developers as it helps them tailor their applications to what devices users are running them on. But let’s be clear about this: Google are also encouraging manufacturers to update their devices to the newest version of Android! One of the requirements to be a certified device is that the manufacturer will update the device to the latest version of Android within 18 months of launch. This means that those devices launched late in the first half of 2013 should be getting Android Lollipop, but those launched late in 2012 may not do so. Another rule that Google have put into place is that once a new version of Android is released, manufacturers have a time limit before new devices must launch with the new version. If manufacturers don’t abide by these rules then they are not permitted to use the Google Play Store on their devices, amongst other penalties. It’s designed to stop a manufacturer from launching in late 2014, a device running say Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Keeping the devices up-to-date ensures that the latest security improvements are present on the device. It should also make for a better experience for the users.
What versions of Android do our readers use on their devices? Thinking of my personal collection of devices, I’ve devices running 2.2 FroYo, 2.3 Gingerbread, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 4.4 Kit Kat and 5.0 Lollipop. I’m clean out of 4.1, 4.2 or 4.3 Jelly Bean! This seems to reflect the trend: my devices running the older versions of Android have reached the end of their official upgrade path. I know that I could put my original HTC Desire up to a much newer version of Android, but it would only be for academic purposes as it isn’t going to be my main device. Let us know what you are using in the comments below.