This morning, Google updated the Android version distribution information and I’m a little disappointed to write that Android 5.0 Lollipop still isn’t showing in the list. We’re not sure why Google isn’t yet disclosing the data; either it doesn’t want to distort the other data (for an unknown and presumably bizarre reason) or because it hasn’t been detailed, which seems unlikely. Still, let’s look at what Google have told us, which I should caveat with a big “as expected” sticker. And that means we’ve seen the move towards the later versions continue with Android 4.4 Kit Kat up from 34% to 39%. We’ve also seen the number of devices running older versions dropping: Android Jelly Bean, which is versions 4.1 to 4.3, is down from 49% to 46%. Ice Cream Sandwich is sitting at just under 7% and Android Gingerbread is just under 8%.
The slow progress towards the latest version is a good thing. Putting aside the fact that running the latest version of Android contributes towards your overall coolness, it brings important improvements to device security and stability and enables the latest applications to run. This written, Google’s infrastructure (including the Google Play Services) ensures that older devices and operating systems may still benefit from core feature improvements such as GCM, Google Cloud Messaging, which is available for all devices running Android 2.2 FroYo and later. Google’s policy for devices to be certified for the Google Services insists that not only are devices launched running a current (inside nine months, current) version of Android, but that they’re also updated to the latest version for the first eighteen months of launch. This means that a device launched today, in order to qualify under Google’s rules, must be running either Android Kit Kat or Android Lollipop. And in about six months, devices must not be newly launched running Android Kit Kat. This does mean that a device may be launched on your particular carrier or even in your region running an older version of Android than you might expect, but we’ve already seen intense competition between the manufacturers to push the Android Lollipop to devices before the others and this month, Samsung appear to be pressurizing carriers to get Lollipop out for the Galaxy S5, amongst other flagship devices.
What version of Android does your device, or devices, run? Would you still consider buying a device even if it ran an older version of Android? Do you tend to replace your device once it’s no longer supported by the manufacturer? Let us know in the comments below.