Android 5.0, aka Lollipop, has been the talk of the town for months now. In fact, pretty much the last year. As long before Lollipop landed, the talk of Android L had been long in the making. As such, this was (and has been reported as) the most significant update to Android so far. However, two interesting news reports came through this week which may put a damper on the Lollipop proceedings.
The first piece of news which came through was the latest android distribution figures. Now, although, we see these figures landing each month, last month’s showed Lollipop at a meagre 5.0% adoption rate. This made sense as the rollout of the update to Lollipop has been a slow one. If you have still not received your update, then you will know exactly how slow it has been. In contrast, the figures which came through a couple of days ago showed Lollipop has literally jumped to 10%. That is a fairly big swing in one month and does show that the last month has seen a massive change in either the number of devices being purchased with Lollipop pre-installed or the number of updates which have rolled out in the last few weeks (most likely a mixture of the two). As such, it would be expected that next month the same sort of big jump is likely to occur. 20% maybe?
Well, before we jump too far ahead, the other interesting piece of news that landed this week was the mentioning of “Android M“. Which is apparently Android 6.0. Although, that has yet to be confirmed. The M news came suggesting that Google will indeed unveil the next version of Android later this month at I/O. If that is the case, then there will likely soon be a developer version rolling out, along with maybe a fall launch of M. And if that is also the case, then where does that leave Lollipop?
It’s already become clear (directly from the OEMs mouths) that a number of devices will never reach Lollipop and instead will remain on KitKat (which, by the way, was still showing almost 40% of the distribution this month). With KitKat devices remaining where they are, the phasing out of KitKat will be a slow one. Not to mention, if everything is to be believed by the end of the year Android M will start showing its mark on the distribution charts. It also has to be factored into the equation that as soon as Google do announce Android M, all the OEMs will immediately start looking towards M. As will the android consumers. Suddenly, Lollipop will not be the dessert flavour of the month and both the consumers and manufacturers will now be focused on when they (or their devices more specifically) will get Android M.
On a wider point, this also raises a more fundamental question of what is happening with Android updates. If they are moving to a more annually-based upgrade system, then how will that factor into the android world in a logical or meaningful manner? Although, Apple might be universally hated by the android community, the one thing that they have done well is their iOS updating. It rolls out, you update. With the open source nature and forking of android, the android community does not have the same sort of continuity to their updates. By the time Google releases an update, and by the time your manufacturers forks it, and by the time your carrier customizes it, the update is already becoming dated, with the next version already in view. As we are seeing right now with Android M. If the system continues in this manner, then the chances are that sooner rather than later, android users will become quickly tired of the system. If anything, Lollipop has certainly proved that the current status of Android updating is a problem that Google needs to address. And soon.