Most Android Usage Involves Last Three Versions of Android: Report

Android may not be as fragmented as some say it is, according to new analysis by mobile app intelligence vendor Apteligent.

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Some 93 percent of Android devices today are using one of the latest three versions of the mobile operating system, giving weight to the idea that Android may not be as fragmented as some critics believe.

That's the conclusion of new data from mobile app intelligence vendor Apteligent, which analyzes actual mobile user data to help app developers "see" how their software is working in the real world on the devices of end users. The information is contained in Apteligent's latest "Monthly Data Report: Google I/O May 2016."

According to the data, which was collected from May 22 to May 28, about 48.2 percent of Android users are running Android Lollipop 5.0 on their devices, while 24.9 percent are running Android KitKat 4.4. Another 19.4 percent are running the latest version of Android, Marshmallow 6.0.

In comparison, 97 percent of Apple iOS devices today are running either iOS 8 or iOS 9, the two latest versions of that OS, according to Apteligent's data.

Andrew Levy, the chief security officer and co-founder of Apteligent, told eWEEK that the report shows that criticisms about Android fragmentation may be unfounded.

"Android obviously has gotten a lot of heat around this," he said. "We were surprised. The gap has really closed significantly over the years" between Android and iOS and their usage in the real world. "It's a big step toward putting them on equal footing."

Also detailed in the report is information about how various mobile phone vendors provide Android updates for their devices on very different schedules. For example, when Android released an update to Android 5.0 in November 2014, "it took most manufacturers seven months to release the update," according to Apteligent. "Asus attempted the update first and halted the roll-out due to issues. Motorola ran into bugs as well in their initial release, and on July 20, 2015, it halted the update due to bugs. Samsung, LG, Sony, and HTC successfully pushed out the updates in that seven-month timeframe, while Motorola, ZTE, and Amazon were the three slowest, taking almost 1.5 years to get around to the update."

Part of that, said Levy, is because most device vendors add their own user interfaces and other features to make Android more customized for their products, and that adds time to the update process, delaying updates to end users.

To get its research, Apteligent's data is benchmarked across tens of thousands of mobile apps representing hundreds of millions of application launches, according to the company.

For years, Google has been defending itself against discussions about Android fragmentation.

Back in June 2010, an Android program manager wrote in a post on the Android Developers Blog that Android fragmentation was a conspiracy cooked up by media and pundits, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The battle continues to rage unabated.