Android fragmentation isn’t just annoying for users, it’s also bad for their security. If you want proof of this, then look no further than the following statistic: Roughly 95% of all iPhones are encrypted right now while only 2% of Android phones can say the same. The reason for this is simple: Google did not start mandating full-disk encryption on flagship devices until Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which still has a painfully low share of the Android smartphone market. As a result, the vast majority of Android devices in the world lack this crucial security protocol.
Here’s a graphic that shows how many Android phones and iPhones are encrypted:
That is obviously not good.
Google has pledged for years to improve Android’s fragmentation issues but so far it’s made little concrete progress in getting device manufacturers and carriers to get their devices upgraded in a timely fashion. Some recently discovered code in the first Android N developer preview suggests that Google has started to separate its mobile operating system into two pieces: The core OS and the user interface that OEMs modify to add their own apps and features.
Splitting these two components could theoretically allow Google to quickly push out important updates to the core OS while also letting OEMs push out changes to their own apps and overlays without worrying about how they will affect the platform’s overall functionality. We’ll have to wait and see whether this change leads to a massive increase in the percentage of encrypted Android phones, however.