Google updated its Android version tracker on Tuesday, revealing the latest version of its Android operating system is slowly gaining ground. The estimated number of devices running Ice Cream Sandwich has increased by more than two-thirds over the last month, from 2.9% of all Android devices to 4.9% as measured during the 14-day period ending on May 1st. The bulk of Android devices continue to run the year-and-a-half old Gingerbread operating system (64.4%), followed by the two-year old Froyo OS (20.9%). The adoption rate of Android 2.3 is still growing, however devices running Froyo decreased by almost 3%. As more and more manufacturers update their mobile portfolios and as the HTC One X, the HTC One S and the Samsung Galaxy S3 hit the market with Ice Cream Sandwich, the operating system is likely to see continued growth over the coming months. Google is likely to unveil its next major Android build some time this summer or in the third quarter of 2012, however, further complicating the spread of Android operating system versions currently in use. More →
The iPhone’s unprecedented success stems from the combination of multiple factors, not the least of which are Apple’s industry-leading design prowess and its ability to make software that appeals to enthusiasts and mass-market users alike. The culture and hype surrounding Apple products doesn’t hurt either, of course. Where the overall experience is concerned, Apple wisely created a scenario that gives it control of both hardware and software, removing carriers from the equation to an extent and ensuring the end user enjoys the experience Apple envisions without any substantial impediments. Despite this ideal scenario, some industry watchers maintain that fragmentation is unavoidable to some degree, and this issue exists in the iOS ecosystem just as it does with Android. More →
Google updated its Android version tracker on Monday, revealing that the latest version of its mobile operating system — Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich — has more than doubled its installed base over the past month. Unfortunately, that only carries Google’s current Android build to a 2.9% share of all devices. Combined with Honeycomb, this means that as of March 2nd, just 6.2% of Android devices are now running a modern version of Android. Meanwhile, the bulk of Android devices run the 15-month-old Gingerbread operating system (63.7%) and the second most popular version of the platform is the 23-month-old Froyo OS (23.1%). First unveiled in October 2009 and currently at 6%, Android 2.1 Eclair is still found on nearly as many devices as Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich combined. Read on for more. More →
Fragmentation is a recurring issue that haunts the Android ecosystem in many ways. While Google’s latest version of the Android platform was intended in large part to address the issue — which many believe to have peaked when the software giant launched Android 3.0 Honeycomb and maintained two entirely separate versions of Android for smartphones and tablets — Ice Cream Sandwich has not yet done its job. Four-and-a-half months since its debut, only 1% of Android devices currently run the unified Android 4.0 operating system according to Google’s own data. To compound matters, a recent report suggested Google may launch Android 5.0 Jelly Bean as soon as this summer. There is no question that fragmentation is a real issue for the Android platform, but is it really as big a deal as some make it out to be? More →
Though Hewlett-Packard was unable to produce webOS devices that consumers were interested in buying — at a positive margin, at least — CEO Meg Whitman still thinks the beleaguered platform has legs. After unsuccessfully trying to sell or license webOS, HP decided late last year to donate its $1.2 billion platform to the open source community. The firm still plans to launch new webOS devices in the future, however, and Meg Whitman explained HP’s position while speaking with CRN. Read on for more. More →
At the Consumer Electronics Show, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt spoke about the idea of fragmentation in Android. Schmidt argued that while there is a “differentiation” between Android devices, it isn’t the same as fragmentation. “Differentiation is positive, fragmentation is negative,” said Schmidt. “Differentiation means that you have a choice and the people who are making the phones, they’re going to compete on their view of innovation, and they’re going to try and convince you that theirs is better than somebody else.” Schmidt defined fragmentation as having an app that runs on one device but not another, with Android this is not the case 99% of the time. The differentiation between devices comes from the various skins that manufactures lay over the Android operating system. ”We absolutely allow [manufacturers] to add or change the user interface as long as they don’t break the apps. We see this as a plus; [it] gives you far more choices,” said Schmidt. While everyone who buys an iPhone receive the same user experience, Schmidt doesn’t think the same is necessary with Android. ”It’s not required that everyone use the same interface,” Schmidt said. “People are free to make the necessary changes. What’s great is if you don’t like it, you can buy the phone from someone else.” Android is all about choice, not every consumer is looking for a slide-out keyboard, a 4.65-inch display, or a dual-core processor, the different manufactures allow you to find a device that is perfect for you. Though those specifications sounds pretty good to me. More →
One of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich’s most noticeable new features is the “Holo” theme, a set of UI widgets and design elements baked right into the operating system that give it a unique look. The Holo theme also provides a set of visual elements that help developers to create apps and widgets that will have a unified look and feel. Google is so proud of this new theme that the company has made the inclusion of an unmodified Holo theme a compatibility requirement for vendors that want access to the Android Market on their devices. Google is looking to give Android a more unified look, while still supporting manufacturer skins and helping more devices update more quickly. Themes such as Samsung’s TouchWiz, HTC’s Sense UI and Motorola’s MOTOBLUR interface can still be included on devices, however these themes cannot alter default widgets or other elements as much as they do now. More →
Several analysts believe Amazon has an imminent hit on its hands with its upcoming Kindle Fire, a $199 Android-powered tablet that features deep integration with Amazon’s many digital services. While Amazon’s new tablet will be available for just over six weeks in 2011, some analysts think the company could ship as many as 5 million Kindle Fire slates during the holiday quarter. Rapid adoption of that magnitude would certainly make the Fire the fastest-selling Android tablet of all time but according to Barclays Group analyst Ben Reitzes, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer aren’t worried. Read on for more. More →
There have been six smartphone distribution updates since Android was released: Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread and most recently, Ice Cream Sandwich. One man, Michael DeGusta, decided to map out every release and every Android smartphone launched in the United States before July 2010. He then compared the revision updates to the iPhone. The results are a bit surprising, even if you’re aware the Android market is fragmented. For example, DeGusta discovered that 7 of the 18 smartphones in his chart never ran a current version of Android. 12 of the devices only ran a current version of Android for a “matter of weeks or less” before a new distribution was released. Here are several other compelling facts discovered by DeGusta:
- 10 of 18 were at least two major versions behind well within their two year contract period.
- 11 of 18 stopped getting any support updates less than a year after release.
- 13 of 18 stopped getting any support updates before they even stopped selling the device or very shortly thereafter.
- 15 of 18 don’t run Gingerbread, which shipped in December 2010.
- In a few weeks, when Ice Cream Sandwich comes out, every device on here will be another major version behind.
- At least 16 of 18 will almost certainly never get Ice Cream Sandwich.
- “It only gets worse for people who bought their phone late in its sales period.”
As a result of the fragmentation, DeGusta argues that consumers get “screwed,” developers are constrained and security risks increase when support updates aren’t applied to earlier devices. Read on for a link to DeGusta’s research and a full infographic. More →
Last week reports surfaced claiming that Google was clamping down on what its Android partners could and could not tweak in newer versions of the operating system. One report filed by Bloomberg Businessweek cited “dozens” of industry executives who said that Android partners will no longer be able to make “willy-nilly tweaks to the software” if they want early access to new builds. On Wednesday Google’s Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering for Android, wrote a blog post in an effort to address concerns. “We don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ solution,” Rubin wrote. “The Android platform has already spurred the development of hundreds of different types of devices – many of which were not originally contemplated when the platform was first created. As always, device makers are free to modify Android to customize any range of features for Android devices. This enables device makers to support the unique and differentiating functionality of their products. If someone wishes to market a device as Android-compatible or include Google applications on the device, we do require the device to conform with some basic compatibility requirements.” Rubin said Android’s “anti-fragmentation” program has been in place since Android 1.0, and exists as an effort to help create some consistency for developers. He added that Google remains committed to keeping Android an open platform and confirmed Google’s coders are hard at work bringing Honeycomb features to phones. More →
The debate surrounding Android fragmentation continues to draw attention, and the issue resurfaced on Monday following the results of a recent survey. According to Baird analyst William Powers, roughly 87% of Android developers believe that fragmentation is a problem for the Android platform. 57% feel Android’s fragmentation problem is either “huge” or “meaningful,” and about 30% agree that it is a problem to a lesser degree. Google said this past November that the overwhelming majority of Android devices — 77% — run Android 2.1 or Android 2.2, but developers apparently still feel that the existence of multiple Android versions in the market at the same time is less than ideal. What’s more, the company’s recent decision to provide limited early access to upcoming Android builds for partners whose plans for the software are approved by Google suggests that the company views fragmentation as more of a problem than it might convey publicly. More →
According to a report filed by Bloomberg Businessweek, Google is beginning to shorten the proverbial leash that Android licensees are currently attached to. Citing “dozens” of industry executives working at “key companies in the Android ecosystem,” the publication writes that Google will need to approve the future Android-plans of its software partners in exchange for early access to upcoming builds of the mobile operating system. “There will be no more willy-nilly tweaks to the software,” reads the report. “No more partnerships formed outside of Google’s purview.” More →
Google’s Android team revealed Tuesday that over three quarters of Android-powered devices are now running either Android 2.1 or Android 2.2. Google constantly monitors this and other data using information gathered when devices access the Android Market. The current figures, which take into account all devices that have accessed the Android Market in the 14-day period ending November 1st, suggests that the majority of Android users are equipped with current OS builds. Google’s numbers show that 77% of Android devices currently run Android 2.2 or Android 2.1. Android 1.6 was found on 15% of phones and Android 1.5 was present on just 7.9%. If 75% of Android users have access to modern OS builds packed with the latest and greatest Android has to offer, is fragmentation really such a huge problem? Maybe not… but then again, Google’s data could be skewed. It is entirely possible that users with older devices simply don’t access the Market as often because the apps they want aren’t compatible with older versions of Android. More →