Tracking the popularity of different versions of the Android operating system helps device owners know how their own version stacks up.
The latest distribution numbers are in, and surprisingly, Android 7.0 has jumped more than two percent since March. That is in stark contrast to the meager advances it has made since its release at the end of August.
According to the Android Developer Dashboard, Nougat devices have jumped 2.1 percent from last month’s numbers. Android 7.0 and 7.1 now account for 4.9 percent together, compared to 2.8 percent in March. Marshmallow is still the most common API level at 31.2 percent. Going by Android versions, however, the reigning king is still Lollipop with 32 percent — though Marshmallow is close behind.
In contrast, Apple’s iOS 10 was released in the middle of September and was listed as installed on 79 percent of devices as of February.
Even though 31.2 percent — the share of devices running Marshmallow — sounds like a small number, it accounts for a lot of phones, especially considering there have been well over 1.4 billion Android devices activated since September 2015. It’s an improvement, but the numbers continue to highlight one of Android’s biggest problems: Fragmentation. Google issues monthly security updates and rolls out version updates to all of its supported Pixel, Nexus, and Android One devices, but these are not always released in a timely manner by manufacturers and carriers for other devices.
|2.3.3 – 2.3.7||Gingerbread||10||0.9 percent|
|4.0.3 – 4.0.4||Ice Cream Sandwich||15||0.9 percent|
|4.1.x||Jelly Bean||16||3.5 percent|
*The data above is from Google. It was collected during a seven-day period ending on April 3, 2017. Any versions with less than 0.1 percent distribution are not shown.
Nougat 7.0 was the only version to see some gains this month — all other Android versions went down, while 7.1 stayed at 0.4 percent. During the January data collection period, Google added the entry for 7.1 as it saw wide rollout in December 2016. That has fragmented Nougat’s numbers, but now almost five percent of Android devices have Nougat.
Nougat’s numbers will continue to increase as manufacturers and carriers begin to push updates and as more devices are released this year, but it will be a slow and arduous process. Google’s Pixel smartphones are reportedly “very popular” according to Verizon and if it becomes a household name as Samsung has managed to achieve with its Galaxy lineup, then Google’s dream of having a large user base with the latest version of Android will come true.
Nougat likely saw a bigger increase last month because more and more flagship devices from 2016 and prior have been receiving the update.
The huge number of people using older versions of Android is not a good thing, as software vulnerabilities and bugs may never be fixed. As such, the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission sent letters to software giants, including Apple and Google, as well as manufacturers and carriers, inquiring about the security process and how they push updates to consumers.
We’ll continue to update this post as Google updates its Android distribution figures.
Article originally published in August. Updated on 04-11-2017 by Adam Ismail: Added April figures.