Below is a snapshot of the Android platform distribution, as of September 2012.

Android Platforms Sept 2012

As you can see, the majority of the devices out there, close to 60%, are still 2.3 (Gingerbread). This is followed by ICS with close to 21%. Froyo 2.2 is 14%.

I hope that by March (but more likely, summertime or later) of 2013, that by then the majority of the Android devices out there are 4.0+. This would make the Android app developer’s life in general much simpler — by (1) minimizing the number of major Android platforms to deal with, and (2) making it easier/cheaper to implement (or move up to) the recommended Android design guidelines. The result of this includes (1) cheaper to develop/maintain apps, (2) consistent apps per developer, and (3) consistent look/feel/behavior across the app market.

For this to happen, device manufacturers and operators must help transform the above piechart to be mostly 4.0+ Android devices. They can help by literally selling less (and even better, stop selling) Gingerbread/2.3 and older devices. If you look around you will see that operators are still selling Gingerbread devices. And we need Google to have more cojones with respect to this and stimulate, if you will, both the device manufacturers and operators to move forward — this transition is taking forever! (Note: Gingerbread was introduced on December 6, 2010.)

Some customers may leave feedback as “why the app does not follow the Android UI guidelines”, or “why the app doesn’t support the ICS UI paradigm” — but again, 4.0+ is just a smaller fraction of what is out there!

In the meantime, there is the Android Support (Compatibility) library. Also, see Backwards Compatibility (Android Design Patterns).

ceo

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2 thoughts on “Android Platform Versions (2012)

  • September 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm
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    1. Is this really a big concern? The problems with the many different display resolutions and the many phone models are still there. Compare to Apple that has only one phone model in total per year and also very few display resolutions..

    2. Google should take the control here and secure that future versions of Android can be installed on older phones.

    I could install iOS 6.x on my 3GS without any problems, even though it’s a very old phone. Why is that not the case for Android?

    Phone manufacturers need to stop making Android variants. Android should be Android. Manufacturers should of course be free to bundle any apps they want, but Android and the UI need to be intact, so that vanilla Android of any newer version can be installed..

    What if different PC makers used their own variants of Windows?

    My 10 cents.

  • September 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm
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    It is a concern — in this particular blog I just focus on the Android platform fragmentation vs. screen sizes and whatnot (which also complicates things). Here I am complaining that It takes forever to move away from old versions and this is in part because operators are positioning these old versions still.

    With respect to installing Android 4.0 on old device model, that would be wonderful. But I think the issue is related to CPU power + memory requirements by latest versions of Android.

    I totally agree on “Pure Android” per above.

    ceo

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