Android 4.x Finally Leapfrogs Gingerbread

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Benjo

Took me a while to figure out how to root my phone and load custom roms (went from Gingerbread to Jellybean 4.2.2). It looks and feels different, but I can get the same level of functionality I want/need with either JB or GB.

Gingerbread devices will shrink to the same percentages as other Android versions eventually, one broken tablet and smartphone at a time.

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Philippe Lemay

If these stats are based on which device people are accessing the Google Play Store from, this sort of presents a lopsided view of the whole Android market. Because I know a LOT of people who own inexpensive little Androids and who don't even know that Android has an app store, they just treat it like a phone with a shiny touch-screen. They're probably still rocking 2.3 (if not earlier) but don't show up in these statistics because they will never bother to visit the Play store.

There could be a lot of Androids owners that fall into this category... which could push the Gingerbread percentage up quite a bit. Though I suppose these people could be considered unimportant stats, since they will never do things like buy apps (which is often an important factor in these studies, to see where the best place is to optimize and make more revenue).

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MaximumMike

Yea, but if they aren't on Google play, then they aren't downloading apps. And if they aren't downloading apps, developers don't have to worry about them. So, who cares?

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petrol42

At this point, Jelly Bean is pretty good so Google could help the fragmentation issue by slowing down and waiting a while longer before releasing a new version so the devices could catch up.

I'm sure there's more going on behind the scenes of an updated version of Android but all that seems to happen is they come up with a new way to swipe to get to your notification screen or a different way of getting to your widgets. On top of that, custom UIs like Samsung's touchwiz don't make the upgrade look much different because all the versions look the same.

There are 8 versions of Android, 9 if you include Honeycomb vs. 6 for iOS. The app developer has to try and put up with all these new versions and some developers seem to not even want to put up with it at all so they don't develop for Android at all.

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Brewskie

Can you update an Android 2.3 phone to 4.X?

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petrol42

Unless you get an OTA update from the manufacturer or the carrier, you would have to root your phone and find a custom ROM to get Android 4.x onto your phone.

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Sir Hobbes3

I really think Google needs to do something about all the android devices and the fragmentation. Less devices and slower updates for all devices to the current version would be better.

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MaximumMike

double post

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nsvander

So how is that leapfrogging? By my math 4.X is still 27.6 percentage points behind Gingerbread. Am I missing something here?

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p47riot

You're counting Jelly Bean only (4.1/4.2) They're including ICS (4.0) when they say 4.x

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Paul_Lilly

Bingo. Android 4.x = Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean.

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someuid

"The dirty "F" word in the Android camp is "fragmentation," a seemingly inevitable result of having an open source operating system as popular as Android. While Google-brand phones like the Nexus 4 are quick to receive the latest builds, third-party handsets and tablets typically take much longer because of the amount of testing that needs to be done, especially with third-party overlays and carrier customizations."

Google really needs to do something about this. Between the fragmentation and the inability to set application permissions myself, these are the two items keeping Android moving from a toy OS to a serious OS.

I think most of the blame lies not in the OS being open source, but in the vendor custom code and carrier customizations. If they'd stop with the pointless "look at us we do it better" they could concentrate more on rolling out the newer versions of Android to their devices. If the carriers would stop with getting exclusive access to this model or that model, or demanding that models be created that work only on their network, we wouldn't have such a mind boggling plethora of 50+ different models of phones.

All of this is made even more painful by Microsoft's total flop of Win8 on portable devices. It is obvious with the hardware specs of the Surface tablets/laptops that Win8 isn't slimmed down enough to work on portable devices like Android and iOS.

Vendor lock-in and carrier iron-fisted control these days make the attempted proprietary designes of IBM (MCGA graphics, EISA) in the 80's and 90's look like small potatos.

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Hey.That_Dude

Actually, Fragmentation is unsolvable on mobile devices. You can blame ARM for that. Look up "Memory Mapped I/O" and then you'll start to see why EVERY SINGLE CHIP is friggin' different. different ports and not even all of them sharing the types of ports.
Anyways, Fragmentation isn't as big an issue as contracts that lock you into keeping your phone full of crapware that can pose security risks. Because, if the lay man breaks the contract and then something goes wrong, he's screwed.

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MaximumMike

Well said, especially in regard to the vendors and carriers. But the one place I would disagree with you is on the issue of fragmentation.

What other OS can claim less fragmentation? Certainly not iOS. Almost 90% of Android Devices are on either 2.3.X or or 4.X. But you might argue there is significant fragmentation between ICS and Jelly Bean, and you would be right. But let's not forget that similar fragmentation exists between different versions of iOS 6. Look here: http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/156165/ios-6-1-2-already-most-popular-version-of-apples-ios-less-than-1-week-after-launch
Furthermore, not every Apple Device running either iOS 6 or iOS 5 can access all the features of the OS. We might refer to this as hidden fragmentation, and I'd imagine it's pretty frustrating for developers, a crucial point to the whole fragmentation argument.

Then, there's Windows. It's a huge fragmented mess and always has been. At the pinnacle of market dominance you had systems all running Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, and Windows 2000. Things finally stabilized with Windows XP. But now we're back to Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP all having significant market share. I hardly see how this is any less fragmented than Android.

And then there's Linux. My gosh, nothing could be a more fragmented mess than Linux (which Android is by the way, but I'm specifically talking about the desktop Linux market). And don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Linux. But I'm not reading a new article every day about the woes of Linux fragmentation either. And I don't see people making comments like, "Linux will remain a toy OS until it can clean up its fragmentation."

What's left in the consumer market worth mentioning? MAC OS? Well, it's the only OS on the consumer market you could clearly argue is significantly less fragmented than Android. But at what cost? Look at the market penetration. What is it around 7% I think? And most of that is driven by consumer association with trendy iOS devices. Without the success of those devices, it would be far less, if the appeal were generated entirely from the OS's own merits. In and of itself, it is a niche OS with very little appeal to anyone who isn't a graphics designer or musician. And this is the success of an OS with little to no fragmentation? 7% market share? And Apple has been around for how long? Seriously, 7%, even with the rabid appeal of iDevices?

It is plain to me that fragmentation is a non-issue. The only real fragmentation issue I see with Android is that technical writers can't stop bringing it up.

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p47riot

Absolutely agree with you. "Fragmentation" is about 90% i-hype, akin to the Mac ads that stated that if you get a PC, you'll get viruses/malware, your hair will fall out and a dingo will eat your baby. I currently have 6 android devices in my house, all running different versions ranging from 2.3 Blur to 4.2.2 AOSP (and one iPhone that my work gave me), and have yet to run into any problems that were caused by fragmentation.

One could argue, I suppose, that developer's feel some pain with so many different builds to support, but I haven't ever heard a huge outcry from the developer community about this, and is no more limiting than the Windows or Linux landscape as you mentioned.

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KuroZero

+1 and a cookie.

Well said mate.

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