Android's Massive Fragmentation Problem In Two Handy Charts

One of the biggest and most valid criticisms of Google's Android mobile operating system is that it's become far too fragmented, making it difficult for developers to write apps that work consistently across the ecosystem.

That's mostly because Google gives away Android for free and lets anyone modify it.

Today, a company called OpenSignal has a new research report that demonstrates just how fragmented the Android ecosystem has become. According to OpenSignal (and Google), there are still eight different versions of Android in circulation, and most Android users are not running the most recent version.

Compare that to Apple's iOS for iPhones and iPads. A majority of users are running the most current version:

android fragmentation report from opensignal versus ios OpenSignal

OpenSignal has counted a whopping 11,868 distinct Android devices this year. Last year, that number was 3,997. Here's a neat chart breaking down the devices by manufacturer. Samsung is on top, of course:

android fragmentation chart by manufacturer opensignal OpenSignal

So, what can you take away from this?

It's wonderful that there are so many hardware choices for those who want to try Android. Apple can't offer that with the iPhone and iPad. But the problem with having so many different versions of Android and so many devices with different screen sizes is that it's really tough for developers to make apps that work perfectly on each one.

It also proves that it's tough for Android manufacturers like Samsung, LG, HTC, and Motorola to push out timely software updates with the latest Android features from Google.
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