What’s the most popular version of Android?

Google’s Android service has been growing in number and importance since its first public release in 2008.

What's the most popular version of Android?

Since then we’ve seen it grow from the underdog competitior to the most popular mobile OS around, powering over one billion devices and handling operations ranging from games consoles to set-top boxes, and smart TVs to mobile devices.

All told, Android is probably Google’s biggest technological contribution alongside its eponymous search engine, online map, and a platform to find amusing videos with.

Android Version

However, it isn’t perfect, and from a developer point of view it’s too fragmented. It’s one reason why iOS tends to get apps first, or why some never reach Android at all.

But just how fragmented are things? And which version of Android is everybody actually using?

To answer those questions we’ve put together an infographic (click to see a far larger version) breaking down the versions of Android used most, and offering some thoughts on the matter too.

Android Distribution Version Lollipop Infographic

As you can see from our infographic, both Honeycomb and Lollipop don’t make the cut, with device owners sticking with KitKat and Gingerbread – or upgrading away into Ice Cream Sandwich.

It also shows that, while most users are running on KitKat, more devices are running a variant of Jelly Bean instead – with the majority of them sticking to 4.2 instead of 4.3 or 4.1.

While this may seem somewhat unexpected on the surface, there are seemingly reasonable explanations for most points. 

Many will paint this as a failiure for Lollipop, espeically due to its buggy nature. However, it’s worth noting that Lollipop only officially launched in the middle of November, and even then it only came to some Nexus devices.

By the end of Google’s survey, which closed on the 5th January, most other manufacturers hadn’t started rolling out the update to their devices. Samsung had only released an update for the Galaxy S5 in South Korea, and even now users are waiting for their region to recieve the update, and older devices still have no concrete rollout date.

Android Google Garden

Conversely, KitKat has such an obscene amount of users because it launched at the right time in October, arriving on many devices soon after and then was the default OS for all new Android phone releases in 2014. Phones released towards the tail end of 2014 all came with KitKat installed on them, waiting to recieve an update to Android Lollipop when available.

As for why there are so many devices still running older versions of Android, we can probably turn our attention to developing countries who have an install base of more basic feature phones running Android. However, it’s interesting to see that while Gingerbread has a large market share, most users who upgraded to Honeycomb have seemingly moved on to Ice Cream Sandwich too – leaving Honeycomb installed on less than 1 million devices.

Let’s hope Google makes our infographic-making efforts null and void by releasing some updated information once Lollipop has rolled out to the rest of the world.

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