Android Fragmentation: One billion active devices now out of date

Google has been trying to tackle the crippling issue of Android fragmentation for years now, but the latest evidence seems to prove the firm’s efforts are futile.

Official figures released yesterday showed just 0.3% of Android devices are running on the 2017 Oreo operating system.

While that meagre return is nothing new, analysis of the data shows that adoption of new versions may actually be slowing down.

Related: When will my phone get Android Oreo?

Programmer Dan Luu created a graph from the version distribution data, which appears to show a smaller fraction of Android users are benefitting from the latest version.

In a blog post, he wrote: “Something that wouldn’t have been obvious without looking at the data is that the uptake of new versions seems to be slowing down – we can see this by looking at the last few contour lines at the top right of the graph, corresponding to the most recent Android releases. These lines have a shallower slope than the contour lines for previous releases. Unfortunately, with this data alone, we can’t tell why the slope is shallower.”

Luu attributes the malaise to a combination of three possible factors; Android growth is slowing down, Android device turnover is slowing down and that fewer devices are receiving updates.

A billion out of date

The programmer also picked up on another worrying landmark during his analysis. Judging from the graph he created, Luu believes there are now over 1 billion active Android devices that are at least two years out of date.

He writes: “In May 2017, Google announced that there are over two billion active Android devices. If we look at the latest stats (the far right edge), we can see that nearly half of these devices are two years out of date.

“At this point, we should expect that there are more than one billion devices that are two years out of date! Given Android’s update model, we should expect approximately 0% of those devices to ever get updated to a modern version of Android.”

At this point, it’s difficult to know what Google can do about Android fragmentation, short of convincing everyone to buy Pixel or Android One devices.

Year after year, owners of expensive flagship devices are forced to wait more than six months for OS updates and the problem is showing no signs of abating.

Even forthcoming new Android handsets, like the OnePlus 5T are expected to arrive with Android Nougat rather than Oreo.

Are you fed up of waiting for new Android versions? Is it enough to drive you to a Pixel or *gasp* the iPhone? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.