Fragmentation is the original sin of Android, the one that explains why Marshmallow, the latest version of the operating system, is installed only on 7.5% of Android devices. Android version 6.0 has been available since last October… Meanwhile, IOS 9, released a month earlier, teamed up 84% of Apple’s mobile devices compatible.
Google has put in place mechanisms to reduce the differences between devices (like Google Play Services that update several of the most important Google applications, regardless of the system) or to speed up the adoption of new Versions of Android. But for a smartphone — other than a Nexus — to be updated, the new software must be validated not only by the manufacturer, but also by the operator. It can happen months between the release of a new Android and its availability for users… when this happens.
Google is pressuring to have its monthly security updates as quickly as possible available for download. This is the case for Nexus obviously. Samsung and LG have committed themselves to providing these maintenance updates, but manufacturers are unable to follow the monthly rate. HTC no longer can not follow: this rhythm is judged ” Unrealistic ». As for Motorola, the commitment has been taken to update recent smartphones (less than three years) twice each year, with the hope of moving to a quarterly rate.
The problem of device fragmentation that arises for manufacturers is the lack of means: the margins realized on the sales of Android smartphones do not allow to ensure a fast and complete monitoring of the devices throughout their lifetime. At the expense of user security… For operators, it’s even longer: the least update requires months of intensive testing to prevent the new software from causing difficulties on their networks. Not to mention that Verizon supports many models of smartphones, on which it is important to carry out the tests.
To put pressure on its partners, Google has set up a sort of ranking listing the best (and worst) students of the Android class, Bloomberg : On top, builders that apply the updates provided by the search engine as quickly as possible. And downstairs, of course, those who take all their time.