That Android devices are almost always late when it comes to receiving upgrades to the newer versions of the operating system has never been a secret. It has been a recurring talking point for the over a decade that Android has existed. So much that Google has been hesitant to continue giving month by month updates of how the uptake of new versions looks like month after month as it used to in the past.
However, the ending week being one where the company hosted hundreds of developers during the annual Android Developer Summit, it did let lose its guard and we have some numbers to gawk at, get frustrated with and cite for the foreseeable future.
According to Google, it took Android Pie, which was until August its latest version of Android, a whole year to run on over a fifth of all the devices that run its mobile operating system.
“…in late August 2019, just before we launched Android 10, Android 9 (Pie) accounted for 22.6% of the ecosystem. This makes it the largest fraction of the ecosystem, and shows that Project Treble has had a positive effect on updatability,” Google announced to developers in an update on its blog.
“The adoption of Android Pie has been much higher than that of Android Oreo and Oreo MR1 when measured relative to the launch date,” the blog post continues.
Google attributes this to its groundbreaking rework of how Android is designed and deployed, mostly by modularizing the update process.
Announced 2 years ago with Android 8, Oreo, Project Treble, as that rework is widely known as, laid the groundwork for the increasing number of devices that we have seen enrolled in early previews of upcoming versions of Android over the last two years. First with Android Pie and, recently, with Android 10.
As a result, device makers like Essential have been able to take advantage and avail launch day updates for their devices, something that previously used to be strictly limited to Google’s own smartphone lineups. First with the Nexus lineup and now with the Pixels. Just a few weeks later, Android 10 is up and running on other devices like the Nokia 8.1 as well and being publicly tested on tens of other devices as well.
Going into the future, things can only look up. Google is reportedly pushing Android device makers to release devices running only the latest version, Android 10, after January 2020 by making that a condition for certification to run its mobile services.
Furthermore, Google plans to be releasing critical monthly security via the Play Store, thereby bypassing device makers and further moving away from the layers of protocol and different system architectures it often has to navigate and which have eroded any seriousness from the platform’s update credentials.