Open Signal Devices

Today Open Signal, which among other things crowdsources how well a particular operator works in the real world (and is a very cool thing to see), released a report on Android "fragmentation" based on the users of its app.

It did a nice job showing how many damned Android devices are out there — some 18,796 measured by them, up around 7,000 from a year ago.

And it did a nice job showing how dominant Samsung is as a hardware manufacturer, with some 43 percent of the space.

Open Signal Brands

And it went on about "fragmentation" of the various versions of Android.

Open Signal Fragmentation

And it said not one single word about Google Play Services, the latest version of which as of Google I/O in late June was on 93 percent of all active Android devices.

Google Play Services

Open Signal does, however, agree that it's "an important metric." Just not important enough to mention in the report.

And we're not even sure what they were trying to say here, other than they don't understand API level versus OS level, or are just trying to force a comparison to iOS in there somehow.

Open Signal — Something Something

Anyway, you can real the full report here.

Or you can read Alex Dobie's "Solving the problem of Android updates".

 

Reader comments

Another Android 'fragmentation' report misses the point

55 Comments

I'm never shocked by the slant these things frequently have. It is as if iOS users stick their head in the sand and pretend their own fragmentation doesn't exist. iOS 7 is radically different in features depending on the device it is installed on. Not to mention how grossly unfair it is to break Android down by point release when they don't do that for the iOS chart. Not every iOS 7 device out there is running the latest 7.1.2 after all!

The difference between point upgrades in iOS (7.0 to 7.1, etc) and Android (4.3 to 4.4, etc) is not equivalent. They're breaking it down by major release for both platforms.

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Right. But ios7 on my wife's iPad 2 is not like ios7 on an iphone 5 which isn't like ios7 on an iPhone 5s.

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Galaxy S3, Nexus 5, Moto X (XT1058), and the Nokia X are the biggest names I recognized that were sizable.

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Actually, it's not. The GT-i9500 is the Exynos version of the Galaxy S4 whereas the GT-i905 is the Snapdragon model.

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I've used for Android devices over the past number of years, first was an HTC Desire , followed by a Samsung Galaxy, then a Nexus tablet and a Sony Xperia phone. All of these devices are supposedly samples from the so-called fractured Android universe. I found transitioning from the one device to the other not an issue at all. This "fragmentation" of Android is a non-issue dreamt up by Apple fan boys because they have no argument the can think of against Android devices.

Yep. You hit the nail on the head. The only thing I would like to see Google do in in terms of relieving fragmentation is enforce the same UI restrictions they placed on Android wear and Android TV. OEM's really screw up Android with their ugly skins and people sometimes don't even realize that Samsung phones are in fact Android for example.

Posted via Android Central App on the Moto X

It's Google who screws up products they don't even make but they like putting their name on stuff.

Stock android is a sad JOKE and comical bore filled with poor battery life, crappy storage options and piss poor camera nobody needs that.

Android Wear is a sad reflection of stock android nobody needs a boring notification watch waste of time.

Android TV and Android Wear going nowhere fast period.

From my Galaxy Note 3 on T-Mobile via Android Central App

So your pimp slapping Note 3 running a vanilla Android ROM will have poor battery life, crappy storage options, and a piss poor camera? You're a goddamn genius, aren't you?! Maybe you should find another hobby that doesn't require any intelligence.

I had to go back to an EVO 4G for a month or so last year. The only things I couldn't really do were run Chrome and use the Google search bar. If that thing had more app storage and a better battery, it would still be a decent little phone.

Lame story... Choices does offer fragmentation.. But not like how the article states... APPLE has like 5 devices and all of them act the same they just cant do the same stuff

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I don't know how google play services are helping here . Google play services provides APIs that allow apps to provide functionality that directly integrates with Google services, such as account syncing, Google+ (sharing, single sign-on), Google Maps, Location APIs, Google Play Games, Cloud Messaging, Android Device Manager,wallet... Just google services APIs,thats all .

Google can say whatever they want on that io stage but fragmentation is a big problem and google play services are not helping much when developers need to support that buggy gingerbread.

This article completely misses the point. I know it might hurt your delicate soul to use logic or reasoning on your platform of choice, but I think you should try. Android fragmentation is a tremendous problem. Google has failed to even attempt a solution. Don't deflect with discussions of other platforms, it's unproductive and irrelevant.

Fragmentation exists on all platforms. Honestly the only SLIGHT issue I see with it (on android) is the very few amount of apps one can't download because of a device type/version number requirement not being met. But then you can argue that iOS devices and windows phones have the same issue.

This whole fragmentation gibberish doesn't hinder the way I use my phone. Besides a few apps I can't download, which doesn't bother me. So I don't fully understand why its such a huge issue in the nerd community.

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You need to provide actual details in order for your statement to be valid. Explain this "tremendous problem." What problems have you personally run into with fragmentation?

Play services is an important piece but go pick up a device on 4.1 and use it after being used to KitKat and tell me that the face that it is 3 versions behind isn't an issue.

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I don't think I disagree with you there. The bigger question is from a developer standpoint. All versions of an OS on any platform tend to leave somebody behind.

This whole thing was just forced.

Its kind of an unfair argument. So you are looking at a device that's 2 years older. Pick up an iPhone 4S, on iOS 7 and tell me that its not an almost unusable experience when coming from an iPhone 5S. Same OS number, but not as great of an experience. What's the difference if the OS version number is the same if the end result is the same.

This is some very interesting information. We all know how large of a market share Samsung has, but to see it broken down by device like this visually really puts it in perspective.

Yep. Like stated above, it is a ploy by Apple fans to somehow find fault in android that doesn't exist. Would you rather have device choice or be locked to the ONE flagship phone being manufactured at a time with an OS that limits user control in every aspect, and with the ONLY app store weeding out apps they don't think you should have. People who can make decisions for themselves use Android, and people who cannot think independently and/or follow the masses like sheep being led to their pen use iOS.

Posted via Android Central App on the Moto X

Well, depends how you look at it. From a development point of view it is probably a pretty big deal. A ton of apps have issues when a new release of Android happens. Especially when Google arbitrarily changes things like SD card support.

The SD card support was not an arbitrary change. It was made for security reasons. The only thing that is different now is apps can only write to a single, specific folder. Before apps had full reign over the SD card allowing them to mess up other apps folders if they wanted. The average user won't even know the difference.

Posted via Android Central App on the Moto X

Sd card support was a arbitrary change by Google if it wasn't they would've gave their users a headsup before they went behind everyone's back to make the change.

Google knows if they had warned or told users of the change from 4.3 jellybean to Kitkat 4,4,2 with the sdcard situation nobody would've updated so they said nothing about the change.

Hiding behind security related issues is a farce I've used sdcards since 2009 in every Android handset and NEVER had a problem or issue.

Now when Android L comes they will bring back proper support for sdcards or suffer even more platform device.

From my Galaxy Note 3 on T-Mobile via Android Central App

When you use the term fragmentation your intention is already evident. Otherwise you would be using a less negative term like Android diversity, variability, or phrases like the Android ecosystem.
The problem of vendors and carriers refusing to do upgrade to devices that are within acceptable life span (I would say 2 years since purchased, and still within contract, not 2 years from launch date) will only be solved by legal terms. When a massive attack is performed on unpatched Androids (for which Google already released a patched version) there will be a major class action that will shake the pants of both, vendors and carriers. I don't want this to happen, but it is the only thing that will force them.

My LG Optimus G is still on 4.1.2 and Sprint can care less. If a lot of phones are bricked because OEMs and carriers didn't send out a update and are under an insurance plan, the insurance companies will most likely go after the OEMs and carriers to recoup their losses.

Posted from my LG LS970 via "The Force"

I would really like to see how well Google has done at getting OEMs to release devices running KitKat. Has anyone done a poll of released phones from 2014 that shipped with 4.4+? I know we were still seeing phones announced with seriously old versions back in 2013 but I feel like most every phone mentioned lately is coming with kitkat. I would love to see an article on AC looking not only at flagships released this year but also had mid-range and maybe smaller OEMs..looking at how well google has been at encouraging OEMs to release phones with current android versions

My s5 has a lot of android L features like security, and not being interrupted when a call comes in, But doesn't run L. You can't always look at the version if your doing most of the same stuff on your device already.

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Every time I see these charts compared to iOS I always wonder why the bigger story isn't that only 91% of Apple devices are on the latest version. I realize there are hardware limitations of old devices but Apple does control the whole ecosystem.

For the same reason that Google doesn't update all of their Nexus devices to the most recent Android version forever. I'm sure Apple could get iOS 7 to work on a 3GS, but they made the call that the user experience wouldn't be good enough. A Nexus One could probably run some stripped down version of Kit Kat, but would it be worth it? Probably not.

I don't think it even makes sense to compare OS fragmentation between Android Apple. Apple pretty much represents to ideal case for OS updates: they have absolute control over every aspect of hardware in their devices, extraordinary monetary resources, and a user base that tends to upgrade relatively frequently. If they've got 91% of their devices on the current OS, we should just look at 91% as the practical maximum.

The bigger point is there are 18 thousand of different android smartphone models spread across dozens of manufacturers. Considering this, Android is doing amazingly well! While Apple has a handful of devices specifically made for their own software.
Can't compare the two, unless you are trying to make the case that several generations of Apple hardware equates to tens of thousands of Android smartphone models spread across the years.

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Via HTC One

This subject should not even be compared Android vs Apple. You're talking about Android which has about 50 (I'm guessing) manufacturers that builds a mind boggling number of phones and keeps growing every year to Apple, one manufacturer who builds one phone a year. This is such a stupid subject IMO, most customers who buys a entry to mid level Android device doesn't care or even know what OS they are running. They are completely happy with what they have. This topic is for those who try to belittle the Android OS. This is coming from a fan of both Android and Apple products. September should be one heck of a month!!!!!!!!

I had thought this was about internal fragmentation originally until beginning to read the article. Once I had read it though, I found this is apparently regarding the totals of each manufacturers devices out there.

Be that as it may, for the record, I use a 3 year old Xoom running a custom Android 4.4.4 (Omnirom) Rom

Though I am using an old tablet, quite effectively, I might add, the fact that I'm using the very latest Rom, puts me in the top 20 percent of Android users.

We are anticipating that Google is putting the development tools out to developers rapidly enough that more devices are being pushed to the next new OS more rapidly than ever before, and this should take care of that segment of Android fragmentation pretty well.

Android L here I come.

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I still use my Xoom (OmniROM 4.4.4). That tablet is 2.5 years old and still going strong. The dev community refuses to let it die :)

I hate when things like this come out. They never look at the Google Play Services stats. Google Play Services are the backbone of updated software. It includes most of the Android features, and security fixes. All through the Play Store.

Posted with my Nexus 7 2012 or Moto X via the Android Central App

Android: Something for everybody!
iOS : One thing for everybody!

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