This July, Apple published another milestone for its current mobile operating system. As of July 26, iOS 7 was running on 90 percent of all iOS devices (currently at 91 percent). A recent report from OpenSignal compares that to Google’s current mobile operating system, Android 4.4, which is only running on 20.9 percent of devices.
The report refers to fragmentation on Android and the benefits and problems that exist for developers. The company notes that the wide range of Android devices available to consumers makes it possible to reach the largest number of users. Developers have a greater global reach than with iOS. However, the variety of devices running Android makes it difficult and time consuming for developers to make apps that run across all devices.
The report shows that, based on data gathered across 682,000 devices, Android fragmentation has quadrupled since 2012. This year, 18,796 distinct Android devices were tracked as compared to 3,997 two years ago.
Additionally, based on the research done by OpenSignal, the 10 most popular Android devices represent only 15 percent of all devices, down from 21 percent last year.
The report notes that, contrary to popular belief, fragmentation benefits Android more than it hurts it. Consumers across the world in a variety of economic positions make it possible for Google’s operating system to reach more people.
It is interesting to think of Android’s prolific fragmentation as being a benefit instead of a hindrance. Even in OpenSignal’s report, the company notes that the incredible variety of screen sizes on Android-based devices presents coding and layout challenges for app developers. All of Apple’s various iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices make up a total of four screen sizes.
However, if sheer number of devices on the market with any Android operating system, no matter how old, is all that matters, than Google has certainly won that race.