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There are still a few days left in 2019, but I’m not holding my breath. After more than six months of no updates, Google updated its Android distribution data in May. Since then, more than seven months (234 days to be exact) have passed without a single update.
The Android developer website hosts a distribution dashboard that details the adoption of Google’s mobile operating system versions. With over 2.5 billion active Android devices out there, Android’s distribution is useful information for anyone who makes decisions regarding Google’s mobile operating system. It’s incredibly valuable to know how widely (or narrowly) an Android version — or more importantly, an API level — has been adopted.
In October, Google did share that Android Pie had 22.6% adoption in August 2019. That meant the second-latest version of Android was running on a fifth of devices after some 12 months. Google did not, however, share adoption numbers for any other Android version, including Android 10, the latest version that started rolling out in September.
Google used to update its dashboard monthly. The last regular update was in October 2018. Google blamed a technical glitch for the gap between then and May 2019. The company told us at the time that it had resolved the issue and promised to keep the dashboard updated again. The updates would be closer to quarterly than monthly, the company said.
After a few months it became clear that Google had broken that promise. We reached out to Google multiple times since May. The company declined to offer any new numbers and did not respond to requests for comment.
Here are the “latest” numbers from May 2019:
- Android 9.0 Pie (August 2018): 10.4%
- Android 8.0/8.1 Oreo (August 2017, December 2017): Up 6.8 points to 28.3%
- Android 7.0/7.1 Nougat (August 2016, October 2016): Down 9.9 points 19.2%
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow (October 2015): Down 4.4 points to 16.9%
- Android 5.0/5.1 Lollipop (November 2014, March 2015): Down 3.4 points to 14.5%
- Android 4.4 KitKat (October 2013): Down 0.7 points to 6.9%
- Android 4.1/4.2/4.3 Jelly Bean (July 2012, November 2012, and July 2013): Down 1.8 points to 3.0%
- Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (December 2011): Flat at 0.3%
- Android 2.3 Gingerbread (December 2010): Up 0.1 points to 0.3%
This data is useless. Do Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich still have the minimum 0.1% to show up on the dashboard? What is Android 10’s adoption share? Which versions should developers target? How many users have devices that support a certain feature? When in 2020 will Google issue an update? Nobody knows.
Instead of regular dashboard updates, it looks like Google only wants to share tidbits of good news. We likely won’t see the latest numbers until Google has something positive to say about Android 10 adoption.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.
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