Android Marshmallow has made it into the Android platform versions report from Google for the first time, just a little less than a month after its public release. The new report can be found on the Android developer website and while the number for Marshmallow is low, .3%, it is expected to jump up pretty fast given the number of device manufactures who have started rolling out their updates or have committed to do so in short order.
For those who aren’t familiar with this report, Google published monthly a report that indicates which versions of Android are being used on devices that access the Google Play Store over the previous seven days. This month’s report ended on November 2nd, well within the 30 day window since the release of Android Marshmallow to the public (October 5, 2015). While it is aimed to help developers know what versions they need to continue to develop for in their apps, it is a good indicator to everyone of how a particular build of Android is doing – or not doing. The report often serves as a prime resource for those who are concerned about Android fragmentation but that isn’t really the intent of it nor does that completely show itself in this report.
The report shows that while Android Marshmallow has .3% of the install base, Android Lollipop and Android KitKat remain the dominant builds. KitKat has 37.8% of the install base while
Lollipop has 25.6%. That means combined, the last three builds of Android have 63.7% of the install base of devices accessing the Google Play Store. In comparison, the latest version of iOS on Apple devices, iOS 9, has 66% of the install base. It is a bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison though given how the updates to the latest version of Android and iOS are handled.
It is that comparison however along with the ever demanding need for security updates that has spurred OEMs to get updates to Android Marshmallow out to their devices and to do so quickly. Lollipop never eclipsed its predecessor primarily because of a poor adoption rate by manufactures on the plethora of devices in the market. Stage Fright and other security challenges have helped drive the faster building and releasing of updates with both Google on their Nexus devices and HTC committing to have updates out monthly or within 15 days of an update from Google respectively. This is a far cry from how update to Lollipop were dealt with by OEMs and other device manufactures like LG and Sony are already rolling out Marshmallow updates, in some cases completely skipping Lollipop.
All of this is good news frankly as it means that more devices will see Marshmallow more quickly than they ever got Lollipop updates – if ever. Equally, it doesn’t mean that the upgrade problem for Android is solved. It is still broken and needs serious improvements but the steps in the right direction are happening. I think that minuscule .3% for Android Marshmallow in less than a month bares that out.
For me, I think the really interesting report on Android versions will be the December report which should be out about this time next month. By that point we should see Marshmallow out on many devices from HTC, LG, Sony, Motorola and maybe even Samsung. That, I think, will give us a much truer picture of the adoption rate.