Android users not upgrading their OS to the latest version

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Unlike the rapidly deployed updates Apple posts for the iPhone OS through iTunes, Android users are unlikely (and often unable) to apply the latest updates to their phones, according to new information published by Google and its AdMob subsidiary.



As is the case with most other alternative smartphone platforms, Android users appear to often remain stuck with the firmware version their phone shipped with originally. This is primarily due to fragmentation problems that require the hardware maker, software platform vendor, and the mobile provider to work together to create and deliver custom updates for each model.



According to Android OS ad traffic figures published by AdMob, there was an initial migration from Android 1.5 "Cupcake" to 1.6 "Donut" last fall, followed by another shift to Android 2.x "Eclair" during the holiday season. But rather than being the result of user's software upgrade cycles, it appears that the shifts were largely the result of new hardware being sold with the new version already installed on it.



"In November 2009, Android 2.0 (Eclair) gained momentum with the launch of the Motorola Droid," AdMob reports, adding that "The Motorola Droid continues to generate the vast majority of requests of Android 2.0/2.1."



In March, AdMob pointed out that the ad traffic it was monitoring remained "divided relatively evenly between the three primary versions of the OS: Android 1.5 (38%), Android 2.0 / 2.1 (35%) and Android 1.6 (26%)."



The reason for that is that users of earlier models in many cases simply can't upgrade because there's no easy to install update for their phone. Many Android phone models do not get the latest operating system updates for months after the official update is completed, due to delays by the provider or hardware maker, either of which may want or need to address layers of customization they've made to the generic Android distribution.







Two weeks ago, Google published its own stats based on Android users visiting the Android Market software store, which reflected active users who download apps, and presumably would be more likely to be up to date.



Its figures indicate that only 27.3% of Android Market visitors are running the latest version of the Android OS, while nearly 70% are still using Android 1.1, 1.5 or 1.6. That prevents those users from being able to download the latest apps, including Twitter's new client for Android, which requires the 2.1 firmware version.







Apple manages OS updates and security patches for iPhone OS users as easy to install firmware updates that are available immediately through iTunes. The company has also historically alerted users of significant new updates via a text message. Apple has also pushed its third party developers to rapidly update their apps to ensure compatibility with major new releases, as it did last year with iPhone 3.0.



Apple's interest in broadly rolling out software updates to iPhone OS clients is largely to help developers target a single, unified installed base of users. This also encourages developers to make full use of the latest operating system features. The delivery of regular updates also head off issues related to bugs or security flaws.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 141
    smiles77smiles77 Posts: 668member
    Wow. Huge difference from Apple. Must suck to have Android and be unable to upgrade to the latest OS when your phone may be brand new.
  • Reply 2 of 141
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,342member
    This is the down side of Android. Too many phone to support. Once again, the service providers have to do the legwork to provide an update. They don't want to. They only want to support new phones.



    Apple has it right. Periodic, consistent updates, dropping support for models that haven't shipped in 2+ years (that way, few people are stuck in a contract with a phone they can't update).



    Go Apple. Suck it, Android. You might do some things better, but on updates, you suck.
  • Reply 3 of 141
    tommcintommcin Posts: 108member
    Is this not similar to what happens with the multitude of hardware driver fixes required so Windows can run on the PCs?
  • Reply 4 of 141
    steve_artssteve_arts Posts: 25member
    iDroid Dont update
  • Reply 5 of 141
    801801 Posts: 271member
    This is going to hurt in the long and short run and does not bode well for the platform. Plus, Google failed to get a new phone to market a week or so ago, right?
  • Reply 6 of 141
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    Clearly Android's strength is in serving a diverse user community. Android is also the #1 platform for developers who appreciate multitasking--coding and debugging for many platform configurations simultaneously.

    /sarcasm
  • Reply 7 of 141
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post


    This is the down side of Android. Too many phone to support. Once again, the service providers have to do the legwork to provide an update. They don't want to. They only want to support new phones.



    Apple has it right. Periodic, consistent updates, dropping support for models that haven't shipped in 2+ years (that way, few people are stuck in a contract with a phone they can't update).



    Go Apple. Suck it, Android. You might do some things better, but on updates, you suck.



    It's not the service providers that need to do the legwork, it's the phone manufacturers. They need to update the base Android source with the specifics for each device, as well as update the source with customizations to the UI they may have added to 'differentiate' their device from other Android-based devices. And doing all this work for free [as they have already received all the money for the phone they will ever get] AT BEST just makes the end-user more likely to buy another phone by that manufacturer down the road [except now, it's further down the road, as the user has new features on their existing phone]. The only reason for the user to upgrade to a newer phone is for some significant hardware upgrade, which is MUCH more expensive for the manufacturer to create.



    If, on the other hand, the manufacturer follows the existing, longstanding pattern of NOT providing updates to phones that have already been sold, they have WAY more upside. A user is MUCH more likely to upgrade to a newer cell phone, sooner, when they know their current phone WON'T get an update, and the newer phone will only need to have changed hardware to compete with other phones in the market and not with the existing phone the user has, because they ALSO get the newer version of Android with it.



    The carriers also aren't interested in making updates to existing phones available, because it means more tech support [how do I upgrade this phone], qualifying the new version of the OS, making the version customized for their carrier. Except this also doesn't financially benefit them, as then the customer doesn't upgrade to a new phone as quickly, signing a new contract extension [particularly in the US], and they don't get their cut of selling a new phone, and they get no direct financial benefit from the update either.



    And both manufacturers and carriers would need to do this for all the different Android phones, greatly increasing the amount of work they need to do, essentially for free.
  • Reply 8 of 141
    noirdesirnoirdesir Posts: 1,027member
    Stupid question: Are there security updates (for example in the form of 1.5.1, 1.6.1 etc.)?



    I know, security updates for the iPhone (all updates containing security fixes, not just pure security updates) are noticeably less frequent for the iPhone OS than for Mac OS (certainly justified by a completely different permission system, aka, sandboxing).



    There were eight updates for 1.x, five for 2.x and four for 3.x, within three years there where thus 20 updates (including the x.0 updates), thus roughly 1.8 months between updates. Or 1.3 months during the first year and 2.2 months for the second and third year. This a very rough measure as the updates weren't exactly evenly spread.

    For Android that is five updates over about 20 months (assuming a June release of 2.2), or 4 months between updates (except naturally that a lot of Android users could get only few if any of these updates).
  • Reply 9 of 141
    williamgwilliamg Posts: 322member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post




    Must suck to have Android and be unable to upgrade to the latest OS when your phone may be brand new.






    I agree. It's a huge problem that they still sell phones with old versions of the OS.



    So long as people know that they may or may not ever be able to upgrade, it's fine. Otherwise, I hope they figure out the problem in the first 30 days so they can return the phone.



    This is like the old days of home computers, when you needed to check the System Requirements to see if you would be able to run a new OS or to install the cool new software. Except that everything is changing much faster now.
  • Reply 10 of 141
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Foo2 View Post


    Android's strength is in serving a diverse user community. Android is also the #1 platform for developers who appreciate multitasking.



    Right - I guess you speak for all developers who "love" multitasking. Sure you do.
  • Reply 11 of 141
    williamgwilliamg Posts: 322member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post


    This is the down side of Android. Too many phone to support. Once again, the service providers have to do the legwork to provide an update. They don't want to. They only want to support new phones.






    Wouldn't the device manufacturers do the updates? So that their product stays competitive? Or decide not to, on older devices, so that they could sell them more cheaply?



    It seems that like the older iPhones, people are holding on to their legacy Android devices. I wonder how many current sales are devices with a legacy OS. Few, I hope.
  • Reply 12 of 141
    ekeefe41ekeefe41 Posts: 36member
    I don't think there has been a single phone that was sold with 1.5 or 1.6 that has been updated yet...



    The Moto Droid on the other hand was sold with 2.0, and has already been updated to 2.1

    (so the person above with the "DROID IDon't update" comment, you are flat out wrong)



    The Samsung Moment and HTC hero are scheduled to get there update very soon, Moment is due to get 2.1 in the next 48 hr's or so, and hero with in the next week. As reported by the "Android and me" web site.



    The G1 may not get 2.1 due to hardware requirements, then again i am running 2.1 on my G1 thanks to Cyanogen.



    The Moto Cliq is going to get an update per an announcement by Moto.



    Will there be some phones left behind because one of the 3 partners decides not to update? Probably, but that is a business decision.



    Apple controls every aspect of the iPhone, even down to the applications you can install. This control does allow for a smother update process, but limits the amount of personal freedom you have on our device. Android on the other hand needs to have the hardware manufacture and the provider work together to bring you an update, so updates are more cumbersome and take longer. There is an advantage to this... Customizable UI's, personal freedom to install anything you like, and variety between different Android devices.



    I am an Android guy and like my freedom of choice.

    Apple will always make a great innovative product, but the amount of control they wield over the device is almost scary.



    Anyway, i am sure i will get flamed here considering this is an Apple fan site, but i think Android will become the defacto OS for smart-phones in the next few years.
  • Reply 13 of 141
    hassanprhassanpr Posts: 9member
    this is the reason i left moto for htc winmo then to apple. I go with what makes life easy. I had a 1st gen iphone for 3 years and was able to upgrade with no prob. I had winmo for a year and coudnt upgrade for 3 different versions and for moto i coudnt upgrade once. they all wanted me to purchase a new phone. I like apple and micro. To tell you the truth i like all platforms BUT IN THE END I CHOOSE APPLE FOR ITS EASE OF USE. People need to stop that mac pc crap and choose what doesnt make them upgrade for a point upgrade. Thats crazy. you should at least get a few years out of a device before being forced to upgrade to a new device at the price these toys cost.
  • Reply 14 of 141
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by superman9740 View Post


    Right - I guess you speak for all developers who "love" multitasking. Sure you do.



    What's not to love about Android, if you enjoy coding for a gazillion platform configurations at one time?
  • Reply 15 of 141
    ruel24ruel24 Posts: 432member
    Isn't this kind of crap why Apple invented the iPhone in the first place? Phones were antiquated in a short amount of time, left supportless, and often were crappily made? Apple's fix was to come up with their own phone - one that had a longer support life and was well made. I think they succeeded. Apple's central control is something that works, and works well. Leave it to the OEM and the consumer to update, and not the carrier. Verizon is one of the worst in terms of control. They're the Comcast of wireless communication.
  • Reply 16 of 141
    aaadktdaaaadktda Posts: 5member
    "I am an Android guy and like my freedom of choice."



    Not meant to be a flame, just curious. What choices have you made on your Android that you could not have on an iPhone?
  • Reply 17 of 141
    quashquash Posts: 23member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ekeefe41 View Post


    .. Customizable UI's, personal freedom to install anything you like, and variety between different Android devices.



    You can do this on the iPhone as well, by jailbreaking....
  • Reply 18 of 141
    educateeducate Posts: 2member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aaadktda View Post


    "I am an Android guy and like my freedom of choice."



    Not meant to be a flame, just curious. What choices have you made on your Android that you could not have on an iPhone?



    Yeah, I'm curious about that as well. I'm stuck with crummy ol' 1.5. The list of 2.1 apps will continue to grow and I'll continue to wish... VZW promised an upgrade end of Q1 and it didn't happen and now it's too late to return this piece o crap and they want $375 to kill my contract... Completely bogus.



    Gotta love android.
  • Reply 19 of 141
    hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 753member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WilliamG View Post


    I wonder how many current sales are devices with a legacy OS. Few, I hope.



    I wish that were the case, but judging by the number of handsets with older OS's on them, I doubt it. I don't have any hard numbers, but let's count the phones running Android 1.5 here in the U.S.:



    HTC Hero, Samsung Moment, HTC Droid Eris, Motorola Cliq, Motorola Backflip, MyTouch 3G, Sony Experia X10



    To my knowledge, these are the only ones running 2.0/2.1:



    Motorola Droid, Nexus One, HTC Incredible



    That's quite a difference, especially considering the Nexus One isn't sold in any stores and basically is unknown outside of the tech community.
  • Reply 20 of 141
    btblombergbtblomberg Posts: 63member
    Wow. What a fundmental flaw to the whole model. There is all this complaining about apples control, but it looks like Android, under this model is out of control.



    One platform with unified update that covers all devices (regardless of model) vs. an update that needs to be filtered through and patched by each manufacturer and then each provider. The Android idea was nice, but the actual execution is not. Google opened this up to too much fragmentation that as the years go by it will get worse and worse.



    Oh, well. I have a 3GS so it's not an issue here. It will do what I bought it for, and more soon, until the 5th Generation version comes out.



    I have to say Apple may not give you the whole thing up front, but when they give it to you it is usually a better way of doing it than others can come up with.
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