Six months ago today, Google unveiled Android version 8.0 under the name ‘Oreo’. That day, the company also released the OS’ source code and the versions of the phones of the moment (Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel, Pixel XL and Nexus Player). However, the deployment of this version would take a couple of months before it began showing up in the Android distribution reports.
Therefore, today is a good day to see the status of this version’s deployment six months after it was launched, just like we did last year. The upside is that, since 2009, Google provides a monthly overview (with some exceptions) of Android version distribution numbers of the phones and tablets that connect to Google services.
Certainly, a lot has changed since 2009 if we take a look at the numbers. Given the amount of phones on the market, releases take longer. The main reason behind the launch of new Android versions is that phones are constantly improved.
Android versions distribution
You can see the distribution chart below for every Android version since the data was first recorded, according to Google. There are barely any Chinese Android phones regarding this data, as they have their own local services and app store that are not under Google’s control. In 2013, there was a change in the methodology because Google started taking into account the phones that connected to Google Play Services (the company used to consider the phones that checked in). So in 2013, every phone before Froyo disappeared because they lack Google Play Services, although the amount of said phones were few by then (1.3%). Some months have no available data, such as October 2014, July 2015 and October 2016, which means that we have used the data of the previous month.
As we can see, Froyo, Gingerbread and Jellybean are the versions that reached the highest point of the chart in history. Even nowadays, there are 0.3% of users on Gingerbread and 5% on Jellybean.
The truth is that from Jellybean onward, every Android version release has been less massive; the peak does not even reach 40%, whereas Jellybean went a little over 60%. There is something behind this: Jellybean had three versions (three API levels) when there are usually one or two (even in Oreo has two that were launched virtually at the same time).
We can see in the chart that Android Nougat is finally Android’s most widely used version. A year and a half after being launched, it has been adopted by 28.50% of users, topping Marshmallow’s 28.1%. The funny thing about all this is that the adoption peak of that Android version comes six months after a new version was released (adopted by only 1.1% of users).
It is also very interesting to see the distribution speed of Android versions. In the previous chart, we can see every Android version’s data from when it was launched (or rather, from the moment there was data about them). Honeycomb is not there due to its low adoption (it was only launched for tablets “temporarily” while the code for phones and tablets was merged).
We can see that every Android release takes longer. What seemed impossible is now real because every Android user has been complaining for years about this issue. Will this change with Project Treble? We will see that with the next Android version.
Although every release is taking longer lately, we can also see on the chart that this was not always the case. Lollipop’s release was relatively fast in comparison to previous versions like KitKat and Jellybean. However, the last two Android versions have been incredibly slow.
A little detail about the last four Android versions
If we analyze the last four Android versions carefully, we can see how the releases are taking longer. Lollipop was really fast, as we just said, but Marshmallow came next, and it was slower.
Right after that, Nougat was launched. Although it followed Marshmallow’s pace at first (just like we claimed last year, six months after its launch), Nougat turned out to be slower in the end.
The worst is yet to come: Oreo is taking longer than Nougat during its release. This is a total disaster, which is the result of a problem that we hope will be solved with Project Treble after so many years.