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Why Google Android will always be fragmented

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Why Google Android will always be fragmented

It's not difficult to get het up and frustrated about Google Android’s fragmented nature.

The Big G’s platform always offers ace new software features (its latest Maps update is a case in point).

But millions of users are missing out because the latest versions of Android simply never make it to their devices.

It’s been an issue from day one, when Google allowed manufacturing partners to tweak the OS to their hearts’ content.

samsung galaxy note edge side

The result was that uniform, silky smooth updates, a la Apple iOS, were all but impossible.

Things have got better. HTC, Samsung, Sony and LG have rolled out new Android software to their flagship phones faster than ever in 2015.

But the fact remains that the current cutting-edge version of Android, Lollipop, is only installed on 9% of all Android phones and tablets.

2013’s Android KitKat is, unsurprisingly, still top dog on 39.8%.

android kitkat packet

But what seems crazy is that versions of the even older Android Jelly Bean are on a comparable 39.2%.

That would lead you to surmise that either people aren’t updating their phones or manufacturers aren’t interested in making older devices better.

The reality is that it’s a bit of both.

This issue rears its head every year now. Google comes up with a sticking plaster solutions such as its Android One project for developing markets or asking manufacturers to ensure devices up to 18-months old work with its newest Android iteration.

android fragmentation 2

But these fixes do not address the fact that it’s not in a manufacturers’ interest to make their old phones work with new code.

They make little enough money as it is, due to Google services providing the backbone of Android phones.

Why should they keep old kit kicking when they can make more cash from selling new smartphones?

It’s time to admit that a fragmented Android will exist until a wholly new OS comes along, whether that’s in a year or a decade.

Google will launch a [new edition later this year]( to supersede Lollipop. It’ll struggle to get onto its feet then do so when yet another version is revealed in 2016. Rinse, repeat.

google nexus 8 i/o

Perhaps this is no bad thing. Apple does things one way. Google does them another.

But at the heart of it is the fact that consumers are being let down by manufacturers looking to squeeze more money from them by selling new devices they probably don’t need.

It’s a tough balancing act between business principles and consumers' needs.

But the fact remains that if you really want the latest Android software, you need to buy it rather than wait for it to land as an update on your phone.

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