Google has released the November Platform Versions data, which shows that Android’s newest version — Android 7.0 / Nougat – has reached just 0.3% of reporting Android devices. This doesn’t sound like a lot, and it isn’t, but there aren’t too many handsets in the wild that can actually run this update just yet. Google released Android 7.0 to Nexus devices in August, and the Pixels only went on sale a couple of weeks ago.
From what we’ve seen in past years, it could take a year or so until Nougat reaches majority adoption, because that’s the pattern that has developed over the last few years. Here’s some of the changes since October, just to give you a picture on movements:
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow now at 24%, up 5.3%.
- Android 5.0/5.1 down to 34.1%
- Android 4.4 KitKat down to 25.2%
- Android 4.1-4.3 down to 13.7%
- Android 4.0 and earlier all down slightly, reaching 1.3% at most
This shows the same picture we’ve seen for some time now; besides the top-tier smartphones, many Android devices don’t see an update beyond the major release they come with. That is, most phones that launched with KitKat stayed there, as will most devices that launched with Lollipop stay there, and so forth.
We don’t have concrete figures, but if you say at least half of Android devices won’t receive software updates, then it’s really only the replacement timeframe that will dictate when percentages start to fall. As most of the Android 5.0 Lollipop phones are starting to reach two years post-launch, we’re going to start seeing that 34.1% figure fall over the next twelve months probably to around the 20-25% mark. Equally, Android 6.0 Marshmallow will likely continue to climb a little, probably to 30% or more, before starting to fade out.
Android’s software updates do follow a fairly predictable distribution these days, but what does this mean for you? Not much, really. The same old story really applies; if you want the latest updates, you need to either (a) buy a Pixel or a Nexus phone, or (b) buy a premium smartphone from one of the larger brands, e.g. Samsung, LG or HTC and wait for them to release an update.
Other manufacturers do release major version updates, to be sure, but not quite so frequently.