For the first time, Android 4 is running on more mobile devices than any other version of Google’s mobile operating system. It’s taken more than a year, but hardware makers are finally abandoning Android 2.3, nicknamed Gingerbread. Still, the majority of people out there own a device running an outdated take on Android, and are missing the benefits of Google’s latest, greatest mobile OS.
Android 4 (which is really three distinctive releases in Android 4.0, 4.1 and 4.2), is running on 45.1 percent of active Android devices, according to data Google shared on its developer website Wednesday. Gingerbread is running on 44.2 percent of all Android phones and tablets out there. The remaining 10.7 percent of gadgets are running something even older than Gingerbread. Oy.
Android 4.0, better known as Ice Cream Sandwich, was the first version of Android we genuinely loved using. It was the point at which Android finally grew up and became an OS that could truly compete with Apple’s iOS. It offered a level of polish, design and soul that had been absent in Google’s OS up to that point. Android 4.1 and 4.2, aka Jelly Bean, refined the software, making it faster and even easier to use. And, of course Jelly Bean introduced Google Voice Search, which is everything Siri wishes she were, and more.
Although Google’s older OS flavors are quickly becoming a thing of the past — in October, Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich were running on just 25.5 percent of Android devices — today’s data dump speaks as clearly as anything to the fragmentation that persists in Android. Still, more devices running Android 4.0 or newer makes it easier for developers to build quality apps. And better apps, along with a better OS as Android 4.0 or newer is, means a better product for consumers.
So where does Android go from here? Kevin Tofel over at GigaOm, wrote Wednesday that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Android 4 taking a 50 percent share of the ecosystem within as little as a month. Ice Cream Sandwich and (hopefully more so) Jelly Bean will continue to grow as more new Android phones and tablets arrive this year — and there will be dozens of those popping up. And Google will likely have some sort of Android update to show off this summer at its Google I/O developer conference — Key Lime Pie perhaps?