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Android Rules Smartphones, But Which Version? 298

Posted by Soulskill
from the whichever-one-doesn't-give-me-diabetes dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google Android's dominance of the smartphone space has been reinforced by a new IDC study that places its market-share at 68.3 percent, well ahead of iOS at 18.8 percent. But which version of Android is most preferred by users? A new set of graphs on the Android Developers Website offers the answer to that question: 'Gingerbread,' or Android versions 2.3 through 2.3.7, dominates with 50.8 percent of the Android pie. 'Ice Cream Sandwich,' or versions 4.0.3 through 4.0.4, is second with 27.5 percent, with the latest 'Jelly Bean' build at 6.7 percent. As demonstrated by that graph on the Android Developers Website, there are a lot of devices running a lot of different versions of Android out there in the ecosystem, all with different capabilities. In turn, that could make it difficult for Google to deliver 'the latest and greatest' to any customer that wants it, and potentially irritates those customers who buy a smartphone (particularly a high-end one) expecting regular upgrades." Here's how Slashdot readers using Android break down: 31.0% Jelly Bean, 31.5% Ice Cream Sandwich, 0.7% Honeycomb, 22.8% Gingerbread, 4.3% Froyo, 1.1% Eclair, 0.05% Donut, 0.02% Cupcake, 8.5% unknown. Looks like you folks are ahead of the curve. iOS breaks down like this: 67% iOS 6, 28.6% iOS 5, 3.2% iOS 4, 0.5% iOS 3, 0.7% unknown. (These numbers include more than just phones, of course.) Overall, our iOS traffic (8.74%) is higher than our Android traffic (6.75%). Windows Phone and BlackBerry both clock in at about 0.2%.
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Android Rules Smartphones, But Which Version?

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  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @05:43PM (#42184895) Homepage Journal
    It's well documented that iOS users tend to use their phones a lot more than Android users. Same thing in tablet space.
  • Re:Preference (Score:5, Informative)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @06:34PM (#42185605)

    It is impossible to do what we have been doing with PCs.

    To be more correct, the PC is really just ONE platform, while ARM SoCs form many.

    E.g., in a PC, the memory will ALWAYS be in the same location, the BIOS will ALWAYS be in the same location as well. Once you have those two basics out of the way, it's trivial to figure out where stuff like video adapters are (which happen to be in the same spot for a basic console, as well). PCI enumeration and assignment (which relies on the PCI bridge being in the same spot, as well as stuff like keyboard controllers and all that having the same I/O map).

    When stuff's in the same location, it's easy.

    With ARM, that's like everyone agreeing to use say, Samsung SoC's for the next 30 years and making sure Samsung's SoCs remain backwards compatible w.r.t. memory maps.

    After all, you can still boot DOS on a modern PC these days, If the memory map changed, or even if the memory is not in the same spot as it was before, that won't work as the link addresses are all wrong.

    Linux uses device trees for ARM, which is a hack to try to get the same thing on ARM SoCs, but the problem there is things like DMA controllers aren't the same, memory controllers vary, etc. And of course, where one chip can have memory starting at 0x80000000, others can have it at 0x40000000, or 0xC0000000...

  • by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529@yahooEULER.com minus math_god> on Tuesday December 04, 2012 @06:36PM (#42185621)

    People on tech forums always complain about how fragmented Android is. "ZoMg iM sTuCk On TiArAmAsU!!!!!111 WhEn WiLl i GeT wHiTe ChOcOlAtE MoChA??? WAAAAHHHHHhhh!!!!!1111 $MY_CARRIER iS tEh SuXoRz!!!"

    In my experience, it's more version number bragging contests than anything else. The only apps that don't run on every version of Android I've used since 2.2 (now a three year old release that counts for less than 3% of devices combined with all of those below it) are LBE Privacy Guard (doesn't run on Jelly Bean but runs on anything else; XDA-Devs has a translation of the Chinese variant that works fine), 4EXT Recovery (which is more hardware specific than OS specific since it's actually a recovery environment), and a few power widgets since ICS and up don't allow widgets to directly toggle GPS and the baseband. Everything else, from Amazon daily free apps (usually games) to Netflix, to media players, to Root Explorer...it all works flawlessly on every Android device I've owned.
    Yes, Jellybean gives us Google Now and pseudo-Swype. Yes, ICS gave us a somewhat different UI (I prefer the vertically scrolling app drawer myself...and yes I know about the third party launcher apps; that's not the point) and MTP instead of USB Mass Storage (another change I somewhat-understand but can't stand). If your hardware supports NFC, ICS can also utilize that, although its utility is still in the "because I can" / "the iPhone doesn't have it" stage. Beyond those changes, I have to Wikipedia the rest.

    Really, the bigger differences tend to follow the OEMs. I personally really like HTC Sense, though I know plenty of people (especially here) disagree with me. Touchwiz doesn't completely suck like Motoblur does, and the bone-stock nexus/cyanogen UI seems a bit too minimalist for me. For end users, the differences in those skins is going to be a bigger change than between different android versions, especially since, once again, they all run the same apps.

    Everyone complains about how fragmented Android is, but literally every OS that's ever had more than one version will have that. Windows? XP/Vista/7/8, to say nothing about the asymptotic number of 2000/9x users clinging to their 15 year old desktops that still work perfectly and refuse to die. No one complains that Windows is fragmented. OSX? Tiger/Leopard/Snow Leopard/Lion/Mountain Lion all exist, all happily running Final Cut Pro, Logic, Photoshop, and iLife. Linux? There's an extensive SVG-formatted family tree of flavors over on Wiki, all doing something. iOS? Perhaps the closest to a unified platform, but there are still plenty of 3GS devices and older-gen iPod Touch units running iOS 5.x (including every first-gen iPad), 4.x, and likely still a handful on 3.x.

    No matter what you compare Android to, you'll be comparing it to something with plenty of fragmentation of its own. Fragmentation has never stopped a computing platform from adoption, and just because there is a version of $WHATEVER_OS newer than yours doesn't instantly prevent all the existing applications from running unless the OS maker royally messes with stuff or involves a completely different flavor of hardware or something equally drastic. So why is it that Androidland always has their knickers in a twist over the fact that their hardware isn't running THE LATEST version? If it was really that big of a deal, most phones have fairly simple rooting instructions over at xda-devs or sdx-devs.

    Mobile OS updates were RARE before the iPhone; I remember my HTC Dash getting exactly one (official) update. Desktop Windows never gave free updates, and neither did OSX - that was always something the Linux community prided itself on, but the Linux community isn't attempting to perpetuate a business model.

    I'll conclude with posing the question again: Why does Android get the 'fragmented' label as a derogatory stigma and a 'problem' in need of 'solving', when literally every operating system ever can also wear that badge just as well and no one cares?

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