Unlike iOS handsets, Android smartphones are produced by a variety of manufacturers, each of which attempts to implement their own optimised and unique version of Google’s operating system.
This can result in interesting anomalies, such as the significant difference between Huawei’s EMUI Android skin and the custom Android OS on Samsung devices.
Having multiple Android skins in circulation along with a large range of hardware to maintain compatibility with means that the rollout of Android updates can sometimes be very slow.
This is especially true when compared to the rollout of iOS updates, which are taken up quickly and support far older devices compared to Android.
To determine how quickly Android users were receiving updates for their devices, we compared the mobile operating statistics from NetMarketShare for November 2018.
Android 8 vs Android 9
The data showed that while 67.71% of all smartphone users had an Android device, less than half of them were using Android 8.0 or Android 8.1.
As for the latest version of the operating system – Android 9.0 – its adoption has been so slow it did not even appear in the top 10 rankings.
According to the data, 15.35% of all smartphone users are using Android 8.0 while 13.31% are using Android 8.1.
Android 8.0 was released in August 2017, and has still not rolled out to many high-end smartphones from major manufacturers.
As adoption of this operating system grew slowly, Google released its Android 9.0 software on 6 August 2018.
It is indicative of the slow uptake of Android updates that most major Android manufacturers have not yet updated their flagship devices to Android 9.0, with even the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 running Android 8.1 despite being launched after Android 9.0.
If the pace of updates continue at this rate, older versions of Android will remain the most popular operating systems for a long period of times as manufacturers struggle to deliver major updates to their devices.
The exception to this rule are devices which form part of Google’s Android One programme.
Android One smartphones – such as the Nokia 7.1 or Motorola One – receive operating system updates quickly after they are released by Google, and come with the guarantee of monthly security updates for at least 3 years after initial release.
This rate of adoption stands in stark contrast with the accessibility and rapid rollout of updates for iPhones and iPads.
Following the launch of Android 9.0 in August, Apple launched its iOS 12 operating system on 17 September 2018.
The operating system immediately became available for download on Apple devices as old as the iPhone 5s, and delivered a number of enhancements including improved performance and responsiveness.
Barely three months after the launch of the OS, it was easily the most popular operating system across Apple devices and was the third-most popular mobile OS version in the world.
Whereas the Android community is splintered across five different versions of the software, most iPhone users are now using iOS 12, with a quickly-decreasing amount using iOS 11.