Android KitKat is now on a quarter of active devices

Dear Apple fans, please refrain from comments about the amount of devices your latest OS is running on. I'm joking, go ahead. Even as an Android fan I have to admit that the small percentage of those running Google's latest wonder is frustrating; but it's growing.

The latest iteration of Android, KitKat, has now reached a quarter of active devices according to Google's latest platform version marketshare numbers. This is impressive considering the sheer amount and variety of devices which ship with Android each year.

But unfortunately, it only tends to be the flagship devices which reliably get updated each year whilst the mid-range and low-end can be defunct by the time they reach your hands.

It is all a matter of perspective, however. To help solve the fragmentation problem, Google now ships most of its key APIs through the Play Store automatically in something called Play Services. This means app that developers can create applications for devices which aren't necessarily running the latest version of Android, in fact, this clever solution can be an advantage over Apple's iOS where it's either update (if you still can) or be left behind.

Unbelievably, this means some very early versions of Android are still active...

  • Froyo: 0.7-percent.
  • Gingerbread: 11.4-percent.
  • Ice Cream Sandwich: 9.6-percent.
  • Jelly Bean: 53.8-percent.
  • KitKat: 24.5-percent.

Let’s take a moment to have a virtual fist bump to those retro souls still rocking Froyo!

Android L (or 5.0) marks a big change to the OS itself and something which Play Services can't necessarily rectify. With it, Google is switching Android's design to "Material Design" whereby flat elements are cleverly placed over others as if a sheet of paper; complete with shadows and depth.

Your apps won't need the latest version to run on older devices; but they will look jarring if designed with Material Design in mind when coming from the rest of the OS. On the other hand, if your app isn't designed with Material Design in mind, then it will be just as out-of-place on devices which aren't running Google's latest and greatest.

Unfortunately, those who are will be in the single digits for quite some time.

What do you think about Android's version fragmentation? Let us know in the comments.

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