Just over 2% of Android devices in the wild are running the latest OS, compared to 80% running the latest version of iOS. Google’s ambitious plan to put an open source OS on as many devices as possible, is still in progress.
Google has taken a mighty step in helping to speed up the process of OS modification from manufacturers
The issue arises when the manufacturer decides to differentiate their products from competitors on a software-level by modifying each Android release from Google; which consumes a lot of time and effort. After this process, the software update has to be gone through carrier testing, will slow the process even further.
In order to help dilute the problem of developers’ applications not having access to new APIs on the many devices running older versions of Android, Google unbundled many of them from the OS itself and start delivering them in ‘Play Services’ updates deployed through Android’s built-in app store.
Google latest changes which cannot be deployed via this method and require an OS update, and that has remained a problem for Google as it unveils innovative new features in annual releases which most consumers will not have access to for months (or ever in some circumstances!)
In a rapid moving industry, Google knows it needs to speed-up Android releases.In the Android N, currently in early developer preview, it appears Google has taken a big step forward in helping to speed-up OS modifications from manufacturers.
Due to being an early preview and subsequent to change, we can only speculate on Google’s plans based on the changes made so far. Looking at the file system, we’re seeing more things placed into the vendor and OEM partitions — which should make it easier for these parties to customize and deploy a new OS update much faster.
By keeping the OS separate from the parts of the system for customization, Google could allow manufacturers like Samsung to implement their UX vision without interfering with the core system processes and libraries. Updates for the OS, including security updates for exploitable system components like the infamous Stagefright library, could be pushed out separate to updates for the many aspects of the OS which Google allows manufacturers to customize.
Google appears to be completing Android’s transition from an OS to a framework. Splitting the OS and its customization makes a lot of sense for Android, and should free-up a lot of manpower to ensure updates get out the gate quicker.