One of the biggest problems with choosing an Android phone over another platform is the operating system’s fragmentation.
Need proof this is happening?
The company behind OpenSignalMaps, an app that Android users can install to crowdsource the locations of cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots, did a study of all the Android phones that use the app. (Almost 700,000)
OpenSignalMaps came up with this nifty chart that shows there are different 3,997 devices running its Android app:
Each rectangle represents a unique Android device. The big green rectangle in the upper left corner represents Samsung’s Galaxy S II, which is by far the most popular Android phone in the study.
OpenSignalMaps also took a look at the version of Android each device was running:
As you can see, more than half of all Android phones are still running version 2.3 Gingerbread. Gingerbread is about 18 months old. The newest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, barely registers on the pie chart.
So what does this all mean?
Since Android is free and open for any hardware manufacturer to use, there are thousands and thousands of different devices running the operating system.
That’s really good if you want more choice in your hardware.
But it’s really bad if you want timely software updates or a guarantee the latest and greatest apps will work on your device.
On the other hand, iOS only runs on one phone, the iPhone, and the latest version still supports the three-year-old iPhone 3GS. Microsoft holds Windows Phone manufacturers to strict requirements. That helps guarantee updates go through to all devices in a timely fashion.