Many Android users will fight tooth and nail to uphold the notion that the Android OS provides significant advantages over iOS devices. But, from an objective standpoint, it’s pretty clear: Android OS has serious issues, and they all stem from its persistent—and seemingly unsolvable—fragmentation problems.
What is Fragmentation?
Android device fragmentation happens when many different versions of the same OS are used at the same time. Android has this issue simply because OS updates don’t apply to all devices. Instead, these update are only available for specific devices instead of the entire network. Many will argue that this is what had made iOS the superior operating system, since all devices receive the exact same updates when they roll out.
Fragmentation has been the number one reason customer satisfaction is higher with iOS than with Android OS. In many cases, Google turns over the updates of older versions of the OS to the phone manufacturers, such as LG, Motorola or Samsung.
What Causes the Android Fragmentation Issue?
Since Android is used by many different manufacturers, they often install their own proprietary software or skin over the OS, causing the device manufacturer to port every update into the system they are using themselves.
Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t have multiple manufacturers using iOS, which makes updates significantly easier. Their streamlined, in-house use of iOs has allowed them to avoid fragmentation.
Problems Caused by Android Fragmentation
The Android OS fragmentation issue has caused many problems including:
- Many obsolete, low-end devices using old versions of Android OS
- Apps requiring multiple designs
- Potential security risks
- Nightmarish Android device support
With such a small percentage of Android devices using the most up-to-date version of the OS and many different versions used at one time, it causes many other problems. Since Apple rolls out updates to all up-to-date devices, they don’t suffer from the same issues caused by fragmentation.
More than 70% of Apple users have iOS 8 on their device. However, less than 10% of Android users have the latest version of the Android OS. This has been an issue ever since the start of Android and will continue to be an issue.
With Apple, you know you will gain access to new updates for at least a few years before you have to upgrade to a new phone. However, with Android, this may only last a few months before your device is running an outdated version of Android OS.
Can Android OS Fragmentation Be Solved?
Google has done many things to help solve the issue of fragmentation. The Google Now launcher was added in the KitKat version of the Android OS and the introduction of Lollipop has alleviated some of these problems caused by fragmentation. However, nothing they have done has completely solved the issue. They are using apps and custom launchers to help make it possible to get the same experience on any Android device, but not all devices are getting the updates they need.
Even with the launch of amazing, new Android devices such as the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge and the HTC One M9, these issues may still keep buyers away. Meanwhile, Google continues to work to fix the issue of fragmentation, which will be an ongoing process with no end in sight. Unfortunately, since Android uses “open-source” software, fragmentation just might be an issue its users will always have to endure.
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