We’ve expressed our opinions on Android software multiple times here on iDB. You can imagine that, as an iPhone blog, we are a little biased towards the iOS platform, but our issues with Android don’t come unwarranted.

One of our beefs with Android is that its apps seem to lack the polish that iOS apps have — even in software that is available on both platforms. Why is that? Well, not only do developers have to worry about multiple screen sizes, they also have to worry about multiple versions of Android…

Sure, iOS has a lot of versions out in the wild. But studies have shown that above 90% of iDevice users are on iOS 4.0 or later. Android software, however, is a different story. And Michael DeGusta decided to investigate the phenomenon.

DeGusta took a look at 18 popular Android handsets and their support for the most recent versions of Android OS. The results show a platform that is devastatingly fragmented. Here are some of his findings from the research:

  • 10 of 18 were at least two major versions behind well within their two year contract period.
  • 11 of 18 stopped getting any support updates less than a year after release.
  • 13 of 18 stopped getting any support updates before they even stopped selling the device or very shortly thereafter.
  • 15 of 18 don’t run Gingerbread, which shipped in December of 2010
  • In a few weeks, when Ice Cream Sandwich comes out, every device on here will be another major version behind.
  • At least 16 of 18 will almost certainly never get Ice Cream Sandwich.

How do Android devices get left out of software updates? For starters, when Google releases a new version of Android, not all devices get it right away (as you can see above). The manufacturers and carriers have to get ahold of it first.

Manufacturers get the update and have to adjust their software accordingly (Samsung has it’s TouchWiz and HTC has its Sense flavor of the OS). Then it’s pushed on to carriers for beta testing. And since all of these companies move at their own pace, customers get screwed.

DeGusta also constructed an infographic of the above info, which you can view here.

  • Xepptizz

    Amen to that, my gf had a samsung and zero support, seriously nothing after purchase, had to use system files from two different sources and a non official program. Nearly bricked the crappy phone and now the phone doesn’t recognize wifi anymore.
    Samsung gives no love to costumers. Even the telephoneshops warn costumers for the awefull software support from samsung.

  • Jas God

    iOS >>> android, gingerbread, ice cream sandwich, candy canes, lemon drops.

    • David

      I don’t know if he’s joking or if android os is really that stupid

    • AvenGerMK

      It was cupcake ginger bread honey comb eclair ice cream sandwich. I’m all about ios. Just know an android fanatic.

  • Josh

    Lets we how many people complain that this article is biased and that it shouldn’t have been posted when it’s just stating facts ….

    • Dan

      But nowhere near the scale of Android, the 3GS (which is over 2 years old now) can run iOS5, it may have some limitations but at least Apple doesn’t just wipe its hands of their older stuff unlike “most” other phone manufacturers.

    • Joey

      You’re an idiot, each iPhone has been supported for 3 years so far. Most apps run on older iPhones. Developers are starting to boost the requirements for apps because everyone that owns anything under 4.2 is out of contract already. The orginal stopped at 3.3 or .4 I can’t remember but the 3G stopped at 4.2. While most androids weren’t on a current version of android also never saw that update.

    • Scaredy Shroom

      If you’re still on a 3G, it just means you’re fucking cheap and lazy. Get a new phone already.

  • Mac

    hi Cody if you guys start bringing news about
    android I will leave this site.thank you.

    • Joe

      Like u being on this site makes a difference come on who cares if u not on here. Beat it

      • S

        +1 to joe

      • Mac

        do I know you!!!!

      • Mac

        do I know you !!!!!

    • Scaredy Shroom

      Why don’t you just GTFO before u get KTFO

      • Mac

        you shut you ass and mouth up before
        I ll pie on you idiot !!!!!

      • Scaredy Shroom

        Lay off the crack dumbass! Go use android, you obviously lack the IQ to use a sophisticated product like the iPhone.

      • Mac

        Sorry dude since you like apple you
        are my body sorry for miscommunication !!!!!!! android is only
        copying iPhone .

      • goofygreek

        Um, iphone copies android. android copies iphone. same shit. android has its own way, ios has its own way. all depends on what you like. since ive been using my gs2, i have grown to like android very much. maybe because its different, maybe because it works better for me. all i know is that i was tired of ios after 4 years of using iphones, and an ipad2, that i needed something different. so android was the answer. besides, all you have to do to have an updated android device is to root it (jailbreak it) and then install a vanilla copy of the latest software when its ported for your device. Also, there are a group of developers that make a custom os for android called cyanogen mod, which is supported on over 70 different handsets. Not official support, but its still there.

  • David

    I agree with the whole fragmentation thing. I would have bought an iPhone if Sprint would have had it available last year, but now I have an HTC Evo that runs Gingerbread. I’m not even sure if HTC is gonna bring Ice Cream Sandwich to the Evo. Luckily I’m rooted, so I run custom rom’s on a pretty consistent basis, but still, it would be nice to have support from the manufacturer. My next phone as soon as I scrape up the money…..iPhone 4S

  • spelz

    Sorry to post this here, but the other day you mentioned a few apps available in the US store only (can’t find the post). As I recently set up a US account for the purpose, could you perhaps do a posting on US store only apps? Thanks and regards.

  • Of course, this whole thing is subjective. The android blogs have the same results attacking the weaknesses of iOS. It will always depend on which blog you read.

    • laziepig

      +1

  • DebTym

    WOW. Looks like that android needs help

  • JR

    TL;DR Version: There is none. Read this and actually come back with an informed response.

    Really? MORE fragmented? Okay. Ive used iOS and Android extensively, Ive used 1.6 Doughnut, 2.0/.1 Eclair, 2.2 FroYo, 2.3 Gingerbread, 3.0 Honeycomb, and guess what, 90% of the android market apps run on ALL of them! Both tablet and phone! Now compare that to the iOS App store. Most apps only now work on 4.0+ Thats it. Fragmentation isn’t as bad on iOS but its getting worse. FAST. And one other issue. I looked for “flashlight” on the Android market and got many different useful apps with a flashlight. Did the same on app store. Oh look! its all the SAME THING WITH SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT NAMES!
    Flashlight.
    Flashlight!
    Flashlight □
    Flashlight ✪
    Flashlight ..
    Flashlight!.
    !Flashlight!
    Do I need to go on. My point is, quantity does NOT equal quality. Yes the apps on iOS are generally higher quality and yes its more ‘fun’ to use them, HOWEVER, the lack of apps on the android market mean there is less duplicates of things like FLASHLIGHTS! How many flashlights and fart apps are on the app store, huh? Count them up, subtract that number from the App Store’s 500,000 and THEN tell me how many different apps there are! No really, I want to see the results!
    With that said, I do respect this blog because you guys help make the iPhone worth more than a brick. Without jailbreak, NOBODY would use iOS. NO apps work together, I feel like Ive taped a paper address book, paper calendar, and iPod together with my 4s. Im not under contract and returning this tomorrow for a 4 since that can be jailbroken.
    AND don’t come back with anything that EVEN resembles fanboy retorts. DO RESEARCH and if you find credible stuff that proves iOS is better, SHOW ME THE PROOF AND YOUR SOURCES! Really, please do. I wanna know which phone really is worth the 2 year contract.

    • PPDeluXe

      Only work on 4.0+? L2facts.

    • Mr. O

      “Yes the apps on iOS are generally higher quality and yes its more ‘fun’ to use them, HOWEVER, the lack of apps on the android market mean there is less duplicates of things like FLASHLIGHTS!”

      Thank u for the first statement. iOS are superbly of higher quality, no doubt. BUT.. flashlights??? Cmon man.. U must be a kiddo, coz u can’t even do a simple research…

      A quick search on Android market for ‘flashlight’…
      Result?

      Tiny Flashlight + LED
      Brightest Flashlight Free
      Color Flashlight HD
      TeslaLED Flashlight
      Flashlight zaphrox
      Xperia arc FlashLight
      Flashlight Professional. No Ad
      Droidlight LED Flashlight
      FlashLight
      Free Flashlight
      AND THE LIST GOES ON AND ONNNNNN….

      “Now compare that to the iOS App store. Most apps only now work on 4.0+ Thats it. ”

      Did u not read the article? NINETY PERCENT OF IDEVICE USERS ARE ON 4.0 or above!!

      Wtf is ur problem man. Grow up and argue Like an adult. Use some brains please

    • mohgui

      there are about 1,345 Fart apps on the Android Market… and i bet to the Android fanboys… these are only a handful eh?

      ooohh… as i reply, i think there will be another 10 new Fart apps being introduced in the Android Market =)

  • Vinny954

    @JR How about you suck my dick and stfu, fanboy. iOS anally raps Android with out lube. U mad bro?

    • funbags

      +1

  • Mac

    hey androids heads why don t you go to
    android blogs and leave us alone here!

    • anon

      Hey Mac, I am typing this on my Windows desktop, while talking on my iPhone hopping to later finish reading my book on my Android tablet.

      I hope your head explodes.

  • Boogiepop

    Why are Android fanboys so hostile? Does Google turn them into Manchurian candidates? Ready to defend Android when triggered. lol

  • You are all retards.

    Not open to competition.

    The reason phones and OS on mobile platform are getting better is because of the competition between iOS and Android.

    This is good for the end consumer whether its iOS or Android. Most of you americans are too dumb to understand.

    • funbags

      Everybody knows competition drives progress, especially Americans and the fact that you are assuming a bulk of the users visiting this blog are in fact American to begin with , only shows how ignorant you really are.

      Let the kids play.

  • anon

    “Well, not only do developers have to worry about multiple screen sizes, they also have to worry about multiple versions of Android…”

    That is why all Mac software is ugly right? Multiple screen sizes and different hardware specs have really held back the desktop and laptop market.

    As the mobile computing market matures they will solve all these issues just like they did on desktops and laptops. Then having only one phone in one size will become a liability.

    • jo-macral

      You have to remember however, that we are not talking about the desktop or laptop markets. We are talking about small screen, mobile devices. iOS and Android are both designed to run their apps full screen and not windowed like on the desktop.

      Because of this, it is much harder to program an elegant application on android when you are not sure about the screen size of the device in question and the apps tend to suffer visually due to this. iOS only has a few varying screen sizes to worry about which are easy to account for and as such, the apps ‘feel’ more integrated and better designed even when the Android and iOS apps are produced by the same developers.

      The mobile market will mature, and developers will mature with it.. For now we need to concentrate on what we have, and can accomplish on the platforms we currently hold in our hands.

      • anon

        Most people think very short term about “phones”, these device WILL replace traditional computers. The fixed screen size is only an issue for the next few years. Expect “airplay like” monitors, mice, keyboards and speakers to become the norm, expect for your desktop/laptop to go the way of the dodo. We will be right back at complex output options, as people will interact with the device differently depending on whether they are sitting on a train playing angry birds or writing a proposal at a desk in their office.

        BTW, Microsoft knows, go look at the tech demos for Windows 8.

      • jo-macral

        anon, I could not agree with you more. The tablets will dominate in the near future, and are already starting to outpace PC sales.

        I use my iPad for everything, except for a few important things such as development, etc.. which are are either not suited, or impossible to do on tablet in it’s current form.

        I have an MSDN subscription and have tried a few of the Windows 8 betas.. I am an avid Windows 7 user (sorry Apple), but I don’t really care for Windows 8’s new tile based system which IMO has no real place on a desktop.

  • AndroidStinks

    Hate Android