Android 12 is not present on almost any phone, except for the Google Pixel and some other high-end phones. Despite this, we already have the first Developer Preview of Android 13, being the first time that Google has launched a version with such a short distance between the previous one. Was it necessary to release a version so soon, instead of focusing on improving the current one?
We wanted to open the debate on the need to launch one version of the operating system per year, which iOS is not exempt from either. The iPhone and iPad operating systems also have a long history of fixing some pretty cool stuff, although the penetration rate is much higher.
There are apps that don’t even work on Android 12, but we already have Android 13
Google has long since stopped updating Android’s release rate on a monthly basis. However, the latest data is from November 2021, so it’s not that long since the last record.
The adoption rate of Android 11 is poor, that of Android 12 practically non-existent. But we already have Android 13 running in its first preview.
The data is clear: just over 24% of Android devices had a cumulative distribution of Android 11. In other words, almost 80% of Android phones were outdated, according to Android 11 data, which are not even the last. version.
Android 12, a version that is not even six months old, is present on the phones that can be counted on the fingers of two hands, but we already have Android 13, a version that developers must start working on so that their applications work with the new ROM. Today, some apps don’t even work well on Android 12, and those developers will have to adapt them to the latest version now.
Fragmentation is one of Android’s main problems, which doesn’t help that we have a new version year after year. The usual cycle, with luck, is usually two years of updates, except for some manufacturers who offer three and the exceptional case of Samsung who offers four years of system updates and five of security patches.
Due to the very “open” nature of Android, the fragmentation will always be there, but perhaps lowering the pace of updates would help establish current versions and give manufacturers time to adopt them, without needing to constantly think about updating to the new. Something similar (but not as drastic, perhaps) to what we see with systems like Windows 10, with longer lifecycles and updates aimed at improving the same version.
iPhones are more updated, but it wouldn’t hurt to slow down
In the case of iOS, the picture is quite different. Currently, the adoption rate of iOS 15 is over 70%. In other words, only 3 out of 10 iPhones are not updated, all this taking into account that the adoption of iOS 15 is slower.
However, the iOS story is one of the builds that break things and builds that fix things, so it wouldn’t hurt to tweak the builds that end up being pretty polished. There have been many generations where Apple had to release a “stability focused” version because by loading the new version with new features they made it less stable.
This is the case of iOS 9, iOS 12 and iOS 14, without going any further, versions focused on improving performance and losing instability compared to their predecessors. Lowering the pace would help with stability, with the small toll of losing news that in most cases is minor.
Technology evolves from year to year and the renewal of the operating system has become a tradition that accompanies the evolution of the hardware itself. We open the debate on whether or not to reduce a speed, let the versions sit a little longer and have their lifecycle based on polishing them until they are completely stable, and think more patiently about the inclusion of new features.