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​Android updates: Nougat finally overtakes Marshmallow but Oreo still languishes

It's taken 18 months to get there, but Nougat is now the most widely used version of Android.

Video: Google tells Android app developers to prepare for 64-bit future

Android Nougat has finally overtaken Marshmallow to be the most commonly used version of the smartphone operating system.

Nougat, launched in August 2016, is now running on 28.5 percent of Android devices, according to Google's own developer data, narrowly ahead of Marshmallow, which accounts for 28.1 percent. Marshmallow debuted in October 2015.

Google has an uphill struggle to get smartphone makers to upgrade devices to the most recent Android releases: the latest, Oreo, arrived in March last year and is currently running on just 1.1 percent of Android devices.

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Image: Google

That's even less than Android Jelly Bean, which has been around since July 2012. And spare a thought for the users of the 0.3 percent of -- presumably antique and creaking -- phones that are still running Gingerbread, which arrived way back in 2010.

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Image: Google

Google cannot force Android smartphone makers to upgrade their devices to the latest version of the mobile OS, so there tend to be many different versions in use. Many vendors will only offer the latest version of Android on their newest handsets, in order to encourage users to upgrade.

Download now: Mobile device computing policy

In contrast, because Apple controls both the hardware and the operating system for the iPhone, it can drive upgrades faster. Apple's most recent data shows that 65 percent of iPhones are now running iOS 11, the latest version, while 28 percent are on iOS 10.

The remainder are likely mostly older devices that cannot support the most recent versions of iOS.

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