Google: Android Marshmallow on steady rise, unpatchable phones falling

The slow rise of Google's latest version of Android is gradually reducing the share of Android devices that will never get security updates.

screen-shot-2016-05-04-at-10-43-52.png

Marshmallow climbs to 7.5 percent as most older versions decline.

Image: Google

Android Marshmallow 6.0 adoption is gaining momentum, breezing past the five percent mark over the past month to 7.5 percent.

Marshmallow's share of the Android pie grew 2.9 percentage points from a 4.6 percent share at the start of April, according to Google's latest Android platform distribution numbers. Between the start of March and the start of April, Marshmallow grew 2.3 percentage points.

Despite gaining ground, Google's newest version of Android is still a minority system, eight months after it was released. It's growing more slowly than Lollipop, which reached 10 percent at this time last year.

10 best smartphones of 2016 so far

With the launch of the HTC 10 and the passing of all the winter shows, it's time to pick the 10 best smartphones to get this year started.

Read More

However, as noted by Android Police, Marshmallow was the only version of Android to grow while nearly every other version shrank.

And that's good news on the Android security front. As Google noted in its annual Android security report, last year it didn't provide security fixes for 30 percent of Android devices. Google only offers patches for Android 4.4.4 KitKat and above in its monthly security updates for Nexus devices, which are also shared with Android partners.

But as of May, the share of Android devices that will never receive a patch has fallen to 25 percent. Most of the unpatched products are running Android Jelly Bean, which accounts for 20.1 percent of all Android devices. Earlier versions down to Android 2.2 Froyo account for the remaining 4.9 percent.

Google this week also decided to rename its monthly Android security notice from the Nexus Security Bulletin as the Android Security Bulletin to reflect its status as addressing vulnerabilities that may affect all Android devices and not just Nexus ones.

Google provides Android partners with the bulletin about a month before it publishes the notice, giving them time to prepare the updates for specific models. But until this month, the only firm to line up its patching with Google's Nexus updates is BlackBerry for its Priv devices.

However, Samsung also this month for the first time pushed out Google's patches in line with the Nexus update, bringing its Galaxy flagships up to the current Security Patch Level May 01, 2016.

In August, Samsung announced it would follow Google's monthly Android security update cycle, and while it has provided monthly fixes, it's typically lagged Nexus updates by several weeks.

Read more about Android