One-in-four iPhones, iPads still run iOS 7, as fragmentation lingers

iOS 8 accounts for almost three-quarters of all software installed on Apple's entire install base, but is it enough to keep drumming the Android fragmentation drum?
Written by Zack Whittaker, Writer-editor on
(Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

Apple's latest figures show 25 percent of all iPhones and iPads are still running an older version of the company's mobile operating system.

In the past two weeks, adoption of iOS 8 increased just three percentage points, representing as many as 530 million iPhones and iPads combined.
(Screenshot: ZDNet)

But that leaves as many as 185 million iPhones and iPads users running the older iOS 7 version, who either unable or unwilling to upgrade.

The figures land just a few days after the technology giant released a minor software update, iOS 8.1.3, which it said reduces the amount of storage space required to perform a software update.

That was a major pet peeve for many who were trying to upgrade their devices, but were unable to because of the size needed. This deterred many from upgrading because they would've had to remove photos, videos, and music from their device.

Apple was slapped with a class-action lawsuit earlier this year over the matter, with the complaint alleging that each update "shortchanges" its users.

The company's own snafus haven't helped matters, either.

Days after iOS 8 was issued, it rolled out a botched iterative update, iOS 8.0.2, which Apple took two days to fix, leaving some 40,000 people without cell service.

That couldn't have come at a worse time for enterprise customers running iPhones and iPads. Business customers often wait a few iterative updates before they take the upgrade leap in order to avoid any unnecessary initial hiccups. But a botched update would've kept many at bay with an older, and tried and tested older version.

Between Apple's storage issues and botched updates, this has led to a fragmentation issue between the latest software and older versions of the operating system, which could ultimately affect user's security.

And that's a problem for Apple's customers, but also the company's image.

Apple regularly takes the opportunity to jibe at its mobile rival, Android, because a combination of incompatible devices and slow carrier updates has left the Google-owned ecosystem struggling to ensure older devices are up-to-date.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook, citing ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, called Android a "toxic hellstew" of vulnerabilities and security issues, which updates typically fix.

Google's newest figures show the latest version of Android "Lollipop" is installed on just 1.4 percent of devices, with five different versions taking up the remaining 98.4 percent.

That meant millions of users stuck on older versions of Android are left vulnerable to mobile malware, data theft, and other security vulnerabilities as a result of bugs not being patched in older code.

Google recently confirmed that, despite having potentially damaging consequences for its legacy software users, it will wash its hands of Android "Jelly Bean" and older versions by not fixing serious security flaws.

For many, that means buying a new Android phone or tablet to stay secure.

Apple takes a similar "patch-and-update" approach. It does not always patch older versions of its mobile operating systems, instead asking users to upgrade. The upgrade cycles are longer for Apple users, meaning more can upgrade, leaving few of its older customers unpatched.

For now, the iPhone and iPad maker can only hope that the latest software update, which takes up less device storage space, can alleviate some of the issues with slow adoption.

Because if Apple's customers aren't running the latest patched versions of its software, they're not secure. And while Apple has a smaller overall market share than Android, it owns a large portion of the lucrative enterprise space. If it can't keep those businesses happy, it can all but bow out of the race already.


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