Today will see Google lift the lid on Android 12. And if it's like previous versions, the way that most Android users will get to see this is if they buy a new smartphone.
Currently, based on StatCounter data, about 12% of Android devices run the latest Android 11, behind Android 9 (sitting at 30% and declining) and Android 10 (at 18% and declining). Android 11, released September 2020, will see its market share continue to grow over the coming months until Android 12 gets some traction, and will be around for years to come.
And the cycle repeats.
This is very different to iOS, where Apple aggressively pushes it to hardware hard and fast. Over 70% of iPhones are running iOS 14.4 or above, and remember, that version was released at the end of January of this year.
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I used to think that the Android way of updating was broken. Handsets were slow to get updates, and very few got upgraded to a new Android release. This risked the Android ecosystem becoming a toxic hellstew of security vulnerabilities.
But things have changed.
First, more Android handsets are getting timely security updates, which is a good thing. The prime reason for updating is to keep up with the endless torrent of security bugs and vulnerabilities.
Another thing that's happened is that Apple has shown me the downsides of a constant stream of updates that not only patch bugs, but bring new features.
They bring more bugs with them.
Over the past few years, I've watch iOS releases become increasingly buggy, despite what seems like a very active beta test regime. The last few years of releases have started out buggy, and then had a stream of buggy updates before finally hitting some sort of stable ground.
Just in time for another release.
Right now, iOS is a buggy hellstew of performance issues, battery issues, and weird, long-term bugs like the notifications problems that seems to be ongoing.
Having spoken to a few people at Apple, it's not clear what the issue is. Some cite the aggressive yearly update cycle combined with updates throughout the year. Others say that there's a pressure to add more and more features, while one said that the size of the ecosystem and the support for too many older models was causing issues.
Whatever the reason, there's no sign of things getting better.
Right now, I'd much rather if Apple separated security updates and bug fixes from feature updates so we could have the choice to be able to get patches but keep the rest of the platform the same.
You know how you can get too much of a good thing. I feel that's where I am with iOS updates. I used to eagerly await new releases. Now I wonder what new bugs and hassles the updates will bring.
Maybe the Android model is the best way after all.