Well put simply (and remember folks this blog is for the layperson!) it’s about all the different versions that an OS has and which ones are live and which aren’t. With IOS for example you see a big drive towards the latest version, Apple quite literally force people to update their hardware, with older OS versions getting cut off from support fairly quickly. However Android’s open source, hardware vendors can take whatever version they like and the OS and hardware is improving all the time so we get OS fragmentation.
This makes it’s difficult for businesses to choose an OS that will serve them for years not months. Do you go for the latest and greatest OS for example at the risk of it having some bugs? Is it better to go for a device with a slightly older OS, swapping maybe some innovative features for stability?
We’re definitely seeing a trend in Android Rugged device uptake but we’re also seeing some other trends in consumers going for lower Android versions. If you look at the latest OS breakdown from Google above you can see that Jelly bean is still by far the most widely live OS in the market right now and that was an OS that was launched in June 2012 and superseded by KitKat in Sept 2013 which is over a year ago. The drivers for this are businesses taking more Android up but also that people are finding that the older OS’s are probably good enough and do what they want them to do reliably…something that a business should be looking for when it comes to supporting IT at least anyway.
Right now, our opinion is to always stick to slightly older versions of the OS that have been tried and tested, have a lot of help in the community and ones that have been proven to work and have decent help and resolutions where perhaps they have not worked so well. We’d always give any OS a 6 months wide birth if you’re sticking any kind of mission critical business process on top of it and we’d also recommend checking what each OS version brings in terms of bug and feature fixes so you have the one that matches your needs exactly.
With Lollip (v5.0) hitting very soon, it’ll be interesting to see how this impacts the business world.