Facebook: 66% of our Android users are 2011-era or older spec hardware


Facebook, like Android, has a massive user base. According to the massive social network’s developer blog, Facebook sees more than 500 million active users every month using more than 10,000 different Android powered mobile devices.

You know what that means right? Lots of different versions of Android (not to mention hardware capabilities) are connected to Facebook, and that means the company has to maintain some structure with its development teams to dedicate some resources in order to ensure each version of the platform interacts properly. This also lets Facebook build common tools so it can “avoid re-inventing the wheel.”

Previously, Facebook looked at which version of the Android OS was being used, but the focus has shifted to hardware. That is due to the swift growth of affordable Android devices around the world, and the emerging classes of hardware relative to version of Android they are running.

The teams now look at a “year class” of the hardware, and according to Facebook, better than two-thirds of the Android user base is on a hardware equivalent to something released in 2011 or earlier. For a competitive comparison, 2011 is when the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S II were the banner bearers for the platform.

Why look at it from a hardware point of view? It lets the Android teams at Facebook look at other common elements, such as screen size and resolution. With these benchmarks, Facebook can better ensure smooth performance on everything from News Feed rankings to commenting experiences. For example, older-year-class devices would not have as many video embedded posts if the hardware is known to not play them smoothly.

Facebook is also examining how these devices perform on their respective mobile networks, so that performance can be optimized for networks exhibiting high-latency (as such as can be optimized anyway). In addition to performance, knowing if the device is operating on a new 4G network, versus a legacy 2G, or congested 3G network in a developing market.

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Seeing this angle of development shows the depth Facebook achieves to ensure a better experience across what is really representative of “mainstream” hardware in the Android ecosystem on a global basis.

Below is an interesting video where Facebook presents the variables discovered as it adopted this practice of looking at Android from a hardware perspective. It is long, nearly an hour, but the first 13 minutes provide a good overall view of the Android landscape for Facebook.

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source: Facebook Code Blog

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