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.

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.



source: Facebook Code Blog

FEATURED VIDEO

74 Comments

1. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2278; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

However old the phone, most people enjoy using Android, more.

2. Malcolm.Merlyn

Posts: 160; Member since: Sep 28, 2014

ikr! I still have my Galaxy S III on CM11, stills works great.

18. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Seeing as how iOS 8 and WP just caught up to Gingerbread, they should be just fine.

35. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 968; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

iOS may have caught up with Gingerbread in terms of features, but in terms of reliability, they have plummeted. Countless issues with iOS 8 including not being able to connect or get internet via Wifi (huge problem since people are constantly trying to reduce their tiered data usage to save money on their cell bill). There's a reason why there are so many active Android devices though, and it has little to do with preference. When anyone can buy a $50 Android phone for Prepaid, suddenly the popularity of the platform increased. Cheap phones are going to be bought more often, but also thrown away sooner than a high-end device. Cheap for a reason.

42. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

Yet Android is still playing catch up to Windows Phone 7 visually.

48. vincelongman

Posts: 5718; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Designs is all personal preference IMO Material Design (5.0+) > Holo (3.0-4.4) > iOS 7+ > Metro > iOS 1-6 > Gingerbread

50. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

No matter what your personal preference is they were all influenced by Metro aka Modern UI.

53. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

At least the modern OS variations.

68. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

And what was the inspiration for Metro?

56. SaintHelena

Posts: 397; Member since: Nov 05, 2014

Really? and why Microsoft developing a skin for android?? To beta test their new Windows Phone 11 UI. So which is first, chicken or egg? Material Design is the BEST UI now.

57. CoryMeetsWorld

Posts: 170; Member since: Oct 17, 2014

Nope.

67. skyline88

Posts: 698; Member since: Jul 15, 2013

that horrible interface and cluttered menus of WP? thanks, but no thanks.

73. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Exactly. Even tho he said visually....so I didnt respond to it. Thats almost like iOS folks complaining that the home screen setup on Android is copying iOS.

66. Mittal

Posts: 494; Member since: Dec 14, 2011

The first three phones shown on the chart are not accurate year wise ... :P

72. NFSHesham

Posts: 297; Member since: Feb 04, 2014

They haven't arranged it according to date of release If you saw the video you would have heard them saying that these three phones are released later than that date The LG was released in 2012 but it performs like a 2011 smart phone And the Galaxy Y was released in 2011 but it is slow that its performance is comparable to 2010 smartphones

3. hmd74

Posts: 540; Member since: Jan 31, 2013

So What? What's the point?

14. Awalker

Posts: 1981; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

I'm not sure why they framed the article that way. The video is very interesting though. It highlights some of the challenges faced by app developers when trying to make their app accessible and enjoyable in countries where most people can't afford a high end phone.

49. vincelongman

Posts: 5718; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Agreed, this is why Google needs to release the Android One world wide Also they've said Project Ara should help lower the cost of a phone as well

58. CoryMeetsWorld

Posts: 170; Member since: Oct 17, 2014

Project Ara is DOA.

71. vandroid

Posts: 405; Member since: Sep 04, 2012

I'll have what drugs you're on, it must be some good sh*t.

25. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

One thing it does is makes Microsoft look even more bad for discontinuing Skype for WP 7 users. And Skype is still available on older version of iOS and Android.

28. muhsen

Posts: 281; Member since: Jun 07, 2012

They discontinued it on all old platforms. To have skype, u have to have a device running WP8 and above, android 4.1 and above or iOS7 and above. U can still download the app on older platforms but it won't work.

59. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

No, you can run the older version on older versions of Android and iOS.. At least 2.3 for Android, and iOS 5. What you mean is the latest version. Its completely gone for WP7 users tho. Checking the Play Store....version varies with device. And checking Skype support section, give exact info about which Android and iOS versions.

62. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

There is even a screen shot for iTunes saying "download an older version of this app?"

30. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

"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. 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."

4. sipha

Posts: 440; Member since: May 12, 2012

Theres nothing interesting about this: Facebooking is just trolling, just look at the wording.. When you realy think about it, the iPhone 5s technicaly is running 2010 specs!!

15. Awalker

Posts: 1981; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

If anyone is trolling it's Phone Arena. The video is to highlight the different approaches Facebook employs to make the app experience enjoyable for people in third world countries who mostly use low end devices on very slow networks. I'm not sure why PA chose that one statistic to make an entire article.

26. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Yeah, 64bit is so 2010 that just now Android starts supporting it.

27. wilsong17 unregistered

Since when is 64bit good with 1 go of ram

38. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

Well, with 3gb also and I don't see any Androids with 4 gigs.

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