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Google again hasn't updated its Android version distribution numbers for a while - about six montsh, to be exact - sending the tech blogosphere in a tizzy. It, gasp, does this for a second time in a row.
Back in the spring, there was a brouhaha that instead of the monthly version distribution charts, there was nothing posted for five months, then on May 7 Google updated it, and it is still waiting to be refreshed six months later.
This brought on a frenzy of speculation that Google doesn't want to give Apple fodder for its iPhone introduction keynotes to gloat over, as has happened many times before. We don't blame Apple for trying to point out that iOS updates are quicker, hate the game not the player, as this chart from May, while better than last year, still doesn't sit pretty.
Alternatively, Google may have just switched to a bi-annual Android version numbers distribution reporting. Why? Because updates are now happening in a record fast manner, and Project Treble is finally giving fruit.
Ahead of I/O 2017, the Android household announced Project Treble. Touted as the biggest change to Android's system architecture ever, the undertaking separates the low-level code written by SoC manufacturers like Samsung and Qualcomm from the Android OS codebase. This is the very basic gist of it, and the result is that device makers can now deliver updates by updating only code relevant to the OS without further work needed from the silicon slingers.
While at the beginning not all phones' hardware and software was compatible with Treble, since last year the situation has changed, leading to this year's record fast Android version update sesh. Wait, what? That's right, and we will just leave a few examples to illustrate that Android's fragmentation may finally be on the way to become a non-issue a year or two down the road.
Last year, Google released the final Android Pie version to manufacturers at the end of August, the 9 Pie beta was served to the US carrier models in November, and the actual Android 9 Pie came to Verizon, T-Mobile and other carrier models at the end of January/beginning of February. It was not an exceptional year in that regard, as we are used to Samsung's Galaxy S series carrier models getting the newest Android version as far out as six months after its release.
This year, however, Android 10 was officially released on September 3 for supported Google Pixel and some other devices. On October 14, the Android 10 beta started rolling to T-Mobile's Galaxy S10 models already, and you'd likely be able to ring in the new year with a carrier S10 model that boast the newest version of Android, something that hasn't happened since, well, ever. Ditto for European or unlocked models.
The world's second-largest phone maker already has its flagship P30 Pro from the spring being updated to Android 10 as we speak, and to the latest version of its Emotion interface. Yep, two months after Google released it, again an update speed with barely a precedent for the maker.
Other top-tier Android makers like the Chinese trifecta of OnePlus, Oppo and Vivo have also updated or started the preview process of their flagship Android 10 builds, and LG said it is following suit with Android 10 on its G8 or V50 juggernauts. Google is certainly proud of this achievement, as it clearly states with the following chart.
All in all, we are seeing an unprecedented speed in everyone getting their popular phones up to the newest Android version this year, and Google may have simply concluded that this will be the future going forward, so monthly updates of the version distribution charts will be becoming less relevant than before, what do you think?