Android 10 adoption numbers bring hope for the future

We've stopped covering Android's distribution numbers every month for one simple reason. Last year, Google has stopped publishing those monthly figures, a change that some say was its way of hiding how poor Android adoption really is compared with iOS. Android updates have always been a sore point even for the most steadfast Android believer but it's not for the lack of trying. Google has recently disclosed how it plans to improve that situation but has also revealed how Android 10 may have been best-adopted release ever.

Google doesn't give exact numbers like it used to and it definitely doesn't break down how much of the market Android 10 already covers. Still, it's quite telling that Android 10 was able to reach 100 million devices in the first 150 days or 5 months after it launched, 28% faster than its predecessor, Android 9.0 Pie. Google doesn't talk about the present but, going by that same chart, Android 10 may have already exceeded 400 million devices by now.

This jump in rate didn't come overnight after just one release. Google has paved the road for that since Android 8.0 Oreo or even going back as far as Android 7.0 Nougat which introduced A/O OTA updates. Oreo's Project Treble made it possible to separate vendor-specific components from the more general Android framework and created the Generic System Image or GSI to help OEMs test new updates faster. Android 10's Project Mainline extended that concept to specific OS components themselves so that these can be updated via Google Play Store just like regular apps.

Android 11 will continue that work together with the requirement for Virtual A/B implementation. Project Mainline will be adding more OS components to be updated via Google Play Store, including parts such as Media Provider and Cell Broadcast Receiver. Google will also be extending the GSI concept to the Linux kernel, providing Generic Kernel Images (GKI) for faster security updates.

All of these improvements, however, will come to naught if OEMs don't take advantage of them. A recent Reddit AMA revealed how Android updates are basically slowed down by the costs OEMs and carriers incur when applying and testing updates. While Google can't really do anything about those costs, it is working to help make it easier and simpler for manufacturers in the long run.