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Android 5.0 Lollipop: Where Are The Updates?

Google and its smartphone partners have been slow to roll out Android 5.0 or Lollipop. It maybe a sign the code is still buggy.
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Major releases of the Android operating system are generally slow to proliferate once Google makes them available. In the case of Android 5.0 Lollipop, things are going really slowly.

The latest report from Google indicates Android Lollipop represents just 1.6% of devices accessing the Google Play Store for apps, games, and other content. Manufacturers have had Lollipop in their hands for three full months. Here's where Android 5.0 stands.

Google provides data about Android versions every two weeks or so. The data it released on Feb. 2 is the first time Android 5.0 Lollipop registered on the scale at all. Its very, very small slice of the pie is due to its limited distribution. For starters, only the Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet ship with Lollipop preinstalled. Further, only a handful of phone makers have pushed the update out their respective lineups.

For example, Motorola -- formerly owned by Google -- has updated its 2014 Moto X and Moto G smartphones to Android 5.0. Similarly, Google pushed Lollipop to the Nexus 5 and Nexus 4 handsets, as well as the Nexus 7 tablet. Samsung rolled Lollipop out to the Galaxy S5, but in a limited number of markets. Verizon Wireless is the first to push Lollipop to the GS5 in the US. LG has distributed Lollipop to its G3 flagship device, but again only in a few markets. Sony has promised that all its Xperia Z devices will see Lollipop at some point, but has yet to deliver.

HTC? Well, they're working on it.

HTC generally delivers updated operating systems within 90 days of the platform's release. Late last week, however, the company said things aren't going as smoothly as hoped. "We've been working hard in the labs with Google and our carrier partners ever since the code release and are making great progress so far, but if you've been following the progress of this rollout you will know that Google has had to address several issues with this release. We've been diligently working to fix some of them on our end and incorporating Google's fixes as quickly as possible, but despite everyone’s best efforts some carrier versions of the HTC One (M8) and HTC One (M7) will not meet our 90 day goal."

That's a polite way of saying the code is still pretty buggy -- as most anyone running Lollipop will tell you. It's clear that Android 5.0 has some time left to cook and smartphone makers are taking the time to line up all their 1s and 0s properly.

With Android 5.0 still warming up, Android 4.4 KitKat still owns the Android ecosystem with 39.7%. Androids 4.1 through 4.3 Jelly Bean own a combined 44.5%. Separately, 4.1 is running on 18.4% Android devices, 4.2 is on 19.8%, and 4.3 is on 6.3%. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is installed on 6.4% of devices, while Android 2.3 Gingerbread is still on 7.4%. Versions of Android earlier than Gingerbread hold less than 1%.

What does Lollipop have that these older versions don't? Material Design for starters, and improved security features. The code is (supposed to be) optimized to run more smoothly thanks to ART (Android Run Time) and support for 64-bit processing. Project Volta is meant to help OEMs get a handle on battery life, and newly installed apps are all scanned for malware. Last, Lollipop adds a kill switch so users can remotely disable their device.

[Office for Android, Outlook upgrade, and more in Microsoft news.]

It's clear that Android 5.0 is not in a hurry to go anywhere. Don't feel bad if your device hasn't been updated yet; chances are you still have months to wait.

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