The world Android lives in is a confusing jungle. Today we released our annual report on Android Fragmentation, which takes a look at the complex variety of devices that developers have to build for. This complexity is both good and bad, if you can imagine your dream phone then someone, somewhere, will probably have built it. The downside, however, is that the apps you install may not be optimized for its screen size or features.
One thing we noticed in building this year’s report is the dramatic changes that have occurred in the ecosystem over the past few years: a huge increase in observed devices, great proliferation in manufacturers and (our favourite topic) the rise of embedded physical and virtual sensors. We spotted a few trends that we felt were too broad to be included even under our broad ‘Fragmentation’ umbrella – so we decided to include them in this blog. Screens are bigger, CPUs have more cores and mobile devices now contain more RAM than your average desktop not too long ago.
Over the past few years, and over ten million OpenSignal downloads, we have seen the Android device landscape both fragment and evolve. Devices are bigger and more powerful, and this has changed the way people use their devices, helping to make the web increasingly mobile-first. Interestingly you can see the slight tail-off in NFC growth, as a technology that was supposed to be revolutionary never completely took off, with only around 30% of observed Android devices being NFC capable. Screens have steadily got bigger, a trend that does not appear to be slowing down (and our largest ever screen size, the Slate 21, is recorded in the main report) – in a few years it will be instructive to see similar graphs (perhaps produced by the data teams at Levi’s or The Gap) to see how this technological transformation has influenced 21st century pocket design.