For ages we’ve been debating which mobile operating system is the best; is it Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Android or Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iOS? In some areas, Android comes out on top while in some areas iOS does. While we’re not here to debate this issue again, there’s one thing that we would agree on and that is that the fragmentation issue on Android is really serious. This is one area where iOS beats Android, easily.

android vs ios

What is fragmentation?

Fragmentation basically means the issue of an app running on one combination of hardware and software, while not running on others. As per app developers, this fragmentation issue is very serious when it comes to Android, as a huge number of Android devices are running an outdated version of Android, and hence can’t run many apps. Apps that are made to be compatible with new OS don’t run on old OS, and vice versa. Plus, there are so many variants of hardware and software when it comes to Android, that it makes a question for the developer as to what to support and what not.

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Android vs. iOS: Fragmentation issue compared

android-ios-compared

A graph from Fortune illustrates the problem of fragmentation more clearly. From the graph, it is evident that Gingerbread is installed on a large number of devices, followed by Jelly Bean. Still, many devices are running on Donut, Eclair, Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich. Outdated OSs are still being used, as Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) doesn’t provide any ‘official’ way to update the OS to the latest version.

Also see: Facebook Inc (FB) ROI on Ads 18X Greater on iOS Than on Android

In comparison to Android, the fragmentation issue on iOS is barely an issue. According to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), as of December 1st, 96% of iPhone users were running either iOS 6 (22%) or iOS 7 (74%). What this means is that developers know that they’re building the app for which iOS version, and better and faster updates. Since Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the sole manufacturer of the hardware and the software, Apple knows what to build for what device, which device will get updates and which won’t.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s latest operating system, Android KitKat is aimed at running on lower-end devices, but right now even this fact is not able to solve the fragmentation issue. Now only time will tell if Google tackles this issue, and when.