Android 9 Pie Adoption Up 250 Percent Over Previous Version

Posted on May 8, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 23 Comments

Citing the success of its Project Treble technologies, Google this week said that adoption of the latest Android version has skyrocketed compared to the previous version.

“Thanks to Project Treble and our continuous collaboration with silicon manufacturers and OEM partners, we have improved the overall quality of the ecosystem and accelerated Android 9 Pie OS adoption by 2.5x compared to Android Oreo,” Google’s Anwar Ghuloum explains. “Moreover, Android security updates continue to reach more users, with an 84 percent increase in devices receiving security updates in Q4, when compared to a year before.”

That’s impressive, but it’s important to put these numbers in perspective: Today, Android 9 Pie, the latest Android version, is still only available on just 10.4 percent of Android handsets. Android 8.x Oreo is available on 28.3 percent of handsets.

Google announced Project Treble two years ago as a means by which to make Android system updates less time-consuming and costly. Put another way, Project Treble addresses the so-called Android  “fragmentation” issue that results in many Android handsets not receiving timely updates, especially version upgrades. It did this in a way that will be familiar to Windows fans: It modularized Android so that the core OS is now separated from “the device-specific, lower-level software written in large part by the silicon manufacturers.”

Project Treble has had another impact, too: It allows Google to offer beta releases of future Android versions to more handsets, and not just its own Pixel devices. Android Q Beta 3, for example, is now available for a long list of handset models.

Finally, Google is further improving the distribution of Android updates via a new initiative called Project Mainline that lets it update core Android components through the Google Play Store as if they were apps.

“With this approach, we can deliver selected components faster, and for a longer period of time – without needing a full [over the air] update from your phone manufacturer,” Ghuloum says. “Mainline components are still open sourced [and] we are closely collaborating with our partners for code contribution and for testing.”

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Android 9 Pie Adoption Up 250 Percent Over Previous Version”

  1. Thomas Parkison

    I'll believe what Google's saying about all of this when we see evidence that this process is working. I still can't wrap my mind around the idea that Google will be able to replace core OS components like say, a WiFi driver that just so happens to have an exploit in it. How can Google do that? Wouldn't that require root privileges?

    • wright_is

      In reply to trparky:

      They can't replace the drivers, only the manufacturers can do that. But they can fix problems in system libraries quickly and efficiently. It is the same with Windows, Linux and, to a lesser extent, Apple.

      The core operating system can be upgraded by the OS creator (Google, MS, Linux distro, Apple) and some, common, generic drivers can also be updated.

      The drivers with extra features and tuned for performance can only come from the hardware manufacturers. But, as long as the API for drivers doesn't change, the OS can be fixed or updated without having to wait for the manufacturers to provide new or updated drivers. The reverse is also true, the hardware manufacturer can simply supply a fixed driver, without waiting for the next update from the OS developer.

      In theory at least.

  2. Daekar

    So... Treble makes it faster for OEMs to roll out new versions to the tiny portion of handsets they bother rolling updates to?


    I'm glad they're working on this, because if friction decreases enough more handsets will get the updates, but it's going to take more. I hope they keep pushing.

  3. TroyTruax

    Where's the incentive for phone manufacturers to keep the OS up to date? If you need a feature that's only available in a newer operating system? You get a new phone. Exactly what they want. We need to somehow switch the conversation from "can you hear me now?" to "all our phones get regular updates." Google has pushed this as a feature with its Nexus (and now Pixel) phones and this has not turned into huge sales so we're back to "where's the incentive?"

  4. Rob_Wade

    Great, but when did all this new update capability start? I suspect fragmentation is still a huge problem and still relies heavily on the carriers. So, the question is, how new does your device have to be in order to be much less of a slave to the whims of carriers?

  5. longhorn

    "It modularized Android so that the core OS is now separated from “the device-specific, lower-level software written in large part by the silicon manufacturers."


    This is the price Google has to pay for having an OS that is fragmented across many different ARM SoCs from different vendors. Compare this with Windows that can produce one ISO (Windows 10 x64) and target more or less every Windows 10 x64 device with the same updates.


    The Android fragmentation problem is a direct result of different ARM SoC architectures. Windows continues to enjoy the comfort of the locked down x86 specification. I would like to see Intel open up x86 licensing to more chip makers, but still keep a locked down specification because it is the only way to avoid fragmentation and let all devices receive the same updates.


    This is why I am against Windows on ARM. It will bring the ARM fragmentation problem to Windows and suddenly Windows devices will have to be supported by ARM chip makers instead of just receiving pretty generic x64 updates from Microsoft.


    TLDR: It's not an Android fragmentation problem. It's an ARM fragmentation problem. Android is just trying to work around it and Project Treble seems to be fairly successful at doing that. I think Project Treble can show Microsoft how to deal with the ARM platforms, but the question is if Windows is modular enough.


    • Winner

      In reply to longhorn:

      Doesn't Windows contain a crapload of drivers for like almost every device out there? It seems the difference is that Android doesn't do that.

      • longhorn

        In reply to Winner:
        Doesn't Windows contain a crapload of drivers for like almost every device out there? It seems the difference is that Android doesn't do that.


        Yes, because it's impossible. ARM is more like the wild west. Every SoC maker is making their own proprietary architectural tweaks to ARM to gain advantage, but it also means it's impossible to make a single Android image for ARM. You see this if you download custom Android ROMs like Lineage OS. There is a separate ISO for every different phone. And if you want a newer version of Android/Lineage OS someone has to compile it for your specific phone.


        Sometimes there are different ISO images for different versions of the same phone. ARM really is the dumpster fire experience from a compatibility perspective. And to some extent Android is too because some apps depend on the underlying ARM architecture.


        Google and handset makers don't want you to replace the software that comes with your phone so the ARM fragmentation serves them well in a way. It's just that it also makes it harder to deliver updates and that is what Project Treble tries to solve.


  6. dcdevito

    I know they have to report on these stats, but honestly, why bother? This is a problem that will never be fixed.

  7. wocowboy

    In essence, since Android Oreo came out almost a year ago, LG, the maker of my V30 phone, and T-Mobile, my carrier on the phone, have both been "testing" Android Pie. That is their official PR line anyway. For almost a year. Testing, for almost a year. It has been receiving some of the Treble-mandated security updates, which is good, albeit some of these updates came months after their official release. But the "testing" phase of almost a year, or for some other phones by other manufacturers taking more than a year is just an absolutely ridiculous situation and should be a source of great embarrassment to both Google and LG in my opinion. There should be no reason for years of "testing" except for the obvious reason that they need this time to write and re-configure all the carrier-ware, crap-ware, and bloat-ware the maker and carrier slop onto every freaking phone they sell. Apple does not put crapware on their devices, crapware being 5 different chat apps, 3 different music apps, carrier browser, carrier freebie apps, etc etc, and does not allow carriers to do it either, and I think this simply must be the primary cause of these massive delays in Android OS installations and fragmentation.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to wocowboy:

      There should be no reason for testing. It’s already been tested. By Google, the software OEM.


      Its the same crap as back during the Bell System in the US, “unauthorized” phones were prohibited.


      Just more corporations with inflated senses of importance. They think they’re more than dumb pipes.

    • beatnixxx

      In reply to wocowboy:


      So at this point they are on life support, but I bought an Essential phone about a year and a half ago/2 years ago for $450 on sale unlocked, and I have to say I've had none of the problems associated with Android in the past, i.e. no performance rot. I get monthly updates and have been among the first to get the new version of A ndroid when it ships.


      I'm honestly considering buying another one as a back up. Refurbished Essential phones were $239 on Amazon last time I checked.


      Only problem I've had is about twice a year, the monthly security update breaks my bluetooth so that my normal devices require a complex order of connection in order to co-exist. Usually fixed within a couple of cycles.

    • wright_is

      In reply to wocowboy:

      That is why I always buy a carrier free phone. It has worked fine over the years with T-Mobile (Germany), but I switched to Vodafone at the beginning of the year and they block manufacturer updates on their network.

      Needless to say, if they don't change their ways, I'll be going to a different network next time round!

      Luckily I still have a company phone on T-Mobile, so I just need to swap SIMs once a month to get the updates, annoying but I can live with it, for now.

  8. BlackForestHam

    That’s 10.4% of active Android devices. Nice job, Google. Maybe by 2024 the upgrade adoption rate will be closer to that of iOS!

  9. wright_is

    My Mate 10 Pro is also now on Pie! After weeks of cursing under my breath that Huawei had abandoned it, I contacted support and asked them what the heck was going on? I had received all updates up until January, since then nothing, no security updates, no Pie.

    The answer came back quickly, they were sorry to hear this, and yes, the phone should already be on Pie. They would put it back in the queue. Oh, and had I tried changing the SIM?

    Luckily I had a SIM from my company phone (T-Mobile), so I slipped that into my private phone and entered the PIN and, withing about 10 seconds, the phone told me it had found an update! 2 reboots later, I had had the January Pie update and the May security updates applied to my phone!

    I had switched providers in January (Vodafone) and it turns out that, for non-Vodafone branded phones, the network blocks all manufacturer updates on their network (even when the phone is connected via Wi-Fi)!

  10. jimchamplin

    So they’ve made it actually usable? ?


    No more “Maybe 6 months of updates” situation?

  11. denni tech

    11% of active Android devices. good job, Google. May the upgrade rate will be closer in future thanks for this valuable information

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