Ecosystem Explosion: New Report Finds Nearly 20,000 Distinct Android Devices

It took a few years, but Google has finally come to grips with a real issue: fragmentation. At Google I/O this year, it took steps to unify tablet and phone apps, as well as unify design language for devs moving forward. It has also integrated Google Play Services into the Android framework, which enables it to push smaller, incremental updates to all Android phones without having to push a point release to a carrier for their own approval. Though baby steps are taking place, a new report showcases why it's so vital that Google get the issue under control.

OpenSignal just published its 2014 Android fragmentation report, which confirms that there are 18,796 distinct Android devices as of today. That's up from 11,868 according to last year's report. For the fresh data, it surveyed the last 682,000 devices to install its app, which paints a very broad stroke of the Android ecosystem. It doesn't appear that things are slowing down. With so many companies pushing new Android-based phones and tablets onto the market, fragmentation is only going to increase in terms of hardware diversity.

Thankfully, Google is attempting to roll out entire point release updates to Android at a slower rate, while most meaningful changes happen via Google Play Store updates. This removes the unpredictable carrier from the equation, which hastens the update process across the board. And with nearly 20,000 devices to consider, a small change like that translates into a lot of saved time.