Starting the Reactive Journey

Share if the site was helpful

Starting the Reactive Journey

If you’re an Android developer, then odds are you’ve heard of RxJava.  It’s a popular library that utilizes the observer pattern.  Rx (ReactiveX) allows us to program reactively, meaning our code can be executed as events happen.  It’s tough to fully wrap your head around it at first, but once you get it your codebase can become more efficient and clean.

The Observer Pattern:

The Observer pattern (and RxJava) revolves around three key concepts.  The three O’s: observables, observers, and operators.  When combined these three allow us to emit information, modify it, and then react to it.  The best way to think about the observable pattern is to consider everything a stream. Data starts at the top of a stream and flows downhill.  On its way down things can happen to it to modify the data, and then at the bottom of the hill we use the data.

This is a high-level view of how the observer pattern works.  Think of observables as the top of the stream, operators changing the data on its way down, and observers as the bottom of the hill.  Ok, maybe this analogy will make a little more sense after you learn a little more about each of these O’s.

Observables:

An observable is something that can be observed.  It is something that emits data that we can react to.  A good example that already exists in Android is a button.  Whenever a button is pressed by the user it emits data. That data is basically just saying “I was pressed”, but it’s still data emitted from an observable!  What we do with that data is our option and none of the observable’s concern (think about the standard Android button; it just knows it was pressed, we write the logic for what it does).

So an observable is…literally something that is observable.  Real life examples could be a movie playing or a singer singing. These are things we could watch happen, but they don’t really impact us until we observe them.  Which brings us to the bottom of the stream.

Observers:

We’ll skip over operators right now and jump straight to observers because they are essential to this paradigm. So we have a movie playing already (the observable), and once we turn on the TV to watch it we have become the observer. The data (movie) is coming to us and we can react to it however we want.  Likewise, with an observer in Android we can write a function to react to the data an observable emits.

In the RxJava world observables don’t always have to emit just one piece of data, that’s the beauty of it.  They can emit thousands and thousands of pieces of data, and then observers can react to each and every piece of data if they see fit.  And just like multiple people can watch one tv, multiple observers can observe one observable.

Wrapping Up:

It’s a lot of “o” words I know, but the concept is pretty simple.  Observables emit data, observers react to it.  We’ll dive into plenty of code in part 2, so stay tuned for that as well as examples of how operators come into the mix!  RxJava takes a little while to get down, but once you do it’s too addictive to quit!

Keep The Resolutions Going With Phonlab

Share if the site was helpful

Keep The Resolutions Going With Phonlab

We’re one week into the new year, and hopefully sticking with resolutions.  The most common goals tend to revolve around exercising, eating healthier, or learning something.  We can’t help you out with the first two, but if you’re looking to pick up a new skill this year you’re in luck!

Mobile Developer Courses:

Phonlab’s Mobile Development courses offer a great affordable way to learn app development.  Whether you’re completely new to programming or looking to add a new skill to your repertoire, it’s worth it.  These courses will take you from writing your first line of code all the way up to publishing your first app on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

Coursework is great, but really sets Phonlab apart from other online educational materials is the personal touch.  As you’re learning you’ll undoubtedly get stuck. Instead of having to spend hours researching your issue, you’ll receive personalized support walking you through solutions.

What’s in a Lesson?

Depending on your level of dedication, you could go from never programming to publishing an app in less than a month.  And you only have a few spare hours a week, fear not!  With Phonlab’s one-time payment you get access to the coursework forever.  You can either speed through the course again and again or take your time and absorb all the knowledge it has to offer.

And that knowledge covers all the core topics in mobile development.  Whether it’s Material Design tips for how to create an aesthetic layout of images, or efficiently downloading information from online and displaying it to users, there’s a video teaching it.  These videos feature footage of apps being built in real time with audio explaining every step.  And along with the actual creations are animations helping to explain any tricky concepts.  The goal is to make it as easy as possible for you the developer.

Sign Up Today!

If you’re interested in taking your programming skills to the next level or starting at line 1, I’d definitely recommend you check out these courses.  Who knows, by the end of 2019 you may be making apps for a living.

Reduce, Reuse, RecyclerView

Share if the site was helpful

Reduce, Reuse, RecyclerView

Mobile users have developed a rigorous set of standards in the past few years.  If an app takes more than a few seconds to launch, they’re annoyed.  If a button takes more than one second to react to a click, there will be some uninstalls.  With such high expectations for performance app developers need to make sure they do everything in their power to speed up their apps. 

RecyclerView For Efficiency:

The Android OS has grown alongside user expectations.  New libraries and views have emerged to offer improvements to an app’s efficiency.  One of these that EVERY Android developer should know is the RecyclerView.  RecyclerView is (as defined byAndroid) a flexible view for providing a limited window into a large data set.

Basically, think about every list you scroll through on an app.  Odds are that list is a RecyclerView.  The idea is you can map out how large you want the space to be on a user’s screen, and then that portion of the screen will be scrollable showing a number of smaller layouts.  Each of these can be designed however you see fit. 

Think of Spotify’s list of songs in your library for example.  Each layout in the list holds TextViews displaying the song name, artist, an ImageView of the album cover, and an arrow on the right indicating you can click on it for more information.  This layout is used again and again but different information is loaded into it each time.

But How Is It Efficient?

So if you saved 2000 songs to your library then every time you open the app you’ll have to load 2000 layouts? That sounds like an awful user experience as they have to wait.  No you won’t, and that’s the beauty of a Recyclerview.  Your app is only going to create 10-15 of those layouts. Then as you scroll it will empty the top layout’s info, kick it back down to the bottom of the RecyclerView, and load it with new data. 

Your app has all the info from the list, but it only has to create views for items as they appear to the user.  And once a few views have been created, it won’t ever have to make new views since it recycles them as you scroll.  I wonder how they came up with the name RecyclerView…

Setting Up RecyclerView

Adding a RecyclerView to your app’s layout is not too complicated, but there is a fair amount of work involved.  Phonlab’s Android App Developer Course shows a detailed step by step tutorial, but we’ll cover the 30,000ft view here.  The process essentially breaks down into two parts:  Your layout and your adapter.  The layout is more straightforward; it’s you creating an xml wireframe view for where you want the info to load.  What should a layout look like when it’s given the proper info?

The adapter is a little more complicated.  There are three methods that your RecyclerView adapter will override.  These are onCreateViewHolder(), onBindViewHolder(), and getItemCount().  In order these tell your adapter what to do when creating a new layout, adding new data to a layout, and how many items are in the list total.  onCreateViewHolder will be called every time we need to make a new layout, but once the initial work is done and a user begins to scroll onBindViewHolder will be where you add click listeners and other interaction logic.

Seeing it in action:

After you have all of your logic for loading the data into a ViewHolder (layout) you need to create an instance of the RecyclerView in your app.  Then set the RecyclerView’s LayoutManager and Adapter using the class’s methods.  If everything is set up correctly and you’ve added an xml RecyclerView in your parent layout, then clicking run should show your scrollable list of views.

It’s essential your app meets current standards for efficiency.  RecyclerView is a great way to improve responsiveness.  With it you can present users with immense amounts of data without slowing down their experience at all!

Overriding and Overloading: What’s the Difference?

Share if the site was helpful

Overriding and Overloading: What’s the Difference?

When programming for Android (or anything) writing custom methods isn’t optional. If you don’t know what it means to write a method, then I recommend you check out Phonlab’s video tutorials.  And if you do, then don’t tune out yet!  Methods are like icebergs (90% of their functionality is unseen at first glimpse).  And getting to know the other 90% is what can take you to the next level in your development.  In this post we’re going to explore the ins and outs of overriding and overloading to make development easier.

Methods 101:

If you’re an Android programmer, then you undoubtedly know what a method is.  It’s a block of code that you give a name.  This way every time you call it that block is executed.  I know it’s a fundamental concept of programming, but here’s a sample that we’ll build onto over time.  Let’s say that you’re building a contacts app and can add contacts given a name and phone number.  Here’s the class your app uses:

Great, seems simple enough right?  But any good contacts app is going to do more than just this.  If a user wants, they should be allowed to include other info as well.  What if they want to put one contact on speed dial? Or what if they want to add a contact to a group?  How about this:

Now, there’s no problem with this code.  Each of these three methods will add a contact with the extra information that they included.  But these method names could start turning ugly if we kept adding parameters.  How do you feel about the method name addNewContactWithSpeedDialAndGroupAndPictureAndAgeAndRingtone?  First off, I’d say let’s drop every “And”, but even so that method name is getting long.  This is where overloading can help.

Overloading:

Overloading is the practice of creating new methods with the same name.  But you can’t have two identical method names, right?  If they had different logic how would the computer know which one to execute? Well they actually can as long as the parameters are different.  As long as your methods each differ like this:

then the compiler is able to recognize them each as individual methods.  So now if a user wants to add a contact it doesn’t matter how much information they give!  They can either call addNewContact(Carl, “1112223333”) or addNewContact(“Carl”, 1112223333, “Friends”) and their new contact will be added with that info.

Order counts too, you could have the methods addNewContact(String name, int phoneNumber) and addNewContact(int phoneNumber, String name) as two separate methods in the same class.  This doesn’t open many doors in this specific scenario, but it’s handy to know all the same.

Overriding:

While it sounds almost identical, overriding a method is a somewhat different technique.  This allows us to take a method that exists in a parent class and change its behavior.  As a demonstration let’s say that our contacts app has a page where you can look at individual groups.  When you open the group for “Family” there is a button where you can add contacts to this group.

Our new class named FamilyGroup will extend our NewContact class.  By doing so it now has access to the parent class’ methods.  But we don’t want our user to have to type in the group they are going to use.  That’s a waste of time for them since they’re already in “Family”.  To fix this we’ll override our addNewContact(int phoneNumber, String name) like so:

Now when a user puts in info for a new contact’s name and phone number this method will call NewContact’s addNewContact(int phoneNumber, String name, String group) and pass in “Family” for the group.  Sure, we could have written another function in this class to add the contact, but this way no matter how complicated NewContact’s method is, we get to call it again with only one line of code!

Wrapping up:

Overriding and overloading can make your code a lot neater if used properly, and there’s a tone of cool things you can do with these techniques in the real world.  This contacts app isn’t the most realistic project, but it gets the simple idea across.  When you start getting into more complex inheritance overriding can save you a ton of space.

If you enjoyed this post at all and want to learn more about Android development check out some of our other tutorials such as how to develop augmented reality or more complex apps!

 

Let Firebase Cover the Basics For You

Share if the site was helpful

Let Firebase Cover the Basics For You

When it comes to writing code, the less you have to do the better.  You want control over how your applications behave, but if you can piggy back off of other developer’s work then that’s generally a good thing.  And if you’re hoping to be an app developer, then one of the best tools for piggy backing is Firebase.

Using others to your advantage:

If you think about it even developing the most basic app takes the work of countless others.  Someone else had to develop the programming language you’re writing in, someone else had to build the IDE (probable Android Studio) that you’re developing on, and someone had to…well you get the point.  Any modern-day invention was not created from nothing, it came about thanks to the ground work being done by something that came first.

This doesn’t mean you can’t be innovative.  It means that there’s nothing wrong with using 3rd party libraries and tools to make your development journey easier.  If you don’t have to worry about the basics then you can focus on what makes your app great.  Ok enough justification, let’s talk about how you should use Firebase to make life easier.

Authentication and Data Management:

How many apps do you have that require you to sign in to fully use features?  Of those how many let you create and account through Facebook?  Users hate having to create sign-in info, a decent percentage won’t even go through the process because of the extra 10 seconds it takes.  So including an option for one-click sign in makes it more likely your app will succeed from the start.  Firebase makes this feature easy to leverage allowing you to create a sign in screen with companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google. 

When users sign up Firebase keeps track of their info and allows user management to be easily configured.  If a user gets a new phone they can log in and Firebase will associate them with the same account.  Firebase also has a database feature allowing you to create and store JSON info, so users can interact with one another and store information easily.  Let’s say you wanted to create that new social media app which lets people post pictures and message one another:  Firebase should be your go to.

Analytics:

When you release an app it’s best to have a game plan for what’s next.  What if users love one part of the app but never use another?  Well if that’s the case then you should aim for a redesign that either brings in new features or directs the users attention to things they are more interested in.  Of course if you release an app and people in other countries start downloading it you can’t exactly track them down and ask them how they’ve been using the app.

This is where analytics come in.  Firebase gives you the capability to monitor user events (anonymously) so you can see which features are getting the most interaction.  If you have a search bar in your app that no one ever clicks on, it’s either time to drop it or move it elsewhere to try again.  Analytics can keep you in know for how your app is behaving and what should change.

Crashlytics:

And on the topic of what should change in app behavior, crashes are about the worst thing a user can experience.  You may be getting 1 star ratings in the app store because your app shuts off randomly for some users and you don’t know why.  Firebase offers Crashlytics to look at the stack trace details for every crashed application.  If there’s one button in your app that is broken and slipped through your checks when publishing, now you’ll be able to see that it’s responsible for the crashes and act accordingly.

Firebase offers a ton of other features that can make development easier and the user experience more fluid.  These are just the tip of the iceberg and features I enjoy using on a daily basis.  If you want to learn how to incorporate Firebase into your apps then checkout Phonlab’s Android Development Course!

 

That Missing Guide To Kotlin Part 2

Share if the site was helpful

That Missing Guide To Kotlin Part 2

In part one of our Kotlin series we began exploring the newly adopted language.  We saw a few examples of how it can make our code more concise and user friendly than Java including type inference and inline constructors.  In part two we’ll continue to show how Kotlin can make your code easier to work with while focusing on one dreaded Java roadblock: The NullPointerException.

If you’ve written anything in Java before then you’re familiar with NPE’s.  It occurs when you attempt to interact with a variable’s value, but it turns out there is no value to interact with.  Your compiler can’t see that there’s no value available, but at run-time your system checks for it and then crashes when it can’t be found.

Kotlin to the rescue

While Kotlin is 100% interoperable with Java (99% really as we’ll see soon) it’s fundamentally different in a few aspects.  One of these is nullability.  In Java every variable has a default value.  This is the value it can fall back on if you never explicity say what value it contained.  For example when you declare a boolean variable, unless you specify its value, it will be false.  For any variable that isn’t a primitive type, the default value will be null.  This can be really useful at times, but it allows us to accidentally try to grab a value when there isn’t one.

In Kotlin its possible to completely avoid this situation. Every variable that is declared is either a nullable type or a non-null type.  What this means is that along with declaring what type of value (Int, Boolean, custom class) your variable holds, you declare whether it is ever allowed to be null or not.  Here are two varaibles declared in Kotlin.  The first can never be null, while the second is nullable.

As you can see, the question mark is used to show a variable has the possibility of being null.  If there’s no question mark in the variables declaration, then you are safe to use it in every situation without risking it throwing an NPE.  This means that you’ll never have to write if statements checking if a variable is null to play things safe. Goodbye useless lines of code

Nullablility In Action

When using non-null type variables, we don’t have to check if there is a value present.  But for other situations we still must take precautions.  One way that Kotlin allows us to do this concisely is through safe calls.  A safe call looks similar to the traditional method of retrieving a value, except we include a question mark at the end of the variable.  So

Becomes

By doing this we can almost read the code as if it’s English.  We’re asking “does the pet exist?”, and if the answer to that question is yes then we move on to the name characteristic of our pet.  If there is no pet that has been created at this point in our code, instead of the app crashing our variable will be given a value of null.

This becomes incredibly powerful when we start chaining safe calls.  Let’s say we want to check if a company has an HR department with an employee name Toby who at tuna for lunch.  Instead of writing a null check for each of these before interacting with them we can write

If along the way any of these things doesn’t exist, then the code will finish the statement returning null and not interacting with any of the variables past the break.  Without an HR department the code won’t crash, but instead our employee variable will be set equal to null.

Control Is A Good Thing

This is probably the most common feature of Kotlin that you see people talk about, and it’s because of how powerful it is.  Not having to deal with null values is amazing, but even when we have to our code can be concise and clean.

The language can also smart cast nullable variables into non-null given the proper verification at first.  So if you had a nullable variable and then explicitly check if it wasn’t null, then you wouldn’t need to use any ?’s moving forward when accessing that variable.

Kotlin isn’t perfect, but when it comes to dealing with null values it has everything that Java has to offer with some additional perks and changes.  We’ll continue exploring some of Kotlin’s advantages in part 3.  In the mean time if you have any questions about how nullability works let us know in the comments below!

That Missing Guide To Kotlin

Share if the site was helpful

That Missing Guide To Kotlin

 

In 2017 Kotlin began taking the Android community by storm.  Google adopted it as a first class language, and shortly afterwards developers everywhere renounced Java in favor of the newer, sleeker language.  That change isn’t going away.

I won’t lie, when I first was exposed I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. There were tons of articles that talked about how revolutionary Kotlin was compared to Java, but other than avoiding NullPointerExceptions they didn’t seem to go in depth at all. Because of this all I saw was slightly different syntax.  Boy was I wrong.

Kotlin is not perfect, but it does have a lot to offer that you don’t really notice until you start writing code with it.  This is part 1 of a 3-part piece will dive deeper into some of the things Kotlin has to offer.  Ideally after reading these posts you’ll have a better idea of how Kotlin can make your codebase shorter, more efficient, and easier to read.

Let’s start with the basics

Before we get into anything fancy, let’s explore a very basic concept that Kotlin offers: type inference.  In Java when you’re declaring a variable you have to do two things.  First you have to say what type your value is going to be (String, int, byte, etc.).  Second you have to name your variable.  Additionally you can set the variable to a value, or if it’s a member variable you can let it default to null, 0, or false depending on its type.

Kotlin tries to alleviate this (even if it’s not that painful) with type inference.  The compiler is smart enough to know what kind of value you’re working with based on what you set it to. Instead of writing

You can write

var is the generic term for variable in Kotlin, and the compiler knows that we’re dealing with a String because the value “hello” is a string.  Ok, that’s really not very cool. But compare these three lines in Java and Kotlin:

A small difference, but once you start writing with it you’ll be surprised how nice it is to not have to give that split second to declaring the right type.  The var keyword will work for any type that we attempt to put in it, even customized classes.  The keyword val functions the same way except its value is final.  In fact, everything in Kotlin is declared final by default unless otherwise specified (more on that later).

Saving Space

Ok, so we can replace a type declaration with the words var or val.  That doesn’t really save us a ton of time or space in our code.  Let’s look at something a little more impressive: Constructors.

Let’s say the app your building has a database that you need to get into to provide users with information.  To manage this data you’ve built the class DataManager.  Here it is in Java:

And here it is in Kotlin.

What’s happening here?  Well we’re declaring the class the same way with the words “class DataManager”, but Kotlin allows for an inline constructor.  This means we can create our constructor inside of the class declaration by adding our parameters “variable1” and “varaible2”.  Notice that we had to declare the types of each of these two variables along with the word val.

But…Type Inference

This seems to go against what we just learned about type inference, but don’t worry its not.  Along with the type inference we’ve seen so far you can declare the type.  There are some situations where both are necessary/appropriate (such as an inline constructor).  What this code is doing is saying that our class will have two var’s that are Strings, but since we haven’t actually created an instance of the class yet there’s no way our compiler would be able to know the values are Strings unless we explicitly declare them to be.

By including val before each parameter we ask Kotlin to both use it as a constructor argument as well as declare it as a member variable for the class.  And Kotlin classes also take care of getters/setters for us automatically, so we don’t need to write those.

From 20 to 2

So by declaring my two member variables inline I’ve knocked my code down from 20 lines to 2.  Yes, 10 times less code.  Obviously not everything changes this drastically, but this is a great example of how Kotlin can both speed up your coding as well as make it neater.  And really by no means does the readability suffer here.  Reading this Kotlin code we can see clearly that DataManager takes 2 parameters in its constructor, and unless we specify otherwise, Kotlin will always take care of our getters and setters.

Again, this is just one instance where Kotlin saves code, but we could take this example even farther by overloading our constructor with default values.  That’s an example for another Kotlin post down the road, but hopefully even this one gives you a taste of how your codebase can shrink when you convert it.

If you want to go DEEP down the Kotlin rabbit hole, then Phonlab offers classes on it in the Android App Development course.  I’d highly recommend you check it out, as well as stay tuned for part #2 of this!

Will Fuchsia be Android’s Usurper?

Share if the site was helpful

Will Fuchsia be Android’s Usurper?

Android is the world’s most popular mobile operating system, and for good reason.  It’s created both high end and affordable options for users worldwide to experience what it has to offer.  And what is has to offer has been time and time again improved upon.  That being said, improvements are always happening in the tech world, and 5 years from now Android might not hold it’s place as #1.  Here’s a curve ball for you: I’m not talking about Apple.  Android’s upcoming replacement may be Fuchsia.

Wait…what the heck is Fuchsia?

For a few years now a stealthy group on engineers at Google have been working on Fuchsia.  The project came into existence as a potential solution to Android’s limitations.  It’s being designed with voice interactions and security updates in mind where the current Android platform falls short.  And while this has been quiet, it hasn’t been locked down.  Some of the code has been open source since 2016 and outside app developers have been allowed to experiment with it.

The Fuchsia team has a higher goal than just more efficient software though.  They’re attempting to design something that will make interaction with all in-house gadgets a fluid experience.  Imagine a single operating system that controls all your speakers, tv, and other residential tech.  Now imagine also being able to interact with all of these devices by speaking to them.  Your house becomes a sentient being, somewhat like this post we wrote a few months back.

So Android will be gone in 5 years?

No, I definitely exaggerated in that first paragraph.  5 years would be an insanely quick turnaround for Android to completely fall off the map.  Android currently dominates as king with roughly 75% market share compared to Apple’s 15%.  Still, it’s far from perfect.  There are performance, privacy, and security concerns with out of date Android phones that need to be addressed, and a new software like Fuchsia could help jump that transition forward.  All the same we’ll be seeing Android phones for quite some time still, and P hasn’t even reached the market!

Fuschia is being developed with audio interactions at its core.  There haven’t been any apps built on it at a serious commercial level yet, but rumors are flying that we’ll be seeing a YouTube app with voice command soon.  My prediction is that over the next year or two Fuchsia is going to grow in the open source community until its eventual official launch, at which point we’re going to see a boom (hopefully a quicker boom than new Android version adoption rates!).  I’ll be keeping a close eye on it, so stay tuned for more updates.  And if you have any thoughts about Fuchsia or it’s potential let us know here!

 

Android P Releases Its Final Beta

Share if the site was helpful

Android P Releases Its Final Beta

While Android Oreo is just starting to hit its stride, Android P is making news too.  This week Google released the final beta preview of Android P before it’s official launch.  We’ve seen a few beta previews so far this year, and this one should be even closer to what P will look like when it launches.

According to Android VP Dave Burke this beta includes “final system behaviors” meaning Google’s new gesture-based navigation will be locked in and shipping with Android 9.0.  Of course there’s always room for improvement, and that’s a large reason betas exist, but this should be stable for installation on your main phone.  Google hasn’t mentioned any known bugs, so if you have a phone that can handle it out get the beta and let us know what you think!

What’s new in P?

We’ve talked before about Android P and what features it has to offer.  Spoiler: they’re awesome.  P offers a series of features that revolve around the idea of predictive analytics.

There’s an adaptive battery that takes into account what time of day you typically are running your apps, and if it doesn’t think you’ll be using them any time soon it shuts them off to save energy.  Couple this with the screen brightness which auto adjusts based on what you typically set it to throughout the day, and you’re looking at a much longer lasting battery life.

Apart from performance improvements, we also have completely new features that enable us to experience things differently.  One I’ve talked about before at length is Wi-Fi RTT.  Round Trip Time is a method of really getting to know your exact current location.  It’s accurate within about a meter, and does so by triangulating between multiple Wi-Fi access points nearby.  This improved location methodology offers some cool opportunities that just depend on how creative developers want to get.

Privacy Improvements:

There are also security improvements that come with P, and in an everchanging world of privacy that’s a key improvement.  Have you ever gotten a notification saying an app was running in the background when you didn’t think you’d been using it?  How about having an app crash in the background even though you haven’t opened it in ages?  That’s never a good thing to see.  P will prevent idle apps from performing actions such as accessing your camera (yes this is a thing!!).  P offers a series of security upgrades that limit what apps can do in the background in an effort to help protect user privacy.

How to get P?

First off, I’m so ready to stop calling it P and use it’s actual name. Unfortunately we’ll have to wait a little longer for that.  But if you want to get the beta on your phone today you can check it out on Android’s developer website here.  Give it a try and let us know your thoughts on it!  We’ll be sure to continue writing about developments in the software, so stay tuned for more.

 

 

 

Oreo: Coming Soon To A Phone Near You?

Share if the site was helpful

Oreo: Coming Soon To A Phone Near You?

It’s been just over 10 months since Android’s newest version (Oreo) began rolling out to devices. Almost a year, so let’s take a second to see how it’s doing. Well…it may be performing really well in terms of quality, but quantity is lacking.

How bad are we talking?

Every month Google releases Android’s distribution numbers showing how many devices are running each version of their operation system, and according to July’s numbers this year Oreo is active on 12.1% of active devices. As a point of reference, that puts Oreo at the 4th place position behind Nougat, Marshmallow, and Lollipop. There’s no denying this is a pretty sluggish speed for rolling things out (but to be fair it’s 0.4% ahead of where Nougat was during it’s growth phase).

So the trends show that new Android versions typically take more than a year to become the most used release, but this begs the question of why? Oreo offers some pretty cool new features such as picture in picture app usage and notification channels. Apart from battery life there aren’t too many reasons user’s would want to avoid upgrading to the newly offered software. But the issue is that it’s not actually offered to all users. There have been rollout calendars following which phones have adopted Oreo since it’s release, and the list of devices has grown slowly up until this month.

It’s Not The User’s Fault

A large part of why device updates are so slow is how fragmented the Android market currently is. Manufacturers often won’t bother with updating older pieces of hardware because it takes time and energy on their part that isn’t being put towards everything new. The end result is user’s being left high and dry. Even some new devices are hesitant to adopt the new software until it’s tried and true. User’s are able to flash their devices and test out other softwares if they so desire, but it’s not exactly mainstream to do so (as cool as it is!)

The bright side is that if you look at things over time they’re starting to ramp up exponentially. 5 months ago Oreo’s adoption rate was hovering around 1% (5 months after it’s release). Things were looking abysmal then even compared to other version’s growth rates, but thanks to a wave of updates this past month things are starting to look back on track.

Statistics Aren’t Perfect

It’s also important to note that the Android Developer dashboard I linked above relies heavily on Google’s Play Store to collect its data. This means that not every device running a version of Android is actually being accounted for in these numbers. The Play Store currently isn’t available in China (A $35 billion/year app market to be missing), and there are a few other factors at play attributing to uncounted devices. All the same it’s clear that Oreo is at about the same speed of rolling out as Nougat was, and we’ll likely see it enter the top 3 within the next few months. I for one am already looking forward to Android P though 🙂

Have you gotten Oreo on your device yet? What are your thoughts on either it’s performance or it’s rollout speed? Let us know in the comments below!

en English