Which Android versions are most important for testing VR?

Several months have passed. Google did not publish statistics on October, maybe because they wanted to have Android 7 Nougat showing up in the statistics – which finally happened in November. [https://developer.android.com/about/dashboards]

While Nougat makes its first appearance, Android 6.0 is almost surpassing Android 4.4. Android 5.1 is still showing a little growth, but that will not keep happening for much longer – let’s say another couple of months max. All other versions are decreasing in market share or remain on an equally low level.

Another part of the statistics that Google releases each month is about the screen sizes and screen density. Here we see a clear trend that the “normal” screen size keeps on gaining market share as well as the “xhdpi” density.

As a testing company, we keep a close eye on the latest trends in mobile devices. Most, if not all of you, have heard about AR (Augmented Reality), MR (Mixed Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality). Pokemon Go is an good example of AR. Microsoft is going for MR with it’s Hololens. Samsung Gear VR has been out in the wild for some time now. HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are dominating the current PC VR market. Google has launched it’s Daydream platform. We see a lot of creative companies jumping in as well, which lead me to the following question:

What kind of Android device do you need and for what purpose?

But before I answer that question, let’s first look at the numbers. Here are the Android version and Android codename statistics.

Fig.1 Overview by version (click to enlarge)
Fig.2 Overview by codename (click to enlarge)

Results from the graphs interpreted:

  • Android 7.0 Nougat appears in the statistics for the first time
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow is growing rapidly and has 24% market share, almost passing Android 4.4, the long time #1 place holder
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop keeps on increasing slowly
  • Android 5.0 and lower are losing market share
  • Android 4.4 remains the largest Android version, followed by 6.0, 5.1 & 5.0
  • Android 4.2 is still worth testing with, although slowly dropping towards the 5% marker
  • Android 4.3, 4.1, 4.0, 2.3 & 2.2 are debatable if they still need to be tested with
  • I would skip 2.2, 2.3 & 4.0 unless these versions still generate revenue for you
  • For version 4.3 & 4.1, I would only perform a smoke test to see if it’s usable

So back to the question “What kind of Android device do you need and for what purpose?”

For the Samsung Gear VR you need a Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, Note 5, S7 or S7 edge. For Google Daydream you can currently only use the Google Pixel Phone running Android 7. Looking at the Android versions trends and with this in mind, I would say that for AR/MR/VR you should focus on Android 6 and up. It’s new technology, so make sure it works on the latest Android versions. Also the screen density (now dominated by hdpi and xhdpi) will most likely move more towards xxhdpi, xxxhdpi and maybe even one kind of density that is not defined yet – let’s call that “vrdpi” (you heard it first here, folks!)

In my next blog I’ll start including screen density statistics, so you can follow the trend with me.

Do you want to know more about testing on Android or VR? Let us know!

Written by: Travis Hatridge

Travis is the Marketing Manager at spriteCloud. He has an MSc in Marketing and a background in content marketing. He enjoys cooking, travelling, and long walks through the forest.

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