For the first time, there are now more people running a modern version of the Android OS than there are running 2.3 Gingerbread. According to the Android Developers site, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and 4.1 / 4.2 Jelly Bean posted 28.6 and 16.5 percent respectively, for a combined total of 45.1 percent — narrowly squeaking by Gingerbread’s 44.2 percent.
The new operating system added major improvements for developers
Android 4.x has been slow to overtake 2.3 as the majority platform. 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich launched in late 2011 with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, taking nearly 9 months to reach 10 percent of devices. On top of the lauded UI revision, the new operating system (and its later iterations) added major improvements for developers, like new APIs for camera focus and metering, better access to calendars and contacts, improved accessibility features, and enterprise features like VPN services.
Trying to maintain compatibility on older versions of the software has proven to be a headache, illustrated by the recent case at Facebook, where engineers had to patch the Dalvik virtual machine to get around technical limitations in 2.3 Gingerbread. Still, while gaining a plurality is an important milestone, it’s worth keeping in mind that the data only includes those devices that have acessed Google Play within a given 14-day period, so it likely skews toward newer versions of the platform.