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Google changes how it measures Android version adoption, sees uptick in Jelly Bean devices

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Galaxy Nexus Jelly Bean
Galaxy Nexus Jelly Bean

Google routinely gives monthly numbers breaking out the adoption of various versions of Android, but the company has now changed the way it calculates those numbers — providing a distinctly different portrait of the Android ecosystem in the process. As outlined on the Android Developers site, Google now uses the data collected when users visit the Google Play Store; under the previous system, any check-in to the store by the device would have been incorporated into the results, user-generated or not. The new system went into effect starting with this month's results.

The change essentially skews the results towards those users who are actively visiting the Play Store. Google says as much on the page itself, noting that the new system "more accurately reflects those users who are most engaged in the Android and Google Play ecosystem." To be fair, however, it is those same users that Android developers should arguably be focusing on in the first place, since they're more likely to discover or purchase an app.

More up-to-date Android users

Unsurprisingly, the new data collection tactic results in a landscape of Android users that are more current than what was described just one month ago. Jelly Bean accounts for 25 percent of the devices out there — up from 16.5 percent in March's results. The other numbers saw less dramatic shifts; Ice Cream Sandwich was on 29.3 percent of devices in the new figures (up less than a percentage point from the prior month), while Gingerbread users dropped from 44.2 percent to 39.8 percent.

While adoption of new versions of Android has been on the rise — last month Android 4 variants overtook Gingerbread for the first time— it's not clear whether the change in the Jelly Bean numbers here is sheer adoption, the change in the way the data is calculated, or a combination of both. Future numbers should provide additional insight, but one thing is certain: the days when the Android ecosystem was reliant on version 2.3 appear to finally be fading away.