updated 06:19 pm EDT, Mon April 7, 2014
Rapid adoption means iOS more secure, easier to develop for
On Monday, Apple updated its iOS adoption statistics for developers to show that 87 percent of active iOS devices are now running iOS 7, with only 11 percent still on iOS 6 and a mere two percent (presumably devices that cannot upgrade, such as the original iPad) stuck on earlier versions. The figure was achieved less than seven months after the original release of the upgrade in mid-September. By comparison, only about 5.3 percent of Android users have or have been allowed to upgrade to last year's KitKat , which was announced around the same time as iOS 7 and debuted a month later.
Adoption of iOS as of April 6
Adoption of iOS 7 has risen five percentage points since February and two percentage points since March, while KitKat (version 4.4 and higher) use has only risen 3.5 percent in the same period. Some 52 percent of iOS users had upgraded to iOS 7 just seven days after its release, with another big jump to 72 percent following the huge number of devices with iOS 7 already installed bought and subsequently activated over the holiday season.
A number of obstacles have prevented most Android owners from upgrading to the latest version, which contains numerous important security fixes, primarily delays while carriers customize the release, or refusal to allow the upgrade by carriers. Despite KitKat having been designed to be able to run on a wider variety of devices than previous releases, carriers often don't allow upgrades on some eligible devices due to an incentive to get the users to upgrade hardware instead, which generates profit. The built-in obsolescence of many cheaper Android devices also makes them ineligible for upgrades.
The rapid adoption of new iOS releases (which are available to all eligible devices on the day of release, regardless of carrier) has proven a distinct advantage for the platform both in terms of disseminating new features and security updates as well as allowing developers to incorporate the new technologies into their own programs quickly. A survey taken last summer -- before iOS 7 was even released -- indicated that more than half of all iOS developers planned to make their apps iOS 7-specific because of the plethora of new features and expected rapid adoption.
While invisible to most users, the ability of Apple to quickly update iOS to meet any security issues may be the most important aspect of the disparity between the two platforms. A recent flaw in SSL found in iOS 7 was quickly patched, with the majority of users installing it within days. By contrast, a critical flaw in Android's WebView which was fixed in version 4.2 is still open nearly two years later for the majority of Android users because the update isn't available for their device, reports AppleInsider. Roughly 68 percent of all Android devices are still vulnerable to the exploit and dozens of other critical security flaws, since they are not or cannot run Android 4.2 or higher.
Android version distribution
In February, Cisco networks unveiled a report that said that 99 percent of mobile malware now targets Android, echoing findings from Juniper Netowrks last summer. In the latter's report, it noted that "77 percent of Android's threats could be eliminated today" if all Android devices were capable of running the latest OS version.