A tale of two OS updates: iOS and Android
Apple and Google love their mobile operating systems. They do their best to convince users that their way of implementing features is better than the competition. Of course, therein lies a fundamental difference. Apple uses iOS on its own handsets and iDevices but Google practically gives away Android to hardware manufacturers -- to every company which wants to utilize and modify it.
It's no secret that Android is a fragmented operating system and some even call Android's status quo device fragmentation. This has serious implications for accessibility. Apart from manufacturers' attempts to replace Google-branded apps such as Contact and Clock with their inaccessible ones, future updates of the OS which might enhance access reach users with huge delays. And while that's a big issue for the first major update after one purchases a handset, it's not clear at all if the cellphone will even get the second major update after that.
The following might serve as a good example. This post indicates that only 14 days after iOS 5.1 was released, 61 percent of users had upgraded to it. And this is not even iOS 5.0 which has kept about 18 percent of iOS users. However, with Android 4 (ICS) we get a different ppicture. Today and more than 3 months after its release, only 2.9 percent of those who have activated their Android handsets have received ICS, and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) vastly dominates the world of Android with a 63.7 percentage point. What I can conclude from all of this is that Android's flexibility comes with a heavy price tag both for developers and for visually impaired users. It remains to be seen how Google wants to tackle this Pandora's box.