Google says Android 6.0 has reached only a small fraction of Android handsets, but that's slowly beginning to change. Some of the world's leading phone makers have finally begun rolling out the Android 6.0 update to their best devices.
As of Feb. 1, only 1.2% of Android devices accessing the Google Play Store were running Android 6.0 Marshmallow. That's an abysmally low number, especially when one considers that the percentage of iPhones and iPads running iOS 9 has reached 85%. Android 5.0 and Android 5.1 Lollipop each account for 17% of Android handsets (34.1% for Android 5.x in total), while Android 4.4 KitKat still holds 35.5%, and Androids 4.1-4.3 Jelly Bean account for 23.9% of Android devices.
Earlier this week, Samsung said it has started to deliver Android 6.0 to the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge in earnest. Other devices (presumably the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5) will follow shortly.
In addition to the standard list of Marshmallow features, Samsung is taking special care to tweak the GS6 Edge, and the curved-edge screen in particular.
As it works today, GS6 Edge owners swipe the curved portion of the screen to see shortcuts to apps and contacts, and to access certain bits of information, such as notifications, news headlines, and so on. Android 6.0 will expand the edge screen powers on the GS6 Edge by making the viewable space twice as wide.
Moreover, Samsung is doubling the number of visible app and contact shortcuts, and providing more info about contacts. Samsung says that, thanks to its Edge Screen SDK, more developers than ever are taking advantage of the curved screen. It says the Android 6.0 update will expand the number of third-party apps accessible from the edge screen.
Samsung's carrier partners haven't said exactly when Android 6.0 Marshmallow will hit the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge in the US, but it should be soon.
HTC is ahead of Samsung. The company this week began pushing Android 6.0 to several versions of the One M9 handset. For example, Verizon Wireless has told One M9 owners to expect the new OS to arrive in the next few days. With Marshmallow, the M9 will also gain support for Android Pay, in addition to Google Now On Tap, Doze, and other features. T-Mobile is pushing Marshmallow to its One M9, too.
LG's G4 and G3 are also in the Marshmallow lineup from Verizon Wireless. The carrier said the G4 will gain access to its WiFi Calling function, which should help those who have poor indoor coverage at work or at home. The G3 is getting a strict Android 6.0 update, but that should be plenty for those still using the two-year-old phone.
Last, Sony has announced plans to update the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact to Android 6.0 starting next month.
In 30 days' time, the percentage of Android phones running 6.0 Marshmallow may just make it past the 2% mark. Well done, Google and partners.Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio