Android's latest version, KitKat, has made quite a splash thanks to its features, but recent market data released by Google shows that adoption is quite slow three months after its release.

What's the most popular version of Android?

The most used version of Android based on Google Play access still remains Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with a 35.5 percent market share. Android 2.3.3-2.3.7 Gingerbread comes in at second place with 20 percent, followed by Android 4.2 Jelly Bean at 16.3 percent. Android 4.3 Jelly Bean sits in at 8.9 percent, while Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest version of Android, is still only running on 1.8 percent of Android devices accessing Google Play, which is no surprise.

Android 4.4 KitKat was released at the end of October last year.

The data comes courtesy of Google, based on Google Play access for seven days leading up to Feb. 4, 2014.

Why is the latest version of Android running on so few devices?

Although the operating system is one of the most widely used operating systems in the world, the open source nature of the operating system lends itself to a fragmented distribution pattern.

Google develops a new Android version, usually referred to as the "stock" or "vanilla" version, before releasing it to the public. Stock Android can only be found running on Google Nexus or Google Play edition devices, and it's only these that receive a new Android straight from Google soon after the version is released. Other Android devices have to wait for the OEM (Samsung, Sony, HTC, etc.) to tailor the Android for each specific handset or tablet. Only then is a new Android version rolled out. If a device is tied into a wireless carrier, the process becomes even longer as carriers tend to have their own approval process through which they cram the new Android firmware with bloatware.

All in all, given the vast variety of Android devices, this long distribution process means adoption of new Android versions can sometimes be quite slow, with many devices lagging far behind the Nexus and Google Play edition lineup.

Android 4.4 KitKat in 2014

Market share for Android 4.4 KitKat should increase dramatically in the coming months, however. Popular handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, and HTC One are all slated to (some are already in the process of) receiving KitKat over the coming months. Add in the fact that the usual spring slew of new handsets will all come equipped with KitKat, more and more devices should be running KitKat in 2014 at a faster rate. Google purposefully developed KitKat with lower-end devices in mind, with the operating system only requiring 512MB RAM, more manufacturers should find it easier to update devices to KitKat than ever before.

Android 5.0?

There's no concrete date concerning the next big leap in Android just yet, but rest assured Google is working hard at creating something new. Android captured a 79 market share in 2013 worldwide, making it the player to beat. As we explained in an earlier report, Google will need to come up with something completely fresh to consumers in order to counteract its market saturation. Expect a radically new Android to rear its head during the second half of the year.