Gingerbread is still hot, but Jelly Bean is proving to be mighty tasty. The latest stats from Google on versions of its Android operating system show a rise in usage of the newest incarnations, 4.1 and 4.2, from 6.7 percent as of last month to 10.2 percent. The data, following holiday sales, was collected during a 14-day period ending Jan. 3 by measuring devices that access Google Play, Android's marketplace for apps and media.

Gingerbread Falls To Less Than Half

As before, the versions 2.3 to 2.3.7. are still the most heavily used, powering fully 47.6 percent of devices, all but 0.2 percent for the most recent updates to that system. In December just over half of Android users were packing Gingerbread, suggesting a huge rate of upgrade ahead by people using older devices. Those users, of course, may decide to switch to devices powered by Apple's iOS or, less likely, Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 or Research In Motion's BlackBerry 10.

The next-largest share is versions 4.0.3 and 4.0.4, nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich, which power 29.1 percent of Android devices.

The share of people using ancient phones powered by Froyo, version 2.2. fell from 10.3 percent last month to 9 percent this month, while the seemingly prehistoric Eclair, version 2.1 changed only slightly from 2.7 percent to 2.4 percent.

The data is useful for developers of new applications and games to determine how many devices can use their products. Any app that can still work with Eclair or Froyo will be compatible with 100 percent of Android devices, Google noted, "because all Android APIs are forward compatible."

An API is an application programming interface, which allows software components to communicate with each other.

"The increase in OS upgrades is mostly dependent on device upgrades instead of schedule OS upgrades made by the carrier or OEM," said wireless-tech analyst Kirk Parsons of J.D. Power and Associates. "So the Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean OS platforms should continue to increase over time as more customers upgrade to newer devices, particularly those using long-term evolution 4G high-speed data networks."

It's a Mixed Marketplace

Another analyst, Jeff Kagan, added: "There are quite a few different device manufacturers, and each of them has quite a few different devices. The marketplace is a mix. Many customers are eagerly awaiting the next version. Many other customers are happy with their service as it is."

Smartphones that will receive the Jelly Bean update or ship with the software already installed include Google's flagship device, the Nexus 7, Samsung's Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note, Motorola's RAZR Maxx, the HTC One X, One S and One XL. Tablets include the Sony Xperia Arc S. Xperia Mini Pro and Asus Transformer Pad.

The next version of the Android operating system, in keeping with the dessert-goodies theme of nicknames, will be called Key Lime Pie. Still to be seen is how Google handles the challenges of keeping the platform fresh.