How does Facebook classify Android devices? By year

yearclassandroid

While Android has imaginative names for their operating systems, such as Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich, that’s not how Facebook engineers classify Android devices.

In a blog post, Facebook’s Chris Marra and Daniel Weaver explains how Facebook optimizes its experience on Android by breaking up devices by year:

We call this new concept “year class” – essentially, in what year would a given device have been considered “high end” in? This allows teams around the company to segment the breadth of Android devices into a more understandable set of buckets, and as new phones are released, they’re automatically mapped into the representative year. For example, the Alcatel T-Pop I bought at a market in Mexico is immediately recognized as a 2010-class phone, despite its 2012 release. Overall, about two-thirds of the phones connected to Facebook are equivalent to something released in 2011 or earlier.

Year class allows teams to think about a handful of segments of the Android population, rather than every individual device. Using year class in conjunction with screen resolution, we can break down metrics to make decisions about why behavior shifts on different devices – is it performance, screen real estate, or something else? While the Android OS version is still useful for reliability and crash benchmarks, we’ve found year class to give us a much more accurate portrayal of how performance and behavior can vary between different devices.

In addition to analyzing data by year class, we are using it to roll out new product features. Using year class we shipped a better commenting UI to 2012 year class or better phones high-end devices while we worked to optimize it on older models. We also use it to power News Feed ranking, so that we don’t show as many video stories to phones that can’t play them smoothly, and prioritize showing you things that work best on your phone. Going forward, year class can help determine many other logic decisions around animation, how much content to load, and other element’s of the apps performance.

For the full blog post, click here.