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Android Co-Founder: Fragmentation "an Overblown Issue" 289

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-it-easy dept.
curtwoodward writes "Sure, developers might pull their hair out trying to keep track of all the versions of the Android operating system scattered across hundreds of millions of mobile devices worldwide. But a co-founder of Android says the OS's fragmentation problem is being blown out of proportion. At an event this week in Boston, Rich Miner — now a partner at Google Ventures — said some level of fragmentation is inevitable with Android's reach and the number of partners in the ecosystem. But things are getting better, he said, and in any case most consumers don't notice the difference: `This is a bit of an overblown issue, frankly.'"
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Android Co-Founder: Fragmentation "an Overblown Issue"

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  • Yeah. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @07:18PM (#44245181)

    This just in: Guy with stake in product says nothing is wrong with product. Film at 11.

    • Re:Yeah. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:04PM (#44245501)

      This just in: Guy with stake in product says nothing is wrong with product. Film at 11.

      Thing is, he's not wrong. Most consumers won't notice. But then, most consumers wouldn't notice if their computer ran on little gerbils inside and the internet was just a series of tubes. But that's no excuse for his handwave. Fragmentation is a problem. Maybe it's not a severe one -- maybe not yet. Maybe developers can muddle through. Maybe, even everything is fine. For now.

      But complacency will always get you a kick in the ass by the next best thing in technology, and you can go from cutting edge to curdled milk in no time at all. Iconic brand names of even a few years ago are now nothing more than sign posts in the desert -- Compaq. E Machines. 3Com. They were once all major brands and now they're dust. If you want to stay on the leading edge, you have to push the boundaries. You have to innovate, improve, refine, create. You can't talk about "ecosystems" and "platforms" like they're going to just go right on existing on their own, like they're some timeless thing.

      They won't. Android will die someday; Everything does. The only question is how long it'll last -- and if you want that question to be "For a long time yet," then you best listen to the people who work with it every day and say "This is a problem." And you'd better answer back with something better than "No it's not." Address the problem now, while it's small... because trust me when I say... if there's one thing computers are good at, it's multiplying trouble. Exponentially. Don't wait. Fix it. Fix it now. Before you're sitting on the ruined throne of a kingdom of dust.

      • Re:Yeah. (Score:5, Informative)

        by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:19PM (#44245597)

        He never said it wasn't a problem. He simply stated it was overblown - ie, it's an issue, but not as big an issue as people (read: Apple and Microsoft) are making it out to be.

        • Re:Yeah. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:31PM (#44245685)

          He never said it wasn't a problem. He simply stated it was overblown - ie, it's an issue, but not as big an issue as people (read: Apple and Microsoft) are making it out to be.

          This,

          Fragmentation is a minor issue for developers, it only crops up when you're trying to do specific things. If you target Android 1.5 then it will work on versions 1.5 to current (4.2), however if you target 4.0, your application might not work on version 2.3.

          Thats the extent of fragmentation technical issues. For the consumer, Google Play filters incompatible applications for them.

          The big problem with fragmentation is that Apple and Microsoft have nothing worse to bang on about as Android eats their lunch.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            You had me until the last line. I don't think Microsoft has a lunch to eat here and Apple is still the one making the vast majority of the money. Quantity is a quality all its own, but come on?

            I saw this as someone who had an Android phone, liked it, but bought an Apple phone when it died. At full price (I was under contract with my carrier still) without a second thought. I'm not saying I'll never go back, but not at full price. And that's an important distinction, I think.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by macshit (157376)

              Apple is still the one making the vast majority of the money. Quantity is a quality all its own, but come on?

              Are they making the vast majority of money? There's a great deal of hardware competition in Android phones, which means no one manufacturer does the kind of volume Apple does, but many Android phones seem to have very similar hardware specs and very similar prices to the iPhone, and the overall volume of Android phones is greater than the volume of iPhones; in places like Japan, the overall volume of high-spec (iPhone or better) phones is probably greater than the volume of iPhones. Apple can profit some

              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                by mjwx (966435)

                , but many Android phones seem to have very similar hardware specs and very similar prices to the iPhone

                Not many.

                A lot of Android phones have similar spec's to the Iphone of the same vintage, some have better specs. However few are offered at the same extortionate price point. Even Samsung and HTC flagship phones are $1-200 less, something like the Nexus 4 was half the price.

              • Re:Yeah. (Score:4, Interesting)

                by Anubis IV (1279820) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:06AM (#44246909)

                I can't help but feel that you've been a bit out of touch with the market, since you've got facts wrong on both sides.

                First off, a correction in favor of Android and Samsung:

                There's a great deal of hardware competition in Android phones, which means no one manufacturer does the kind of volume Apple does

                Contrary to your statement, Samsung's volume is FAR greater than Apple's, though it's also split up over a greater number of models. As of April, they ship almost 2x as much [forbes.com], in fact. I do seem to recall seeing that the latest iPhone remains the most popular smartphone with the major carriers in the U.S., but if we're considering all smartphones sold, rather than just what's the single most popular model, and look at it on a global scale, Samsung is well ahead of Apple in terms of volume sold.

                And then, an answer to your rhetorical question that seems to be contrary to what you expected:

                Are they [Apple] making the vast majority of money?

                Last quarter (i.e. launch quarter for Samsung's flagship Galaxy S4) Apple only managed to bring in a paltry 57% of the profits in the global smartphone industry [allthingsd.com], with Samsung taking 43% (well, technically, LG came in at a hair under 1% if you look into the numbers carefully, but they got rounded out in most of the articles on the subject). Every other smartphone player is either break-even or losing money. The reason I call it "paltry" is because it's actually down from their high the previous year when they managed to capture 74% of the profits, leaving Samsung with 23%, HTC with 1%, and the rest at break-even or a loss. So, yes, to say the least, they are making the vast majority of money, though it's certainly not as vast as it was last year, since the gap has shrunk from 51% to 14%, mostly because Samsung has been doing very well and Apple has cut their profit margins by putting out devices with higher production costs (the iPhone 5 is notorious for being difficult to manufacture due to issues such as its micron-level tolerances during manufacturing and assembly).

                Anyway, there's definitely an argument to be made that the cheaper Android phones are winning massive amounts of market share, but it's like the old joke about the shop owners who are losing money on every sale but plan to make up for it on volume. The only winners in this are the ones selling the "high-spec" phones. The rest are trying to buy their way into third place and are paying for it out the nose.

            • by Shavano (2541114)
              Are you sure? Samsung has now overtaken Apple in smartphone revenue.
          • Re:Yeah. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by oursland (1898514) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:17PM (#44246297)

            Thats the extent of fragmentation technical issues.

            No, that's not correct; the problem goes further. On some devices things display differently, even though they have the same version of Android. On some devices you have access to audio/video codecs that aren't available on others.

            In the end, this lack of cohesion meant my company stopped developing their A/V application because there was too much variability, even when versions of the Android OS were the same. When this happens we lose out on a market, but the customers never get a chance to use and enjoy our applications.

            • by mjwx (966435)

              On some devices things display differently, even though they have the same version of Android. On some devices you have access to audio/video codecs that aren't available on others.

              No,

              This is when you target Android API's not vendor specific API's.

              So you really have just re-iterated my point. If you target ANDROID 2.2 it will work on Android 2.2 and above, if you target a SAMSUNG API, it may not work on HTC phones.

              • So what should one target when Android 2.x completely lacks an API that does close to what is needed?
                • by Xest (935314)

                  The same thing we've always done when developing on Windows, Linux, and even the web with browsers all of which have even greater degrees of fragmentation than Android even though we've never made much of a fuss about it on these other development platforms.

                  If you can't deal with this problem and think it's somehow unique to or worse on Android then you shouldn't be programming because your knowledge is insufficient to the point of being dangerous.

          • Re:Yeah. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by the_B0fh (208483) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:52PM (#44246493) Homepage

            So close, yet so far.

            Why do you think a developer would target 4.2 when he could get a bigger market if he targets 1.5?

            So what are the main reasons he would *NOT* target 1.5? If all a developer has to do is target 1.5, then why are all the android fanbois getting a boner whenever a new version comes out?

            Please sit and think for a while. There *IS* a fucking difference between 1.5 and 4.2. And the extra functionality is expressed by new APIs which make it simpler for the developer to write stuff, and interoperate with other stuff written to that set of APIs. What havoc would it be if everyone reimplemented their own SSL layer?

            If you think really hard, you may finally understand why it's fragmentation.

          • by Max Threshold (540114) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:52AM (#44247151)
            Fragmentation on Android is a huge problem. Each device manufacturer has their own slightly different version of the OS, each with its own set of issues and incompatibilities. Sure, they only crop up when you try to do specific things... like, say, open a Bluetooth socket.

            (I am an Android developer responsible for testing my company's product on dozens of different tablets.)
          • Re:Yeah. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @03:46AM (#44247953) Homepage

            Fragmentation is never ever going to be a problem for Android because 'specifically' it is a design feature, it's called choice. The only people who consider the choices available to manufacturers and customers in Android to be a problem are, tah dah, Apple and M$ and I'll let everyone guess why, with out bothering to state the obvious.

            Yes , oh my god, Android will fragment because it was bloody designed to do so. However the will be the main 'hmmm' tine (one word as good as any other) as governed by Google in this case, around which other manufacturers will base their fork, drift away from and drift back to based upon customer feedback. Google also has the opportunity to include bits and pieces from the forks back to the main tine.

            Choice, choice, choice, those choices the manufactures make with regard to Android and the choices in hardware it is used to control and how the customers alter their choices based upon product presentation, peer reviews and experience.

            Fragmentation in Android is a problem, and it is a problem for Apple and M$ because it allows multiple development streams which can test consumer reactions for far more rapid product development and implementation, as well as of course providing customers far greater choice and of course individuality. Apple and M$ phones for people who wish to conform to their overlord manufacturers choices, who wish to look and behave exactly like their overlords designed market segments, for people who like to have the choices made for them.

          • by Sockatume (732728)

            That's a clear disincentive for developers to bother with the APIs implemented in Android 4.0, no? Thereby a disincentive for Android apps to stay technically competitive.

            It's bad. How bad is an open question.

      • Re:Yeah. (Score:5, Informative)

        by LesFerg (452838) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @09:20PM (#44245937) Homepage

        Thing is, he's not wrong. Most consumers won't notice.

        I certainly noticed when Google Chrome would not install on my android 2.3 phone, which LG refuse to provide any further updates for.
        In fact Google seem to be the most inclined to produce apps which will only run on the latest version of android and bugger anybody who hasn't thrown out last years tech and bought something new.

  • BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @07:19PM (#44245189)
    The problem is NOT overblown at all. There is a serious problem when there are apps that require a specific android version or device and the numbers are increasing.
    • by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:58PM (#44245839)

      I have a still perfectly functioning ipod touch first gen where I can't basically reinstall any of the apps I own because the current versions of them in the app store are not compatible with my IOS version. If I decided to wipe it and resell it it would basically be a paperweight for anybody who purchased it as they would not be able to install anything on it.

      In the end companies should be free to EOL old versions of their OS, obviously, but there should be an official way to get versions of apps compatible with your old OS if the app existed already in the first place. If I have app foowiz 1.3 that runs just fine on OS 1.0 and recompile it to have a minor enhancement and the toolkit now makes it mandatory that I can support only OS 2.0 and up, there should be a way for OS 1.0 users to keep downloading 1.3 while everybody else moves to 1.4 and above.

      It would definitely be a lot more environmental to allow customers to keep using their old devices, or sell them (rather than tossing them) not to mention that it would make them more likely to buy more of your devices since they would trust that said devices would remain supported in the future.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        My exact situation. I have the 1st gen iPod touch and wanted to use it purely for a pocket calorie tracker for my father. Unfortunately after wiping it clean to give to him I hit this problem. The calorie tracking app I use (version available in the app store) won't install on the latest version if the OS for this thing. It is truly worthless to me now.

        Stupid.

      • by Moof123 (1292134) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:42PM (#44246445)

        Ipod Touch 1st gen came out in 2007, replaced in 2008 with second gen. So you have a 5-6 year old widget that is no longer supported, big whoop.

        The truly shameful thing about Android is that you can still buy brand new Android phones sporting 2.3.7 that were will NEVER be offered an upgrade despite being a malware magnet out of the box. Most iOS devices get several major upgrades, for years after they have been replaced, before being put out to pasture.

        I have a mix of iPods, iPads, and an Android phone, and frankly I have to say Apple does a darn good job avoiding fragmentation and avoiding the love'em and leave them feeling you get buying an Android widget. Apple is in real danger of being badly undercut thanks to their gouging for RAM and flash memory that has not budged over the time that prices have plummeted, and expectations of soared. I would like an iPhone, but frankly the level of gouging just goes too far for me to stomach.

        • Big whoop indeed. How often do you buy some expensive shit that doesn't work after only five years? A typical computer gets about a decade of support, that's what Microsoft does at least. Even then, once the official support runs out, you can still get software running on that computer. e.g. you can download tens of thousands MS-DOS apps and games, if that's what you want. That makes the 5-year-old gizmo less capable than a 386 which is a bit ridiculous.

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Big whoop indeed. How often do you buy some expensive shit that doesn't work after only five years? A typical computer gets about a decade of support, that's what Microsoft does at least. Even then, once the official support runs out, you can still get software running on that computer. e.g. you can download tens of thousands MS-DOS apps and games, if that's what you want. That makes the 5-year-old gizmo less capable than a 386 which is a bit ridiculous.

            Yes, but will a system from 2003 be as useful, even th

            • by danomac (1032160)

              Yes, but will a system from 2003 be as useful, even though the OS is still supported? Remember, you're talking about systems from the Pentium III era, 750MHz or less, with 512MB or less of RAM.

              Uh, maybe not such a good example. The first Pentium 4 [wikipedia.org] was released in 2000 and in 2002/03 it was very common to have a 1.6 GHz P4. These are still usable today. Sure, XP (which most of them would have come with) is only supported until April of next year, but there are alternate OSs out there that can still be used o

      • This is definitely a really shitty thing about iOS devices. I think the best solution is to jailbreak and download old versions of your apps from pirate sites.
      • by the_B0fh (208483)

        There are websites that keep archives of older versions of software. One of them may be of some use, but you'll have to learn how to install it from your computer (delete the actual file from your hard drive, replace it with the older archived version, let iTunes sync and install the older archived version to your iPod, done).

        Pain in the ass, but possible, if you had already owned that app.

      • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:45AM (#44247119)

        Two quick statements, and then the rest. First, I agree fully with your comment. Second, I disagree with your subject line entirely, since the OP was describing a completely different problem than the one you're addressing.

        I agree that OSes need to be EOL'd and that there's nothing wrong with companies doing so, but that it would be far better if they wouldn't take steps to obsolesce devices before their time by making it more difficult than necessary to continue using a perfectly functional device. That said, wouldn't you agree that there's quite a big difference between EOLing your iPod touch almost two years after it was no longer on sale, and what we see with many Android phones, where they're effectively EOL'd while they're still on sale? That's the sort of problem the OP was talking about, rather than the one you discussed.

        Your iPod touch:
          Last available for purchase in September 2008
          Came with the latest version of iOS at the time of purchase
          Capable of running the latest version of iOS until June 2010

        Contrast that with T-Mobile's Android offerings [t-mobile.com], all of which are available for sale today, yet only two of them (the Nexus 4 and the Galaxy S4) out of the fourteen listed will be running the latest version of Android when you open the box of your "new" smartphone. Some of them support upgrades, of course, but not all of them, and many of those that do offer upgrades only upgrade as far as 4.1.2, which hasn't been the latest version of Android since last November. I'm sure if I went poking around hard enough, I could probably dig up some 2.3 phones that are still being sold as new today too.

        So, yes, while both Android and iOS make it more difficult to use a perfectly functional, older device than it should be, the problem being addressed here is an entirely different one that Android bears.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Actually it really is. More than half of devices are on ICS or above. Most devices are on Gingerbread and above. NEARLY EVERY APP is capable of running on Gingerbread and above and those which aren't can opt to use a compatibility API or are likely trying to use a feature of the Android API to access a part of the phone that the Gingerbread user likely doesn't have (IR transmitter, NFC, hydrogometer etc).

      I never came across an app other than Chrome that didn't run on my Gingerbread phone, and when I finally

  • I disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by twistofsin (718250) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @07:22PM (#44245209)
    And I'm just an end user who owns both Android and iOS devices. When I see the disparity in app quality on both platforms, especially in games, and hear developers explain why Android is so much more difficult to work with I'm going to take it at face value.
    • by Tr3vin (1220548)
      The big issue with games on Android vs iOS is that Apple typically have very powerful hardware while Android devices for the most part don't. Then you have different GPU architectures, so what runs well on lets say a Adreno chip won't necessarily work on a Tegra one and vice versa. It really isn't all that different from what PC development is like if you are actually supporting Laptops & Desktops with varying chips and capabilities. I think you hear a lot of complaints from game developers because they
    • Re:I disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ark42 (522144) <slashdot@morpheu ... t minus physicis> on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:13PM (#44245569) Homepage

      As a developer, I can say hands down that iOS is WAY more difficult to work with than Android, for completely unrelated reasons. The whole fragmentation thing is more or less something I ignore. You have basically two choices: Program to a older API, and ignore all new features, or, Program to a newer API, and ignore all older phones. I've chosen to always target Android 1.6 and my apps always have no trouble running on new phones. I've seen a feature that only exists in newer APIs that I really can't live without, so I always code around anything that requires 2.2 or 4.0, etc. It's not a big deal at all, and all the documentation is very good about stating which API a function requires, plus the Eclipse IDE will automatically show warnings for anything you try to use if you declared a target API older than something requires.

      • can you confirm what I heard about newer versions of xcode making it impossible to write software that would still work on iOS 3.x and/or Apple making it impossible for 3.x apps to be listed in the app store? from what you are saying it seems android is more lenient about allowing you to target old devices.

        • from what you are saying it seems android is more lenient about allowing you to target old devices.

          They are, which is why software quality on Android lags iOS.

          Apple at the moment does not let you submit to the app store anything targeting anything under iOS5 (a somewhat recent change after 6.0 had been out for a while).

          This may mean some older devices drop out - but at this point the only devices out are some 1st gen iPod touches and the very first iPhone (not even the iPhone 3G which can run iOS5). That i

        • by alen (225700)

          why are you targeting iOS 3 when the iphone 3GS runs ios 6?

    • The problem with games is that they're more difficult to develop on a (DFSG) free software model than applications that are not games. Creating assets other than code costs money, and you have to recoup expenses somehow. The problem with paid apps on Android is that Android got launched in a lot of countries that didn't have Google Checkout yet, meaning the only way to get an app in front of users in those countries was to offer it without charge. This set an expectation among users even in other countries
  • by 0x000000 (841725) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @07:26PM (#44245229)

    but I as a developer sure do notice. The biggest issue I keep running into (developing backend software for my companies frontend software) is that testing on a mix of devices means learning the quirks for every single manufacturers user interface that they have bolted on top of Android. We've also had some weird issues based upon the Android version installed, across two devices with the same Android version number (4.0 for example) with the carrier/device manufacturers changes we have a bug on one but not the other.

    This is highly annoying.

    One issue that Android users hail as the greatest thing since sliced bread (alternate keyboards) actually meant having to write work-arounds because some keyboard implementations were simply broken, or actually caused issues with entering text in certain situations. An alternate keyboard shouldn't be able to have that sort of an effect!

    Fragmentation is real, and it is an issue. Consumers don't notice because they only use a single device, developers and power users that may switch more often than the average user will notice and it is an issue.

    • by hsmith (818216) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:31PM (#44245687)
      Exactly. Anyone who says fragmentation isn't an issue clearly isn't doing Android development.

      I find the platform a breeze to actually develop for. But, the issue is in testing and QA. The dearth of devices out there with hundreds of variations has created an unsustainable environment to deploy against.

      Google really should be pushing any manufactures that want to license the Android name to properly implement the APIs. Failing to do so is creating quite the issue.
    • by urbanriot (924981)
      If you hadn't written about this issue, I would have. There's nothing more frustrating than writing procedures for Android phones and users complain that the same exact version of the OS as another person has a different menu system, customized by the manufacturer. Even Samsung phones of the same exact OS version have a different menu structure.

      Fragmentation is entirely why we encourage our users to purchase iPhones as the documentation is easier to write and the phones are easier to support. The Blackbe
    • In general I've found iPhone to have about as many quirks per device/OS as Android, but the problem is Android has so many more versions, there are proportionally more things that can go wrong. I don't think anyone is trying to fragment the ecosystem, it happens on accident. And it happens more often on Android (because there are more models).

      My favorite example, which I've mentioned before, is the Kyocera Milano, which had a clock that actually went backwards from time to time.
  • Fragmentation also makes it more difficult, my guess is, for Google developers to upgrade core vanilla "Nexus" Android. They would have fewer options to change things as more and more phone vendor variants depend on particular feature sets in the core. Or conversely, variants will be inherently fragile and break / need re-engineering everytime Google ignores them and freely upgrades the core.

  • What improvements? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @07:31PM (#44245273)

    Google marketing: you botched this one. First you claim the improvements are amazing, then you claim most users don't even notice? Either the amazing features arn't getting used, or they are not better. Either way, I don't see how thats a good thing.

  • Google isn't responsible for the security of android OS phones. This results in many companies sacrificing the security of their users by not investing in real security maintenance for the devices. Hell, the NSA may even subsidize them financially for the 'work' of *not* fixing security issues.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I largely agree, but Google could implement finer grained permissions. Permitting an app to place calls in case you might ask it to do so in the future makes little sense. If I'm wanting it to make a call, I can approve the call. I shouldn't have to install LBE to give me those choices.

  • by horza (87255)

    I was happy with Android, I was even happier with the custom ROMs which got rid of the annoying quirks... then I found I was banned from downloading any adblock software from the Play store. I will shift myself and anybody I know off the Play store to an Android store that is not fatally crippled. Suggestions anybody? Amazon and the Samsung app store have nothing. I am really hoping this fragmentation with lead to some uncensored store that allows me to run software I choose to run.

    Phillip.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:12PM (#44245561)

    More accurate version: "Android co-founder says that users don't notice fragmentation, because OEM customizations make the phones shitty no matter what version they are."

  • Serious problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kbg (241421) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:27PM (#44245655)

    The problem is that most phone vendors (basically all except Google) never update the Android system after the phone is released. This means that there are millions of phones stuck on some ancient versions of Android but many apps for Android are targeted at specific version which are constantly getting higher and higher because Google keeps pumping out new versions of Android.

    • by mypalmike (454265)

      > The problem is that most phone vendors (basically all except Google) never update the Android system after the phone is released.

      Even Google doesn't keep Android up to date on older devices. The once-flagship Nexus One, introduced in 2010, only got official updates for about a year, taking it from version 2.1 to 2.3.6.

      • > The problem is that most phone vendors (basically all except Google) never update the Android system after the phone is released.

        Even Google doesn't keep Android up to date on older devices. The once-flagship Nexus One, introduced in 2010, only got official updates for about a year, taking it from version 2.1 to 2.3.6.

        That is a strange way of measuring time. It was launched January 10 and only had its operating system replaced 13th Novemer 2012...so Almost 3 Years, more than say an iPad.

  • by Fosterocalypse (2650263) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:41PM (#44245739)
    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/195310/Video_iOS_Android_myths_dispelled.php [gamasutra.com] Here is a post mortem from a game developer who released two mobile games on iOS and Android. He briefly explains that both of the games ran perfectly fine on all but 3 devices. They weren't targeting a specific version of Android. They're supported devices were over 1900 devices for each game. So the fragmentation isn't as big of an issue as Apple likes to talk it up to being. And after the T-Mobile announcement today the fragmentation should only get better from here.
  • by dudeman2 (88399) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:42PM (#44245745) Homepage

    As the owner of a non-upgradeable Android 2.3 phone (Motorola Defy XT [republicwireless.com]) I find that most apps I care about work fine on the phone... with the exception of all the new Google apps and updates to said apps.

    Google Maps
    GMail
    Google Now
    Chrome
    all of these apps are either not available, or are only provided in downlevel versions. You have to be running 4.x to get the latest and greatest apps.

    Meanwhile, Google produces versions of their apps to run on iOS 6, which is available on every iPhone back to the 3GS from 2009.

  • by csumpi (2258986)
    From the start Android was designed to support a variety of hardware, including screen resolution, screen aspect ratio, keyboards etc. On the other hand every time a new iDevice came out, Apple just made hacks to get them to work (eg. image for retina screen loaded by hard coded @2x at the end of the file name). There are 5 screens to support for iDevices, and it's a major pain in the arse. On android, hundreds of different screen configurations done very easily.
  • He's right. I've got five different Android devices, no two of which run the same version of the OS. But it doesn't matter to me for two reasons:

    When I browse the Play Store on each device, it filters the list for me and only shows me the apps I can run on that device. Problem Solved.

    Alternately, when using the Play Store web interface, it will tell me which of my devices can run a given app and let me fling the app to the device. Problem Solved.

    Maybe this is an issue for developers or people who are a

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...crashes, reboots, horrible bugs that render your device unusable.
    So, yeah, he's right, that one problem is not significant when compared to these.

  • by codemachine (245871) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:22PM (#44246325)

    Sure, Android fragmentation is a real issue. However, before Android, just about every phone manufacturer had its own operating system, and it was difficult to do development for.

    It isn't like if Android didn't exist, everything would just run iOS. If Android didn't exist, we'd likely have a situation where every vendor has their own entirely different platform. That'd be real fragmentation in the phone industry.

    Right now, Android is much like Windows. You don't know exactly what version a user will have, and what hardware and configuration they'll have, but at least there is a set of common APIs you can rely on. Thanks to majority market share, you can develop an Android app and get a massive chunk of the market, even if that app needs some code to deal with specific versions of Android.

  • You should be able to at least upgrade the O.S. on your given device. To me this is a very big deal.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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