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Fragmentation vs. Obsolescence In the Android Ecosphere

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the can't-do-what-you-can't-do dept.

Operating Systems 315

whisper_jeff writes "Engadget has an interesting article up discussing whether or not Android is fragmenting. While the article discusses the concept that it may be more about handsets becoming obsolete at a dramatic pace rather than the OS fragmenting, it also begins by noting that there are currently five different versions of Android on the market, which implies there is a notable degree of fragmentation. Regardless of it being fragmentation or handsets becoming obsolete to new feature sets in a terribly short period of time, I believe this development cycle could turn casual consumers away and hurt Android's chances for long-term mainstream success."

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Scared iPhone developer (3, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318174)

As an iPhone developer who would love to make the jump to include android I am very scared about the large mishmash of versions and hardware. Talk about a testing nightmare. Simulator testing is great but as we all know nothing beats the real thing. I don't feel like buying enough handsets to cover my desk.
I wouldn't be able to keep all the chargers straight anyway.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318226)

I don't feel like buying enough handsets to cover my desk.

I wouldn't be able to keep all the chargers straight anyway.

Just get a used vending machine, put each phone into a 'slot', attach the charger cord with a loose zip-tie and you're all set. Heck, if you set them each to cost $1 you'll save up enough for the next handset in no time ;-)

Re:Scared iPhone developer (5, Interesting)

Superken7 (893292) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318270)

Actually, you can build with a modern SDK while having a minSDK attribute set to 3 (android 1.5) so your app will be compatible with android >=1.5 (99.9% android phones are 1.5 or newer), and on 1.5 you can have access to so many things, it will be difficult to really have a need of doing something which is not possible.
Live wallpapers and maybe some advanced graphic functions will not be available, and the hardware of those "legacy" devices won't be able to handle that, anyways.

So there are only a few things left which are not possible, like account manager integration, the cool Log.wtf() function and a few more, but nothing extremely important, I'd say...

Re:Scared iPhone developer (2, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318336)

There's hardware heterogeneity issues also, though: some phones have multitouch and some don't, for example, and the processor speeds and screen sizes are different. Even for devices with the same sensors, the sensors can behave differently, e.g. what kind of control over the camera you have and what data it feeds you, and what the accelerometer's characteristics are.

Doesn't matter for a decent number of apps, but matters for, say, mobile games.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (5, Informative)

Cyblob (800812) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318408)

You can specify the hardware and software requirements of your app in the manifest file and it will not show up in the market for devices which do not meet the requirements.

You can be incredibly specific. If you app requires an auto-focus camera then you can specify that and it will only show up for phones which have one.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (4, Informative)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319168)

And then one person with Android A can download it and tells their friend with Android B about it. Android B user goes to the market place and can't find or download that app and gets pissed off. It happens more than you'd think with a friend of mine. He has an HTC, his wife a motorola with the keyboard so she can send 500 texts a day. They've come across several apps that will work on his phone, but she can't even find it in the market place.

As a developer, we're charging 4 - 5x's the price for an android app vs. an iPhone App. Reason being that Android is more expensive to develop for due to the number of phones on the market all with different OS & hardware specs. Since august of last year, we've spent over $6k now on Android and sets. To give you an idea, we spent $2500 from 2008 - present for iPhones and iPod touches.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32319266)

Hey troll. I see you're still on here telling your lies about how you can't write your fart apps without tacking on 4 times the iphone price. You are so full of shit it hurts.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32319564)

So the GP comes on here multiple times per day with the same schpiel about how he charges his "customer's" 4x for Android apps and how his friends can't install the same apps and one time he was talking about somebody he claimed to know in Australia that was having problems with their Android phone being locked down and when somebody finally just flat out calls him out as being full of shit about it all, that person gets modded flamebait? Get fucking real, people. I know this site has literally degenerated to nothing more than a fanboy warzone but, seriously, have a little bit of integrity. The GP is a phoney. It's too obvious that no one who is just a developer would dedicate the amount of time on this site just to slag a particular platform. No way in hell. I hate to say it but when I joined Slashdot 6 years ago, this was the premier place to talk about tech. But these days, I'm sad to say that between the constant fanboy mod wars, trollers, and astroturfers, some how some way, Digg has become a better place for actual tech insight. I never thought I'd see the day.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (-1, Flamebait)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319468)

what are you talking about? Nobody's gonna buy your app if it's that expensive. Sell it for free and people might download it. Again, I'm super skeptical that you're making anything worth a penny, even if you feel like charging for more.

Nobody supports your bullshit of "lets charge iphone app pricing". Even iphone app pricing is a ripoff.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32319338)

"You can be incredibly specific."
Exactly, meaning, you've just cut your audience to a fraction of the Market. Or, rather, a fragment of the Market.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318498)

As an iPhone developer, I think what I'd like most is for one or two models of phones to individually have huge sales so that I can focus only on them. One concern is that I haven't ever dealt with cell phone companies like Motorola and, from my experience as a customer, I have very little faith in them to keep the hardware updated or to release consistent lines of products over the years. What that leaves me with is either finding out my skepticism is wrong, or for Google's own phone(s) to become very successful. Either option seems unlikely, though I certainly hope Google has success; I can see the writing on the wall -- that Apple will soon make iPhone development so bad (along with the capricious App Store approval process are their questionable API changes that also rather conveniently impede cross-platform development) that I'll want out -- but the ease of a unified hardware+software platform will keep me sticking around.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319264)

I really suspect that Google's frantic pace on Android -- what the article says in increasing the rate of obsolescence (Yeah, I RTFA: bad slashdotter!) -- will push phone makers to deploy more generic Android images, meaning the carriers can update faster. Let's be honest: the carriers probably want that new version out more than the phone manufacturer, who is already developing new phones to sell.

I see it as the same kind of pressure that FOSS puts on OEMs to contribute patches back. Who wants to try to keep your own patch set?

LOL! No One Wants You Retard (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318346)

OMG!!! You're 'scared'!!!

What a fucking idiot. You won't be missed dipshit.

100,000 phones a day now for Android - 36 million phones a year.

Marketshare doubling every quarter.

2nd place in marketshare already.

50,000 apps already written for the platform.

Every major cellphone maker standardizing on the platform.

But oh noes!!! some fucking iPhone developer is spewing bullshit about his iPhone Fart App being developed on Android.

 

Re:LOL! No One Wants You Retard (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318490)

iPhone apps sell to a combined market of iPhones, iPod touch, and iPad.

There is little fragmentation on the iPhone market. 90% plus are running version 3.0 or higher.

RIM sales are larger than iphone but our iphone app outsells the RIM version by about 5 to 1. RIM users are just not as likely to buy apps. Android US sales are substantial but not yet clear of the trend going forward. It will be interesting to see how things shake out in one year or so.

Re:LOL! No One Wants You Retard (2, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319480)

fragmentation spells out one thing for Android: FUD.

it's called: we don't have anything else to complain about, so lets imply the shit is weak (when it's running quite strong and becoming way more polished than iphone).

But yeah, linux is uh, dying too! I mean, fragmentation!

Give me a break.

Re:LOL! No One Wants You Retard (4, Insightful)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318520)

I agree to some extent. Though I think it is a fools who runs in the sight of adversity. This doesn't mean that the environment is adverse, on the contrary, it is far from adverse. Engadget has no clue, they don't know what they are talking about. The Andriod is no more fragmented than Windows, the Mac OS, the iPhone, or any other. They are making much ado about nothing. Fire the editor for ruining the careers of the journalists by publishing this crap!

One has to expect fragmentation and that the fragmentation will decline as models age out. Those consumers that don't have a phone with touch will just give up the ghost and get a better more modern phone over time. Apples OS4 for the iPhone won't run on the first two generations of the hardware. The coming updates beyond OS4 will fragment the iPhone more, and that's coming from "one company".

Let's be real. The talk about fragmentation is a marketing ploy by the competition to keep developers and consumers from making the leap. An intelligent mind sees that fragmentation is everywhere from the desktop to the phone--in every device and in every OS.

Re:LOL! No One Wants You Retard (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318634)

Yes and no.

1- Android versions are coming faster than any other mobile OS, and OEMs are not great at making new version available for older phones. I'm not sure devices age out faster than new versions are coming out right now.

2- Android covers a huge variety of hardware platforms. CPU, screen size, multitouch, keyboard... not much can be taken for granted. The OS can only hide some of those disparities. Of course Android is not the only one with that problem, but they're having the more acute version of it. I kinda like that they're not getting MS'ed into slowing innovation for the sake of the installed base, but this may become an issue, still.

Re:LOL! No One Wants You Retard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318616)

This is flamebait, but accurate flamebait. Nicely done.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (1)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318448)

"as an iPhone developer"
You know, there are so many of you, it's not like anything out of the ordinary.
Everyone and their grandma develops for iPhone now.
In fact my grandma just submitted her third or fourth app with pictures of kittens.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (4, Interesting)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318514)

As an iPhone developer who would love to make the jump to include android I am very scared about the large mishmash of versions and hardware.

Dont be.

Fragmentation is mainly FUD. Android applications operate via the Dalvik virtual machine meaning the vast majority of applications will happily run on almost all hardware. Only when you start writing applications that require access to a version specific API does this become a problem, most of Android's API's are version agnostic. The simpler your application the fewer issues you will have with it, the so called "issue" of fragmentation is only true for the most complex of applications, if you are writing a simple XML parser then you wont have a problem.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (2, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318652)

The simpler your application the fewer issues you will have with it, the so called "issue" of fragmentation is only true for the most complex of applications, if you are writing a simple XML parser then you wont have a problem.

I think this is the whole point of the fear. When you invest in creating a complex app you want to know it's going to work for everyone. There's an inherently higher risk involved with developing for a platform with such varied hardware & software.

Saying that the fragmentation isn't an issue is glossing over the problem. Kind of like saying there's not fragmentation in desktop computers because you can run flash apps the same across different operating systems. Not every app developed is a fart soundboard.

This is Apple's most successful FUD astroturf (4, Insightful)

Concern (819622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318538)

The fascinating thing about "fragmentation" is that it's a problem we just made up. Apple's Mac line, let alone the Windows world, have more hardware and software diversity in one minute than Android has all year. Yet no one goes around suggesting that "fragmentation will hurt the PC market's long term chances of success."

This feels like a FUD bullet point created by an Apple astroturfing firm, whether it actually is or not. The whole "fragmentation" line of thinking presumes a world we have never had, and which I doubt anyone would willingly choose: one where a single manufacturer rules, producing a few nearly perfect products in a graceful, gradual schedule.

The funniest part is that this meme is useful for identifying people with no Android developer experience. After having used both the Apple SDK and the Android SDK pretty extensively, you can see why Android will win in the marketplace, and win so quickly. Never has there been such a beautifully organized, transparent, open, easy zero-to-development experience. In a world where most platforms don't even think about API versioning until it's too late, Android builds in an elegant management system from the beginning. "All 5" API revisions are accessible via a pullout menu. You default to the lowest, so that your app is compatible with all devices. Easy done.

And if you need something that a newer OS revision offers, everything about it makes it easy to target the minimum revision required.

The documentation is organized and straightforward. Running and debugging your app is a keystroke away, with a hardware-level emulator that's trivially configured to match whichever devices you prefer to test on - or all of them.

It's ironic, really. Hardly anyone has ever done such a good job of managing fragmentation, yet all this refinement for a platform that has less diversity (especially at this early point in its life) than almost any open platform I've seen that's this widely used.

In short, LOL.

Re:This is Apple's most successful FUD astroturf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318816)

Yet no one goes around suggesting that "fragmentation will hurt the PC market's long term chances of success."

Strawman: No one is arguing that because Android's market is fragmented, all cell phones (or cell phone OSes) are doomed to failure. I will mention that the last time I tried to use Linux on the desktop, given encouragement by the server admin friend at my old job, the Debian install had a problem handling my monitor made by the fairly well-known company Dell, and my experiment with Linux on the desktop ended when the admin said "Oh, you should try playing around with the hex values in this config file." That's the kind of fallout you get with fragmentation.

That's about all I have to say, as I've never developed for Android. I do wish Google the best on it, as I'd like there to be more competition among the mobile platforms for app development. (Apple's success only makes them bigger assholes, but iPhone/iPad is still the best option I see.)

Re:This is Apple's most successful FUD astroturf (2, Insightful)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319312)

Whether your hardware is supported by software or not has nothing to do with fragmentation of Linux. In fact, there is only one display / window system in serious use on desktop Linux (X.org). The display manager handles your monitor. Nothing else in the stack really matters.

Re:This is Apple's most successful FUD astroturf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32319472)

I've never developed for Android.

Why didn't you just start with that, so that I knew to ignore the rest?

I've done some development on Android (just small things, but it's apparently more than you). I haven't on iPhone. I can say that minus a few things I'm not a big fan of (like the app's icon always sitting there in several cases), but dealing with the "fragmentation" has not been a huge problem. Leads to having to do some workarounds or other options at times, yes. But that's almost my entire programming experience on any platform. Honestly, I consider expecting any less to be rather stupid.

Yet you won't see me saying a damn thing about developing for the iPhone, because I don't actually know!

Re:This is Apple's most successful FUD astroturf (1)

SoftwareArtist (1472499) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318894)

This is so true. It would be "fragmentation" if those different versions were all incompatible with each other. But they aren't. Each version of the OS maintains complete backward compatibility with all previous versions. If you want to make your app run on all versions, just write it for 1.5, and it will work perfectly on all later versions as well. If you really need a feature introduced in a later version, target that one and you'll know exactly what fraction of the potential market [android.com] you're excluding. Either way, you never need to write multiple versions of the app for different OS versions. That is not what I call fragmentation.

If you want to know what fragmentation is, look at Linux. I have to distribute separate 32 bit and 64 bit versions of my software, then discover it mysteriously segfaults when run under Ubuntu due to some subtle incompatibility between that and Fedora, which is what I compiled under. Very frustrating. If Linux managed its diversity half as well as Android does, that would be revolutionary progress.

Re:This is Apple's most successful FUD astroturf (0, Flamebait)

velen (1198819) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319030)

It has little to do with Apple. People are used to having their software up to date when they use smart phones. Android has plenty of defects in the earlier iterations that you need to develop work arounds for. The newer versions give much better functionality and performance, but if you are not able to develop your application for the newer platform, none of the benefits will pass on to the end user. While the iPhone apps keep getting better, Android developers will be catering to the least common denominator.

Re:This is Apple's most successful FUD astroturf (0, Flamebait)

KahabutDieDrake (1515139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319228)

You start by saying it has little to do with apple, and then close by saying that apple will "keep getting better". That's good I guess, because apple has a LONG way to go before their platform catches up. I know, you are probably thinking I'm crazy, but you'll see as time goes on. OOOOOOOOOOOOOHHH SHINY will wear off, and soon.

Also, I'm not sure why you think smart phone users are "used to having their software up to date".... WTF? Since when? I've got a treo 600 on my desk that hasn't had any updates in several years, and the only updates it ever got were ones I hacked in. I've got a drawer full of RIMs you can have, none of them get updates. Iphone/Android and a few earlier exceptions force updates on users, almost no other platform has done this in the past. You were LUCKY if you got updates. They were not a forgone conclusion, as they seem to be now.

Re:This is Apple's most successful FUD astroturf (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32319332)

The fascinating thing about "fragmentation" is that it's a problem we just made up.

Exactly. Too much dumbing down is also to blame here. Any competent developer should be able to easily structure his/her application so that it detects at runtime what feature set is available and then adjusts itself accordingly. The APIs are all there and they are very well done. It's not like it's even a problem.

And finally how is this different from Apple devices - some have cameras and some don't, some have bigger displays than the others, some will have front facing cameras and other won't etc. They deal with it via APIs and libraries - no big deal (With the iPad they failed - the iPhone Apps just look horrible on the iPad.). But for Android it becomes "FRAGMENTATION".

You know what lots of people wrote software for lots of Windows PCs - not every PC has a camera or not every PC has the same processor instruction set (SSE/3DNow etc.) - Devs just dealt with it via APIs - old craft. Now you could argue that leads to "poor user experience" but that doesn't mean everyone should sell their PCs with same configuration and branding. If anything the impact of diverse configurations has been minimal on the software adoption given PCs have the most software written for them.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318758)

I haven't done much Android development, but it's not as bad as it sounds. I started learning from a Android 2.1 book; all the sample code ran on a locked-down consumer 1.5 handset, 1.5 being the oldest version in common use. The one exception I found was a flag that told you if you were entering or leaving a given physical area didn't seem to be present on my 1.5 headset, but querying it didn't break anything.

Android versions are like .NET versions; you can change the one you want to target, and your code will be future compatible. If you require a specific OS feature (Oooh, they added a new photo gallery control in 1.6 that I must have!), you mark it in your application manifest along with any other requirements.

Constructing a layout is obnoxious, though. You lay out controls kind of like building a webpage, using an XML syntax to define the controls you have and how they "flow" on a screen. For most cases, different screen sizes and orientations won't matter.

I can't speak to how much real-world testing is necessary, as I've only developed on two phones. However, the emulator that comes with the SDK is really quite good, if very, very slow. You can pick arbitrary screen sizes and layouts, the presence/absence of any feature you can think of (SD card, GPS, clicky-ball thingy, OS version, screen size) and see how your app looks. You can even test GPS applications by feeding the emulator specific coordinates or path to follow.

Debugging is easy - connect your phone via USB and press the compile or debug button in Eclipse. It'll show up as a target device, along with any emulator images. You'll be able to do all the normal debugger stuff as your app runs/doesn't run/hits breakpoints/crashes on the device.

If you're considering trying it, download the vanilla version of Eclipse if you don't have it, get the Android SDK, and try "hello world" on the emulator. It's pretty nifty.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318918)

As an iPhone developer who would love to make the jump to include android I am very scared about the large mishmash of versions and hardware.

If that scares you, PCs must be your worst nightmare. Android is a monoculture by comparison.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (1)

Cloudwalking (1210878) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318960)

I stated this same concert at the Android Fireside Chat during Google I/O. The Android team responded that really only two devices are needed for testing, a high DPI (Nexus, Evo, etc) and a medium DPI (G1). Beyond that, everything that runs on one should run nearly the same on the others. Speed is a different thing, but all the new Android phones are pretty damn snappy. Especially with Froyo.

Re:Scared iPhone developer (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319446)

maybe you should try looking. the shit is quite well documented and not at all as complex as your spin is implying.

It's Early In Android's Market Life (1, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318200)

These "growing pains" need to be worked out, but app developers will quickly learn to check versions at runtime to make sure most of their features will work in older (or newer) versions of Android.

Apple took care very well from the start, but they've had lots of consumer software experience. Goole & Android will get their act together ... it will just take a little time.

Re:It's Early In Android's Market Life (4, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318292)

These "growing pains" need to be worked out, but app developers will quickly learn to check versions at runtime to make sure most of their features will work in older (or newer) versions of Android. Apple took care very well from the start, but they've had lots of consumer software experience. Goole & Android will get their act together ... it will just take a little time.

I thought Apple's approach was to strictly control both the hardware platform and the developer's tools, both to ensure they will work together and also to make it highly inconvenient for developers to port their apps to other platforms like Android. That sounds like marketing and vendor lock-in experience. The term "software experience" seems to suggest that they have tackled the complexity involved with developing for diverse systems instead of avoiding it.

Re:It's Early In Android's Market Life (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318344)

I thought Apple's approach was to strictly control both the hardware platform and the developer's tools, both to ensure they will work together and also to make it highly inconvenient for developers to port their apps to other platforms like Android. That sounds like marketing and vendor lock-in experience.

Most app features will work on most iProducts ... but not all. When iPhone 4.0 comes out this summer some of the newer features won't work on earlier handsets (ie, multitasking won't work on a 3G or earlier handsets). Yes, Apple is evil for their lock-in, but I was referencing the article's main subject, which is fragmentation & obsolescence due to handset and OS vertsions.

The term "software experience" seems to suggest that they have tackled the complexity involved with developing for diverse systems instead of avoiding it.

Their Macintosh consumer software experience. They've had a lot of years of practice making sure most, but not all, software runs on older (and newer) versions of their Mac OS. That experience translates directly to making sure the same thing happens on the iProduct lines.

Re:It's Early In Android's Market Life (0, Troll)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318450)

Nothing in 4.0 will work in handsets earlier than the 3G because they won't be building 4.0 for those devices at all.

Re:It's Early In Android's Market Life (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318302)

"...app developers will quickly learn to check versions at runtime to make sure most of their features will work in older (or newer) versions of Android."

AFAIK, they already do. You declare the minimum API version in the application manifest. All Android versions in use today (1.5 and upwards) are backward-compatible, so if you as a developer wants to maximise the number of users is to target the lowest version that still supports the features your app needs. Which, for most of them, is any version currently in use.

Re:It's Early In Android's Market Life (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318314)

I think Android will end up thrashing its problems out probably by the end of this year, or first quarter of 2011, as the OS goes from having to be deployed as fast as possible to get marketshare before Apple locks down the market like they did with MP3 players, to changing to a mature app platform that is decently supported across handset makers and cellular carriers. Android 2.2 has taken some steps to get there, but what it will take is getting to where the iPhone OS is right now when it comes to encrypting user data.

Android still lacks some important features before it can make inroads into lucrative markets such as businesses (which buy smartphones by the thousands.) The first is true SD card encryption. Yes, apps on the SD card are encrypted in Android 2.2, but what is needed is encryption of any files the device plops onto the memory card, and to have this able to be enabled via the Exchange server. There is also the need of having other security features, such as erasing the device if someone guesses the PIN too many times, or if the SIM card gets swapped out to an unauthorized one. If this can be done, Android may start nudging the crufty (but secure and reg compliant) Windows Mobile devices out of the business sector.

My hope is that by the time Android gets this functionality, there will be devices that will not just support rooting, but be able to be custom flashed. As time goes on, devices are becoming more and more modder and rooting hostile. If this is the case, I really hope Google offers an ADP3 or ADP4.

Re:It's Early In Android's Market Life (1)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318566)

You make some good points but you yield too much success for Android to the business market. Far more consumers use cells than business does, if not thousands to one then millions to one.

Re:It's Early In Android's Market Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32319198)

Yes consumers use a lot more cellphones than business. but the smartphone segment is still pretty well dominated by businesses. That's why RIM is still winning the smartphone market pretty handily.

Re:It's Early In Android's Market Life (1)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318532)

And Apple's computers and other consumer devices, including the iPhone are fragmented. Please stop using them as a bastion of solidarity.

Flash has had the same problems (5, Insightful)

SavedLinuXgeeK (769306) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318204)

The flash runtime has experienced the same problems as it was a developing platform. Flash 8,9 and 10 are all still in use today and have different feature sets and programming models. I realize the analog is slightly different as android is an OS and not a runtime, but the fact remains that progress requires this. We as geeks bemoan long development cycles and slow progress. Well the way to get around slow progress is quick iterations, and that gets to you to fragmentation. Adobe has realized this and their rate of development has slowed as they have stabilized on where they want the platform to go. Give android a year or so, and once Google realizes where it wants android to go, the iterations should slow down dramatically, and fragmentation will be a thing of the past.

Latest Apple Fanboy Press Talking Point (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318396)

There is no 'problem'.

The only people you hear spewing this bullshit are Apple fanboys in the media and Apple fanboys in forums who are desperate to spread whatever the latest Apple Android FUD talking points.

They gave up on the 'more apps' talking point after seeing the insane growth rate of Android apps and everyone started laughing at the idiotic iPhone owners who could never name these 'amazing' and 'magical' iPhone apps that you simply had to have an iPhone to make it through your day.

'teh fragmentation' is all Apple fanboys have left to spew. Google kicking Apple into distant third place has got the Hipster Douchebags into a desperate frenzy.

Fucking awesome to watch these loser's world be rocked by Android and Google.

Re:Latest Apple Fanboy Press Talking Point (1)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318590)

I would have to agree, though I wouldn't have stated it so aggressively.

Yes, the competition is the one spearheading this talking point. I wrote in an earlier post that it might be justified to fire the editor for ruining the career of the journalist by allowing this sort of article to be published. Maybe the journalists that are serious about their careers should look harder before agreeing to write such crap.

Re:Latest Apple Fanboy Press Talking Point (0, Troll)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319494)

yay!!
you are my hero!

Re:Flash has had the same problems (3, Informative)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318454)

The flash runtime has experienced the same problems as it was a developing platform. Flash 8,9 and 10 are all still in use today and have different feature sets and programming models.

With Flash I doubt that the features added between Version 8 and Version 10 were natural progressions and refinements of the concepts and principles on which that system is based. Instead, I see them as "we gotta give our customers a reason to buy the latest version so let's add more bloat!"

We as geeks bemoan long development cycles and slow progress.

It depends on how sound and useful the initial design was. The POSIX standard has a slow development cycle. So does the X Windowing Protocol. I haven't seen many fundamental innovations for the TCP protocol lately either. I have seen bugfixes and things of that nature, but not much bloat and feature creep. For those things, the design closely matched the intended purpose and philosophy and there was little or no marketing pressure to always have something new to sell. I think it's precisely because those things are the concern of geeks and are the "under the hood" type of thing that average end-users wouldn't directly work with. Things like Flash animations and iPhones are much more visible and immediately practical for average users and there we see marketing pressures and faster developments.

Adobe has realized this and their rate of development has slowed as they have stabilized on where they want the platform to go.

I think what Adobe has realized is that the proposed video functions of HTML5 could be a direct threat to their little proprietary standard fiefdom and that vendors like Apple have some good (business) reasons not to use their products. I think that would get them to concentrate on something more substantial than more bells and whistles and put pressure on them to produce a good, solid runtime. The only thing I wonder is whether they are prepared to address the absolute joke that Flash has been when it comes to security. It's easily up there with Sendmail and BIND so far as track records are concerned.

Give android a year or so, and once Google realizes where it wants android to go, the iterations should slow down dramatically, and fragmentation will be a thing of the past.

I hope so. The closed nature of Apple's products is my biggest single problem with them. Most users don't care so there is little reason for Apple to see this as a problem. Therefore, what it would take to change that would be another company (like Google) who can give them serious competition without such tactics.

I realize the analog is slightly different as android is an OS and not a runtime, but the fact remains that progress requires this.

Conscious or subconscious, that looks to me like what you realize is that some Slashdotters love to attack you based on things you never actually claimed. Had you omitted that line, I could see them now, the follow-up posts saying "huh huh, an OS is not a runtime, therefore you don't know what you're talking about and you're wrong and I'm right so hah!" The way I explain it is that if I didn't explicitly outright claim something, it's for a reason and is not the product of random chance.

My approach to those would-be killjoys for whom feeling superior to somebody is more important than reading comprehension is different. I refuse to add little disclaimers like that because for more nuanced posts, those would be longer than the point I am making. I also refuse to do it because I won't cater to maladaptive behavior that disguises itself as useful critique. Instead, I let them try that on me and then show them why it was useless.

Re:Flash has had the same problems (1)

SEE (7681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318654)

The POSIX standard has a slow development cycle. So does the X Windowing Protocol.

The X Windowing Protocol went through 11 incompatible versions in its first three-and-a-half years. So by comparison, Android is downright stodgy.

Re:Flash has had the same problems (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319186)

The POSIX standard has a slow development cycle. So does the X Windowing Protocol.

The X Windowing Protocol went through 11 incompatible versions in its first three-and-a-half years. So by comparison, Android is downright stodgy.

Not to be nit-picky but this situation calls for it: saying it "has" (present tense) a slow development cycle is not a claim that this has always been the case since its inception.

Android 2.2 helping with this? (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318206)

I think if handset makers and carriers can do this, getting Android 2.2 as a baseline onto all devices might be what the doctor ordered for this.

The main reason is not just JIT compiling, nor the ability to run apps on the SD card (which is important for older phones). Instead, Android 2.2 offers a lot more modular upgrade path, where before devices in previous versions would have to be completely reflashed just to support one item.

Time will tell if 2.2 gets adopted, or if we still have the version fragmentation issue in the future.

Re:Android 2.2 helping with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318364)

HTC has said that devices made in 2010 will be getting 2.2 however older devices will not. I'm not sure about other manufacturers though.

The community will probably pick up the slack and get 2.2 onto the more popular "old" devices.

Re:Android 2.2 helping with this? (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319402)

That works for the geeks, but the casual user is going to get frustrated that he has to buy a new phone to get all of the things that his friends get merely by updating. HTC makes some excellent phones, but their business model is based on a significant portion of their users buying phones more rapidly than every two years.

Obsolescence Is Obsolete (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32318242)

I remember a time when people complained about desktop computers becoming obsolete too quickly. I also work at a local PC repair shop where I see and fix computers daily that have slower processors and less RAM than the Droid Incredible, sometimes some that are lower spec'ed than the Droid Eris. I'll believe in handsets becoming obsolete when I see Android fail without any other explanation. (and I thought I heard somewhere that Android is doing very well for itself (http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/10/05/10/195251/Android-Sales-Surpass-iPhone-Sales?art_pos=11))

Words of Wisdom (3, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318244)

With apologies to... Henry Spencer [wikipedia.org] :

"Those who fail to understand apt-get are condemned to re-invent it, poorly."

The Stupid. It Burns. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318428)

My god are you a fucking idiot.

After a decade plus of reading Slashdot and hardcore trolls trying to outdo each other with the most idiotic posts, out of the blue some fucking moron like you posts something that fucking stupid.

 

Re:The Stupid. It Burns. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318478)

then you raised the bar again.

Awww, So Cute! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318510)

Awww, what a cute liddle attempt at a flame!

Re:Awww, So Cute! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318540)

WILL YOU SUCK MY PENIS?

Re:Awww, So Cute! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318614)

WILL YOU?

Re:Words of Wisdom (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318876)

Someone want to explain to me what makes this "Interesting?" Or for that matter, what makes it at all relevant...

Re:Words of Wisdom (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32319396)

Me fucking your mom's stank-nank is always relevant.

Re:Words of Wisdom (4, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319506)

Someone want to explain to me what makes this "Interesting?" Or for that matter, what makes it at all relevant...

Because the people providing the operating systems for mobile devices are discovering, to nobody's surprise but their own (and apparently yours), that being able to manage and maintain a software base over a diverse number of architectures and platforms is a non-trivial task.

In my professional experience, the inventors of apt-get were the first to create an adequate means of maintaining a largely stable system, managing compatibility and dependency issues over tens of thousands of applications, utilities and drivers.

The implication of my statement, therefore, is that Google should be giving more thought to package management issues as a means of reducing their own software maintenance overheads.

Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen in any useful way, because all the phone suppliers only dream of being Apple, so they're intent only on controlling every means of access to the apps and other software that runs on their phone.

Therefore, these vendors - who fail to understand why apt-get is important - are condemned to creating their own proprietary update services and interfaces, and because they are neither unified nor open, it's quite likely that each of them will get it wrong in unique and entertaining ways.

That one little sentence took a bit of unpacking, but there you go.

HTH, HAND.

That depends, really... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318250)

Arguably, there are two broad classes of users/applications for Android: the ones that need a cheap phone OS that sucks less than your average "dumbphone" or "featurephone" OS(both in terms of general usability, and in terms of the dev team's ease of getting things going) and the ones who want an "Android smartphone", and wish to run "Android applications" on it, and so forth.

You would expect the former group to be heavily fragmented; but for that fragmentation not to matter very much. For any device where Android is simply being used as a cheaper or easier alternative to a dumbphone/featurephone OS, or even to some other embedded operating system(as with a cheap digital photoframe or GPS or something), the version, and most likely the applications, the device ships with will be the ones it dies with. Fragmentation will be inevitable; but also won't matter much(upgrades will generally not be expected, outside of a few tinkering geek who can roll their own, device developers will use the Android version of their choice when developing. No big deal.)

The trickier case is the part of the market that directly competes with iPhones. Here, updates are generally expected, adding applications and having things work is a prerequisite for success, and fragmentation is a bad thing. Google's own blessed handsets seem to be avoiding this reasonably well(within the limits of hardware advance. The G1 is starting to show its age; but so is the gen-1 iPhone); but some of the tier-2 carrier stuff is looking a little more doubtful.

Personally, I suspect that the critical thing will be whether or not expectations are correctly matched to devices. Having more or less fixed-spec "featurephones" being based on Android isn't bad for Android unless those phones are then sold to unwitting buyers as being equivalent to the high-end, frequently updated, fully app-compatible "Android Phones". If they are just sold as featurephones with decent browsers and mail clients, no harm, no foul. If they are (essentially dishonestly) sold as cheaper-but-equivalent alternatives to the properly updated Android devices, there will be a lot of unhappy customers stuck with outdated firmware.

Consumers don't care. Developers get a bum deal (3, Insightful)

eparker05 (1738842) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318262)

My Droid Eris was on Android 1.5 for the last several months and I noticed very few differences between it and my father's Droid with 2.0. Yea he had voice nav, and he got live wallpapers when the 2.1 rolled out, but the core features that made me love the OS were largely identical (push gmail, widgets, great web browsing experience, etc.).

The only people to be hurt by the 'fragmentation/obsolescence' issue is developers. I don't want to downplay the developer issue, but as far as consumers are concerned , most of the big-time apps have no trouble supporting multiple iterations of the platform.

Re:Consumers don't care. Developers get a bum deal (1)

furball (2853) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318522)

most of the big-time apps have no trouble supporting multiple iterations of the platform

So it's a real problem to some big-time apps. This may also limit how many apps become big-time apps.

Re:Consumers don't care. Developers get a bum deal (5, Interesting)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318848)

The only people to be hurt by the 'fragmentation/obsolescence' issue is developers. I don't want to downplay the developer issue, but as far as consumers are concerned , most of the big-time apps have no trouble supporting multiple iterations of the platform.

On the contrary, please do downplay the developer issue. Obviously, it matters a great deal to us as developers, but the purpose of hardware and software -- at least in the commercial market -- isn't to please developers, it's to please customers so they'll give money to the companies that employ the developers. If enough customers want a device that requires the developers to read documentation in cuneiform and write code in assembly language, then we'll be reading documentation in cuneiform and writing code in assembly language, or the software companies will find someone who will.

Don't get me wrong; *I* care about these issues as much as the next developer. But nobody but us cares about these issues or what we think about them. For the vast majority of us who don't work at mythical miracle companies that actually give a wet crap what their programming staff thinks, we'll end up coding for whatever platform the bean counters and bizdev monkeys decide is going to sell. And if they're wrong -- a decision that's ultimately going to be made by consumers with even less technical knowledge than the bean counters -- then we'll end up working on something else, possibly at another company if the last one didn't have enough capital reserves to withstand a product failure.

That being the case, the author of TFA is either out of touch with the reality of the industry or, as several posters have suggested, this is just astroturf FUD designed to scare consumers away by using long, scary words -- like fragmentation, for example -- whose meaning they don't know, just as most of them probably have no idea what an operating system is or that Android is an OS. I'd be willing to wager a decent chunk of change that most non-technical customers would read the headline and the first couple of sentences of TFA -- they're certainly not going to read the whole thing -- and conclude that the gist of the article is that Android phones are more likely to physically break into little bits than iPhones.

Re:Consumers don't care. Developers get a bum deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318882)

I don't think you're getting the point here though... the point is how do the developers know which platform version to shoot for?

How much ram does your lowest common denominator device have? How much storage? What APIs are safe vs what are not.

Wait for the tech support complaints to come in when "app XYZ is too damn slow" on my android phone, or "you said it would work"

These are not insurmountable things, but Apple developers have basically 2 platforms... iPhone and iPad. Both are the same APIs, only differing if you want to do OpenGL. If you have a really intense CPUbound or graphics bound app, you might also have to check for CPU speed to lower the quality slightly for G1 iPhones.

Re:Consumers don't care. Developers get a bum deal (1)

eparker05 (1738842) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318956)

I would have thought that the last 20 years of desktop OS programming would have taught programmers how to deal with the fact that not every customer has an identical piece of hardware. I'm sure it makes it marginally harder when you aren't programming for a completely homogeneous platform, but it's not a new paradigm.

This isn't Google's fault... (4, Insightful)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318282)

...But is phone manufacturer. If you make the phone and it just runs a vanilla Android OS, then you can theoretically push the update out without too much pain. The problem comes from the phone manufacturers who are trying to "improve" the OS by adding things like Sense UI and Motoblur. Yeah, some of these improvements are better, but others aren't any better than what comes in vanilla, and even more are worse. The fact that the modding community can turn on OS around in a few weeks and push it back out to the device is testament to how easy it is to put these newer versions of software on the phone, and it just the manufacturers trying to add their own crap back on that is the issue.

Re:This isn't Google's fault... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318598)

Oh really, is that why Google stopped supporting HTC Dream in new versions of Android less than a year after the phone's release? As far as I know, HTC Dream ran a vanilla Android.
HTC Dream was released in october 2008. Android 1.6 in september 2009. If they want to keep obsoleting their phones at this rate, they can shove them.
And it's not about aftermarket firmware, naturally if the device is cool enough, there will be lonesome hackers that want to play with it for longer than 15 minutes. But that doesn't change how Google is pissing in the owners' general direction.

Re:This isn't Google's fault... (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319404)

The Dream was the reason that Google contracted the Nexus -- The Dream was underpowered even when it was released. Are you surprised that it can't handle an upgrade?

Re:This isn't Google's fault... (1)

mmurphy000 (556983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318662)

The fact that the modding community can turn on OS around in a few weeks and push it back out to the device is testament to how easy it is to put these newer versions of software on the phone, and it just the manufacturers trying to add their own crap back on that is the issue.

It is not that simple.

As just one example, ROM modders are willing to put up with "brick rates" that would result in class action suits if a device manufacturer and carrier tried the same thing. A 99% success rate -- which a ROM modder would probably consider to be pretty good -- would still mean in excess of 10,000 bricked G1s, 10,000 bricked Magics, etc. ROM modders simply are willing to use techniques (e.g., re-partitioning flash) that device manufacturers deem too risky. Hence, device manufacturers and carriers elect to be more conservative, so they do not wind up with millions of dollars in extra support costs.

Applying HTC Sense and MOTOBLUR and such to new Android releases does indeed involve work, and that definitely has an impact on upgrade availability. But it's not the whole story. Some of the reasons are good for consumers (e.g., minimizing bricked phones), and some of the reasons are bad for consumers (e.g., emphasizing new products at the expense of old).

Re:This isn't Google's fault... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32319078)

But the reason that the modders do things the way they do them is because that's the only way they know how. The manufacturers who actually know how to do it properly and don't have to work around the protections that are put in place to prevent modders from doing their thing.

Re:This isn't Google's fault... (1)

mmurphy000 (556983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319378)

There is no "properly" in some cases, for an upgrade to be sufficiently reliable.

iPhone fragmentation (4, Insightful)

kroyd (29866) | more than 3 years ago | (#32318300)

I've got an 2G iPod touch, with iPhone OS 2.x. This means there is software that simply won't run because it is not an iPhone (such as Sleep Cycle), and software which won't run because it is not the 3.x version of the OS (games - at least the Street fighter demo and some others). With an iPod Touch you have to buy the OS upgrades, which I haven't bothered to do.

By this summer you'll have to support the 1G, 2G and 3G versions of the iPod touch, the 1G, 2G and 3G iPhones, the 3G iPhone with more RAM and a faster processor, and the 4G iPhone with both more RAM and a higher resolution. Oh, and the iPad of course.

The biggest new challenge with "iphone 4g" is the higher resolution - some say this will be 960x640 (i.e 2x the current resolution hor/ver), which is imho unlikely as this would be the first use of such a LCD resolution ever.

To me this doesn't sound simpler than the Android fragmentation, at least with Android the market lets you know which apps you can install, and the vast majority actually works with 1.5. With the Appstore you might only get "oh, don't install this on an iPod touch, it won't work".

Android is also more developer friendly, e.g. the new feature introduced just before the 2.2 release - at least my N1 got a "report this crash button" before I upgraded to 2.2. (I don't want to speculate on the developer friendlyness of Apple, but recent news haven't been very good.

Re:iPhone fragmentation (1, Flamebait)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318312)

"you have to buy the OS upgrades, which I haven't bothered to do"

$5 is that tough to part with?

Re:iPhone fragmentation (1)

fandingo (1541045) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318660)

Exactly. iPhone upgrades have always been free, so developers only need to target the current major version. iTunes prompts for upgrades whenever one is released, so it would be nonsensical to run an old OS. For iTouches, if someone won't pay for a $5-$10 (I think they are $10) upgrade every six months or so, then as a developer, why should I care about them? If my app is free, then there is no expectation that I spend extra work supporting legacy systems, and if it costs money, then why do I care about the cheapskate who won't buy a very reasonably priced upgrade? People who won't buy upgrades won't pay for apps either.

Apple's commitment to iPhone upgrades is the reason I stick with the platform. Yes, there are things that I'm not happy about, but honestly look at how much the platform has expanded since it was released. I bought a 1st gen iPhone and comparing the features today with when I bought it is really impressive.

Re:iPhone fragmentation (1)

Stickybombs (1805046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318676)

I'm in the same boat on this one. It isn't so much that $5 is a whole lot to part with, it is the principle of the thing. I don't feel that I should have to pay for a patch, or a service pack, or whatever other name you want to give it. With the earlier upgrades, much of that functionality should have shipped with the device, not been added later and then charged for. The vast majority of other hardware and software give you free updates once you have made the original purchase. Why should this be any different?

Re:iPhone fragmentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32319388)

Especially after all the crap we get from kool-aid addicts about how Apple isn't making any money with their 30% vig, that the AppStore is a loss leader, and they make it all on the hardware.

Re:iPhone fragmentation (3, Informative)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319248)

With an iPod Touch you have to buy the OS upgrades, which I haven't bothered to do.

Not if you know where to download the appropriate ipsw file (from Apple's own CDN servers no less!). Google is your friend here.

Re:iPhone fragmentation (0, Redundant)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319270)

I know we're dropping 1G iPhones and iPhone OS 2.x when the 4G comes out. By that time, the original iPhone users will likely have upgraded with new contracts. It makes the SDLC easier to adapt to as we've had a planned EOL schedule for over a year now with legacy iphone apps.

We've been developing for Android for a year now and we've gone from two versions to now 5 different OS's in 12 months. We've bought about $2500 worth of iPhones and iPod Touches since 2008. We've spent over twice that since august of last year. And while it may be "developer" friendly, it's not nearly as QA testing friendly thanks to all the different devices from different manufactures with different hardware features and different UI specs.

Andy Rubin's Bullshit (2, Insightful)

mveloso (325617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318328)

"Andy's point was simple. Older Android devices that can't be upgraded to newer versions of the OS or run newer apps are no different than an iPhone from 2007 not being updated to OS 4."

Rubin obfuscates the problem by trying to simplify things, which is working. The issues:

* my android device can't be upgraded
* my android app don't work on x version of android
* my android app doesn't work on y version of hardware

iPhone 4.0 is irrelevant, since it doesn't exist yet. And it is not like iPhone 3Gs not moving to iPhone 4. It's more like an app on an iPhone 3G with iPhone OS 2.0 can't run iPhone OS 3.0 because (a) the device itself can't be upgraded to iPhone OS 3.0, and/or (2) because iPhone OS 3.0 isn't backwards-compatible with iPhone OS 2.0.

I have plenty of iPhone apps that were first-generation that still work. That sounds like an unlikely situation in the android world. I also have apps that work on all versions of OS and hardware. I have a few that require specific features (GPS) that don't exist on 1.0 hardware...so obviously don't work on newer devices. I had a few apps (WiFi scanners) that died under OS 3.0 that used to work.

It sounds, however, that compatibility across android and handset versions is not only not guaranteed with android, but that the incompatibility is to be expected...according to their chief architect.

Nice.

Re:Andy Rubin's Bullshit (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318382)

It seems some of Jobs hard headedness could be for a good reason.....maybe.

Re:Andy Rubin's Bullshit (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318610)

* my android device can't be upgraded
* my android app don't work on x version of android
* my android app doesn't work on y version of hardware

Interestingly, if Android were something like... say GPLv3, so that end users could update the OS, and if you had a compelling enough app, I think that you could then get people to upgrade their phone OS in order to run the new versions of your application.

Certain issues, for example lack of an accelerometer or a GPS unit, are insurmountable. You'll just have to suck it up and deal with those hardware revs in your builds, or indicate that you're not officially supporting that hardware anymore.

It sounds, however, that compatibility across android and handset versions is not only not guaranteed with android, but that the incompatibility is to be expected...according to their chief architect.

Nice.

Android isn't there to hold your hand as a developer or to hold the hand of the manufacturers. I mean, you get what you get.

Unfortunately what end users get is an open platform that the hardware manufacturers and networks have tweaked slightly, then locked down. And guess what? The end users get screwed over again because the networks and hardware manufacturers benefit more from attracting new customers or offering newer, sexier phones.

I'm really hoping that we won't have the same problem with MeeGo, but I'm not betting on it. The networks just love being able to lock people in, and I don't see that business model going away anytime soon.

Did you actually *read* the article? (2, Informative)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319538)

Silly question I know, but reading your post just makes its title look all the more ironic.

Hardware and legacy-OS "fragmentation" exists today in the iPhone ecosystem - nearly half [ilounge.com] of iPod Touches are running older systems, and there are already iPhone owners who will never be able to upgrade to OS 4 (even the beta). It's obviously greater in Android due to the larger choice of hardware and more rapid OS releases. Some may prefer a slower-moving target, but the monolithic, our-way-or-the-highway approach that's required to achieve this has too many well-documented [brightsideofnews.com] disadvantages [neowin.net] to be suitable for everyone.

[Backwards compatibility] sounds like an unlikely situation in the android world

That's just plain uninformed. No APIs have been revoked or broken; the only 1.0 apps that don't work today are the ones that did naughty, undocumented things - like any other platform. In fact, Android's VM model, excellent API version management and Marketplace manifest model make it easy to allow apps to run on any version of Android they can manage, or to target the app at whatever specific set of hardware features are required, making forward compatibility far less of an issue that for e.g. Linux or Windows (can't speak for iPhone OS personally). And Rubin points this out.

Android 2.2: Google's Catchupgrade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318388)

Recently, Google announced Android 2.2 [google.com] , the next version of their Linux-based mobile operating system targeted at phones and PDAs, at Google I/O 2010 [google.com] . Developers praised the update, calling it and its features a welcome addition to the platform.

Android 2.2 will bring the phone operating system closer to parity with its competitors. With 2.2r4 [google.com] out [google.com] now [google.com] and a projected final release date of Summer '10, Android 2.2 is coming fast.

But stepping back from all of the commotion, what exactly is Google offering with this update? What are these new features and who will benefit from them? There are plenty of questions about Android 2.2and here are the answers.

Five Alive

Probably the most important update for Android for its end-users is HTML5 [w3.org] . This changes very little about the platform itself, but it shows that Google is investing in the technology. It also means that users will have a seamless Web experience.

These two things are important for the future success of Android as a viable mobile platform, though Google's implementation might prove problematic.

On live devices, users will have to install Android 2.2 in its entirety to gain HTML5 support. An entire operating system upgrade for a browser? Get real and update the browser on its owndon't make your users go through the trouble of updating and installing a fundamental update just for some HTML5 support, Google. If this is how you run your phone operating system, I'd hate to see what you expect of Chrome OS [pineapple.vg] users.

And there's also the fact that HTML5 is not novel. Every other industry player has already been including HTML5 support; Apple [apple.com] has long been a proponent of this, including HTML5 support in the developmental Webkit [webkit.org] as well Safari [apple.com] since 2007. You're welcome to the party [wikipedia.org] , Google, but don't announce it like you're the one throwing it. You can make catchup, but it's still catchup.

Flash Forward

Oh, Flash [adobe.com] . Google and Adobe are performing a very calculated industry sixty-nine because both Apple and Google want the mobile-cum-portable market and Adobe wants the video portion of both.

Apple is pushing the open HTML5 standard; Adobe is pissed at Apple [apple.com] . Google, with the old the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend tactic, sees an opportunity and hooks up with Adobe. Sadly, revenge sex only seems clever at first.

The reality is that HTML5, being open and supported by hundreds of companies and standard bodies, will win in the end. Google and Adobe will look like assholes having lapped at such a bloated, poorly-coded, closed video platform that everyone else will zoom past using their browsers sans crashy plugin.

Who wins in the end? The entire industry, sharing in the HTML5 platform, and users, whose browsers don't crash or chew up excess cycles and memory. Sadly, though, not Android users, who are unwitting Adobe consumers.

Hotspotting et al

Android will also support hotspotting, or wifi sharing funneled into its 3G or 4G network, of up to eight other devices. I'm not sure if you've done any serious work on 3G yet, but it's slow.

The prospect of using one 3G account to support other Internet-hungry devices is like expecting a pygmy to carry weightlifters: backbreaking at best and otherwise impossible.

Second, Internet sharing has long been a feature of Mac OS X, which iPhone OS is built upon. This is not a new feature in neither the desktop or mobile segments. Google touting hotspotting as something new and exciting is sneaky: it's new and exciting for Android users, parched for technological conformity, but not more generally to the rest of the world.

Shame on you, Google.

Catchup-Stains

I could go on, but let's staunch the flow of catchup here. The rest of Google's laundry list is the same.

The problem is that they're not really features, per se, as iPhone OS, Symbian, Blackberry OS, and the various incarnations of mobile Windows have had most, if not all, of the Android 2.2 features for years. Android 2.2 is nothing more than Google playing catchup with the rest of the industry.

Automatic updates, auto-fill search, searching file content, SD card support, and an app storethe Desktop Android Marketplaceare all old news, and when one looks at the track record of Google announcements and the actual Android platform itself, it becomes clear that Google came way too late to the game.

It's as if Google is on some bizarre quest to emulate Apple at every point possible, and Android is its iPhone-alike, save for all of the features it does and will lack as it struggles to keep up.

Basically, Google is still coding its way to parity with WinCE and iPhone OS. Each and every update, press release, and conference talk is them announcing this. The buzz surrounding it is empty and hollow, most of which comes from the GNU/Linux crowd which views Android as its mobile Open Source savior.

To real developers and users not attached to Google's teats, Android is a novel mixture of GNU/Linux and Java technologies; an interesting if anemic path to the same destination as the rest of the mobile industry.

But it's still a long way from there, and those things do not make it worth coding for or buying. So who is Android valuable to? To whom will Android 2.2 make a single bit of difference?

Quite frankly, Android is valuable to no oneuntil Google is done playing catchup.

Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32318502)

I am choosing between the new iPhone HD or android. Outdated software is the deciding factor for me. I certainly do like the hardware of the incredible. But if I can't load the latest OS myself, forget it. Sounds like a bigger pain in the ass then dealing with apple. (I currently own iPhone 3g and 3gs and would love an excuse to get android.)

somewhat misleading (3, Informative)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318508)

Of the '5' versions, only 3 have anything resembling significant usage in the wild (1.5, 1.6 and 2.1). Multiple phones have had 2.1 upgrades released for them since the statistics were gathered, thus throwing even those statistics out of whack. Once all the handsets that are capable of running 2.2 are upgraded, I think that will be a pretty stable platform for quite some time - most everything that people have been clamoring for in Android is either in or supported by, that version (Flash, App2SD, bluetooth voice calling, JIT, etc). Many of the handsets that are older and 1.5/1.6-based might not perform all that well with these new features (if at all) due to constrained physical resources (slower CPU, less RAM, etc).

Coming out with new hardware now with anything less than 2.1 should be a crime, though. I'm glad they've said the EVO 4G will have a 2.2 upgrade in July. *whew*

Just give us our devices rooted (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318574)

Dear Hardware providers and cell carriers: Please give us our devices already rooted. The community can easily port new versions of Android to your phones so phones like the Motorola Backflip and Cliq can have decent versions of Android already.

I mean, seriously? What do they have to lose for giving us pre-rooted phones?

Re:Just give us our devices rooted (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318648)

I mean, seriously? What do they have to lose for giving us pre-rooted phones?

Control.

Re:Just give us our devices rooted (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318714)

Which helps them how?

AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint all have a lot to gamble on with their phones. If they gave us our devices pre-rooted, it would come down to price and performance. No one is going to jump ship from Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile to get AT&T's Android phones because they are so #$@#$ awful. If they all allowed rooting, the Backflip might not be the complete crapfest of bloatware and stupid design decisions (seriously, no non-market apps, no Google search, non-removable crapware) and AT&T might entice more people to go to its network.

I know a few people who switched from AT&T and Verizon to T-mobile when they got open Android phones.

AT&T shouldn't put all of its eggs in one basket by shunning Android and supporting the iPhone nearly exclusively. Also, why is it that the networks feel the need to advertise rather than actually -do- something productive with their network. I mean, seriously? AT&T could have spent the money used in battling Verizon upgrading towers to 3G, all the money spent "promoting" the Backflip by ensuring its success by implementing decent designs.

Lack of control means more profit for the cell phone carriers if they can compete. With all the money they seem to be wasting on ads and such, they could have already created great networks and decent phones.

Re:Just give us our devices rooted (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319212)

I'm seriously considering jumping from ATT to Verizon due to the lack of ATT support for any halfway decent Android device.

I currently have a winmo device with ATT and while I'm sort of happy with it, Windows Mobile just isn't meant for a mobile device. That sounds like an incredibly stupid statement, but without tweaks etc it is truly a horrible phone.

Re:Just give us our devices rooted (2, Interesting)

Microlith (54737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318702)

What do they have to lose for giving us pre-rooted phones?

Control. If they give up that, they might not be able to force you on to their services.

Motorola's the worst, since they sign the bootloader, kernel, and file system. The devices won't boot if any part of that has changed, and the only device you -can- change is the DROID (though the Milestone variant is locked down, last I checked.)

Re:Just give us our devices rooted (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319302)

phone manufacturers don't care. service providers do.

they have an interest in being able to control the software that runs on devices that connect to their network. the most obvious example is tethering. they don't want everyone to have it for free, they want to charge $30 / month extra. on a rooted phone they can't control that.

so yes, they have a lot to lose.

This is healthy (1)

travisb828 (1002754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318752)

To me Android has the right mix of hegemony and diversity. Hardware manufactures and carriers are free to have their own custom versions of an OS without having to make it completely incompatible with all the other software out there. Come on people this is what open source is all about. Yes its a little harder on the developer but so what. If you don't like it, go buy a mac to run the iPhone SDK. Pay the registration fee for the App Store and submit to Apple.

Not fragmentation, just maturing. (1)

modestgeek (1449921) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318780)

I personally don't see this as fragmentation, just maturing. These last couple of updates are just finally getting around to the features that users really wanted from the beginning. FULL exchange support, tethering, hotspot, multitouch, etc. These are all features that users wanted from experiences with other phones but Android didn't have full support for.

The problem will be when you can't upgrade the OS because of hardware related reasons within 6 months. Someone who signs a 2 year contract expects that phone to last 1.5-2 years. You can't just go in and upgrade your phone and get the deal price because you haven't completed your contract. Some vendors let you trade in early. Or, if you purchase the phone outright for $500 with no contract, having to shell out another $500 6 months later to get features that should already be there would really suck. Fortunately, the hardware specs on the majority of these newer devices should last at least 2 years IMO.

Re:Not fragmentation, just maturing. (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318854)

Do they really? I upgraded my phone only about a year and a half ago. That phone's no longer available at all through my carrier. You can't even get a refurbished one. And when I got it it'd been available for less than 6 months. So, less than 2 years from initial release to completely obsolete and unavailable.

I think customers expect their phone to function for the full length of the contract, but I don't think anybody expects it to actually be current for more than a year anymore. And I think the carriers depend on that, I don't think it's a coincidence that my carrier makes me eligible for an upgrade at 18 months after purchase or last upgrade despite the contract being for 24 months.

App compatibility. (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#32318842)

Having one single unified Android market which adds terrific value to your handset, is going to ensure any fragmentation doesn't get too bad. This is the basis of why I dismiss these fears out of hand. I'd only worry if the market itself fragmented.

Why this story was posted (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319108)

Apple zealots are getting nervous about Android so this story seeks to reassure them that the rapid improvement of Android is a bad thing.

Terrible Summary (1)

adbge (1693228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32319556)

I believe this development cycle could turn casual consumers away and hurt Android's chances at long term mainstream success.

Sounds like the submitter is suggesting we artificially slow the rate of innovation. Hey, maybe we should just not release new devices with new features at all. That way no one will feel left out!

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