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Opinion- The real reason for fragmentation in Android

Yes once again the F-word none of us like to hear… Fragmentation in Android… Is it true… yes… we still have devices on 1.6 that are almost a year old… 2.2 is already widely out there and 2.3 SDK is now out, so why are phones coming out with 2.1 still? Why is there so much disconnect between what Google has put out in there SDK to what phones are coming out with? This really is a two part post… 1.) Who is to blame for Fragmentation in Android and 2.) who even cares about it…I’ll answer that second one first since its easier… The only one’s that care of Android fragmentation is the gossip sites or other tech sites and such… as well as Apple fanboys who have to come up with BS excuses as to why they don’t want something that works 2 years ahead of what they are using now. That’s who… the end user doesn’t…Most of the people who I’ve asked either don’t care which OS they are running. They are happy with what they have or root their phones to have it up to date with what the developers are able to push onto it. People who buy the Droid Eris or the Defy or the Backflip are not the ones who care about having the most up to date OS running on there phone. The ones who care are the ones who bought the Nexus One, G2, MyTouch4g, Evo, and  the Droid X. They got it for features they currently have, not hoping to get.

So now that we have gone over who gives a cares about what OS there Android phone is running or not running; let’s get to why there is even fragmentation at all. Manufacturer… plain and simple.  Google didn’t say “You know what Motorola, our stock look needs some BS widgets and to be colorful like the coral reef s, can you please put a lagging overlay of BS on it?”… Nor did they say to Sony Ericsson “Put something on those sexy phones, but make sure it’ll only run 1.6 until we have 3.0 out then put 2.1 on it and they’ll be happy.”

All of this fragmentation goes back to manufacturers and not Google. Does Google take some blame? Yes, they allowed them to put BS on top of there OS to make it so each could have its “own”. Does someone who just bought a Cliq care about having 2.2 the minute it drops? You bought a gimmicky phone you get gimmicky crap in return. You want what Google will send out quick get a phone that doesn’t have some overlay third-party add-on to it and you’ll get it.

Other tech sites will forever run stories about how horrible Android is with keeping its devices up with the other ones. Yet isn’t the one who puts it on the devices… Motorola, HTC, LG and others are… Yet why are sites that naive to blame Google and not who really the issue is with.  I don’t get it… neither do they.

12 Comments

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  1. Microsoft, like Google, writes code. Microsoft, like google, gives that code to manufacturers who then add their “secret sauce” over the pre-existing OS.

    Microsoft does not produce CPUs, GPUs, pre-built systems, laptops, tablets, or any other form of hardware.

    Even if, there are applications produced today that still run on my Win98 machine with no problems (save speed).

    Those are the two forms of fragmentation people refer to when discussing Android. Both of these problems are virtually non-existent in PCs. Maybe I’ve just been looking in the wrong places.

  2. Yes, HTC Senseless for me, too, on an Eris – Verizon. I really didn’t mind the 2.1 / 2.2 divide until they came out with Priority Inbox for 2.2 only.

  3. @Brent only if the user or rather our bosses understand that on so and so device if this doesnt work, well its fine we developers would be a happy bunch 😛 this was regarding ur statement that the end user is not bother what phone he is using… but my friend they do care if the app they have purchased from the market is not up to the mark… try asking them that instead 🙂

  4. hahaha real slick, at getting back at a developer… in the mean time i m a devloper of ANDROID and do it for a living… the only problem it causes is this plain simple. We get to hear “The quality of work done in IOS is much better than ANDROID”. Nw its not like we are not coding well, its just that if something is suppose to work it should work.. and well this isnt new if you had met a J2ME developer before :)… the main problem for developers is the zillions of phones that are there on the market… and only one thing being constant is ” if something works on one device, not necessarily works on the other” and that causes work arounds in code(which are well not that efficient and always compromises on the quality) so in short what J Marriot meant was its real frustrating after doing something real slick and finding out it doesnt work always.. u said windows is most fragmented.. nw i wondered how many manufacturers except “Microsoft” creates windows 🙂 u r a funny man and yeah enjoy ur calling us whiney babies we dont mind some backlash, just keeps us motivated to work that bit harder !!!

  5. According to Merriam-Webster:

    [a href=’http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/job’>Job: a piece of work; especially : a small miscellaneous piece of work undertaken on order at a stated rate

    Last time I checked, advertisements bring in money. Even if you don’t have to pay out of pocket, the developers are still bringing down money.

    Anyway, the point still remains that developers still code. When I do something that causes me stress, I either stop doing it, or try to do it as little as possible. If its really as big a headache as its made out to be, then stop developing for it and force Google’s/manufacture’s hands. Become a developer for a less fragmented ecosystem. Become a car salesman. Either way, nobody really cares when they complain. All it makes them do is sound like a bunch whiney babies.

    As far as ROM developers go, from everything I’ve seen Windows Mobile is a far more difficult nut to crack, and still those developers develop with a smile on their face (or at least without ranting every couple days). Maybe I’ve just been lucky with my Captivate, but the developers over on XDA have not complained about fragmentation. Ever. I guess that means I’m focusing on application developers and not ROM developers

    And desktop Windows is still a hell hole when it comes to fragmentation. I see FAR fewer complains from those coders. So either Google did a horrible job of making the SDK, or (and what I believe is the case) developers in the mobile space are lazy and want everything given to them. Few want to put in the time and effort necessary to make an application that just works.

  6. It doesn’t prevent Google from sending out the OTA but the manufacturers (and network operators) make changes which then need to be approved before release. It’s this “added user experience” that delays updates (as owners of Sony Ericsson’s Android phones know only too well).
    In my case I have to wait for T-Mobile to finish hashing their additions on top of the already hideousness that is HTC Sense.

    What phone / network do you have?

  7. Their job? Where on earth did you get that notion from? Most devs create Android apps in their spare time and charge NOTHING for them (not to mention the ROM developers).

    Google released the Android ADK. Devs wrote applications to work on the Android system. Manufacturers came along and boll**ks’d it up so the apps didn’t work properly. It would be unjustified to expect a developer to purchase every phone to test their app on (can be done with beta live testing on friends phones etc. but far far from ideal).
    If manufacturers employed coding teams that were worth their wages it wouldn’t be an issue.

    No, no one is forcing them to do it, they do it out of love. Hardly think it’s the done thing to throw that in their face either.

  8. Question – do these overlays (the “BS on top of the OS”) prevent Google from sending out OTAs past 2.1? If someone started out with 1.6 over a year ago and has been getting consistent updates through 2.1, why wouldn’t they expect that to continue?

  9. It’s not fragmentation. It’s diversity. Each manufacturer puts their twist on a freely available, open OS at their own discretion. Google purposely designed it that way. Android at this point is still for the tech-savy, early adopter. Android phones are not for everyone. If you don’t already know about each manufacturer, their history with Android development and releases or particularly information about all available and future release handsets, you are asking to make a possible wrong decision when buying a smartphone. I personally love android and did my research before buying. A lot of average consumers do not. So all in all I am tired of hearing about Android fragmentation. Every operating system has some form of it. Get over it, research before you purchase, learn how to root or find someone who can.

  10. I agreed with you up until

    “Devs shouldn’t have to spend time tweaking apps because Samsung can’t get anything right.”

    I don’t know when this attitude of developers being above it all started, but when your job is to create software that works, you should create software that works. You won’t find a platform as fragmented as Windows, while you’ll find a few exceptions to the rule, 90% of all applications will run without major issue.

    I’ll be honest with you, mobile developers are the whiniest bunch of content creators I’ve ever seen. If developing an application is so tiring, stop doing it and do something else. Nobody is forcing them to write code for a living. That’s a personal choice.

  11. It’s about time someone pointed out that it’s the manufacturers that are causing so many issues. People need to pay real attention to who makes the phone they are looking to purchase. Unfortunately people are ignorant to this / naive brand loyalty etc. With Android 3.0 Google are making an attempt to minimise manufacturer “BS widgets” etc. but manufacturers know a lot of people will buy anything “shiny”.
    As to your “no one cares” actually I do. It annoys me because of people’s naivety (not their fault) Android get’s a bad rep. Look at the comments in apps market to see proof of this. Devs shouldn’t have to spend time tweaking apps because Samsung can’t get anything right. They should free to create an app that works on “Android”. Allowing for screen resolutions and Android versions should be the only variable.

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