Android Developers Soured by Multiple Flavors of Android

Ice Cream Sandwich, Ginger Bread and Jellybeans do taste sweet, don’t they? Well, it seems Android flavors are loved by the masses but soured by the developers.

According to a report, the multiple flavors of Android operating system and the incessant progression has created hindrances for developers. Most apps do not execute perfectly when the version of Android changes. With every new version, new class and system files would need to be created. There would be changes on how the data flows, how the events are triggered, how the data binds and how the data would be encapsulated.

There have always been issues with Android fragmentation. Instead of scooping ice-creams, Google serves them in a completely new dish. That’s where Apple’s iOS fares better. For example, if you develop an iOS application for iOS-3, the new iOS 5 is designed in such a way that it would work flawlessly even in iOS 5.

That is not the case with Android. Currently, the larger group of Android developers is working on Ginger Bread. An app developed for Ginger Bread won’t work particularly well in Ice Cream Sandwich or higher layer of Android OS. Developers do not expect upward compatibility, but Google should at least provide downward compatibility. In other words, an application developed for a lower version of Android should work glibly with higher version of Android OS.

Also many developers are finding it extremely time-consuming and difficult to update their app, every time Google releases a newer version of Android OS.

If this continues, Google would soon lose some of the elite App developers who would shift their focus to a more stable iOS model to render their services.

It’s naïve to say that Google’s Jellybean was not worth a release. However, Google needs to come up with a robust Android OS model which runs apps aimed at previous version of Android on the latest version of Android OS. There has to be compatibility and integrity, if it wants to survive against Apple in the app market.

What do you think should Google do? Stop making OS or start making stable OS?

Sink your thoughts in. We would love to hear.


  1. For example, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will not even run the USB Host sample application provided by Google because it does not flag the USB_DEVICE_ATTACHED intent when a USB device is connected to it.

  2. That’s great to hear. 🙂

    But I do not understand how can hardware specifications have an impact over software integration?

    I think you have made a good point by saying that Android should hide the complexity within the hardware and provide a more universal platform for coding apps.

  3. This is only a problem for developers with poorly coded apps, generally. For example, the OK Cupid app is currently broken on Jelly Bean. Their text fields don’t work. This is not a problem for literally every other app on my phone, all of which used the standard UI toolkit for edittext, instead of some slow, ugly roll-your-own hack solution like OK Cupid. Optimizations that make the whole system run faster and more reliably will break applications that rely on more than the platform guarantees them.

    To me, it’s like planning a trip around using a hotel room you’ve rented after you’ve checked out – if the hotel hasn’t yet revoked your keys, and the new guests haven’t moved in yet, you might be able to sleep there another night. However, this is not behavior to be depended upon, and any app that relies on it will experience a rude awakening when the version changes.

    TL;DR: Poorly coded apps go from being slow, ugly, and buggy to being totally nonfunctional when Android updates versions; properly coded apps go from being fine to being smoother, prettier, and more reliable.

  4. As an Android developer since Android 2.2 I havent seen a problem with fragmentation. I develop my apps on Android 2.2 and works fine on Honeycomb and Icecream sandwich. A much bigger problem I find is the difference in hardware between android phones. An app that works fine on a Samsung might have problems on a HTC. Often its hard to discover the problem without actually buying the phone which can be costly as a developer.

  5. Well, what you’re saying is partly correct.

    Umm, Android handsets are almost double the iPhone devices. Besides, there are more apps on the Play Store than there are in the App Store.

    Regarding the fragmentation, would you love having the same view in two different windows of your house? Android has always been about more features, more compatibility, more utility,

    iPhone on the other hand preaches simplicity. It’s a layman’s smartphone. Easy to use and powerful to manage.

    The issue here however as mentioned is not the ice-cream, but the serves. It would be better, if Google scooped updates in just one bowl. If someone buys a dish and wants to eat Chocolate and not Strawberry, he should not be enforced to eat both or drop it. 😉

  6. I’ve been reading about this Android fragmentation issue since January of 2009, just a few months after Android was released. This must be the critical issue that is holding Android back from being popular. If it weren’t for fragmentation people might start developing apps for Android, and that would encourage people to start buying Android devices.

    Because, you know, people aren’t doing those things yet, right?

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