Android: Addressing platform fragmentation
In an earlier post, i had discussed about the fragmentation of the “open” Android platform.The fact that Android gave the ODM the choice of customizing the platform was one of the USPs of Android. However, this then causes the open platform to fragment as ODMs dig deep into parts of the operating system. So then Google Android starts branching out like the Moto Blur or the HTC Sense. This post speaks about Google’s efforts to stem and hold the fragmentation of the Android.
There have been a spate of Android handsets running as many as four different versions of the operating system in the last few months. This complicates life for application developers, who have to either pick a version or two to target with their application or conduct lots of testing to make sure they can run across Android handsets. (That is where the Apple Application store is so hassle free with just one device to contend for). Four separate versions of the Android have been released over the last year –1.5, 1.6, 2.0, and 2.1–as part of Google’s mad rush to improve Android, and it sounds like the company is more satisfied with its recent progress.
Google is supposedly shifting development away from Android’s core to focus on applications and also plans to put more separation between those applications and the core operating system. That means that new applications that arrive along with new operating-system releases could also be downloaded for older phones through the Android Market without having to pass through the handset maker or carrier’s approval process.Google will start to make this happen during the next release of Android codenamed Froyo and take it through to the next release of Android, codenamed Gingerbread
The plan makes sense on several levels: having worked frantically to catch up to the iPhone, Google is in much better competitive shape with the 2.1 release and can start prioritizing developer stability over core features. And, of course, giving users a way to obtain those key applications directly from Google falls in line with its long-term strategy of shifting control from carriers and handset makers to software providers.
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