Android Fragmentation

I believe this will mark the third post I’ve made bitching about Android. Why do I spend so much time complaining about it? It’s quite simple, I really like the OS. My Evo 4G is a pretty awesome phone overall. But Google and carriers have been making some questionable decisions when it comes to Android that make it difficult to use and develop for.

Engadget has a great blurb posted titled Engelligence: Will carriers destroy the Android Vision? One of the key features of Android is it’s open source. This means anybody can download the source code an modify the operating system to their heart’s content. Google keeps some of the applications closed source such as Google Maps so they can add some value to the OS but overall you’re free to do as you wish with it.

Unfortunately this also means carriers have the ability to do whatever they want with it. Why is this unfortunate? Because they do stupid things. AT&T lock out all non-Market applications while Verizon recently switched out Google search for Bing. Basically having a phone that runs Android doesn’t guarantee anything, the carriers may have changed any number of features on the phone.

Hardware manufacturers have also been a pain in the ass. For every awesome phone like the Evo 4G, Droid X, and Nexus One there is at least one piece of shit device that runs Android 1.6. This is a headache for developers because you have no idea what version of the OS people will be running and really need to attempt making your applications run on a wide variety of Android versions. Android 2.x has made some good in grounds but many phones are still on 2.1 and not the newer 2.2. Of course that falls back to the whole point I previously made about hardware manufacturers being willing to drop support for one of their devices a short while after introducing it.

We we’ve learned with Windows fragmentation is a pain in the ass. Sure Windows 7 has some awesome new features you would like to utilize in your application but can’t because a majority of your customer base is still running Windows XP. There is something to be said about a manufacturer who controls both the hardware and software as can be seen with the Nexus One. Even though it’s no longer being sold to consumers the Nexus One is the flagship Android device because Google continues to maintain it with timely updates and didn’t give the carriers a chance to mess with it.

2 thoughts on “Android Fragmentation”

  1. I think the answer is just to buy your phones direct and don’t go through the carriers so you get the not jacked up OS on it. I have been doing it for years on AT&T they think I am using a phone I had 3 or 4 phones ago. I tend to use Nokia phones so I just order the unlocked model I want online (got the last one off of Newegg), drop in my SIM and config it, and I am good to go. AT&T doesn’t know I have changed phones and they can’t ding me with a “activation charge” as they have nothing to activate and I don’t have to extend my contract either. That is the beauty of GSM/SIM card based phones. Granted you are giving up your phone subsidy, but I think it is worth it to not be locked into a contract and nickeled and dimed on shit.

    1. I’m most certainly OK with surrendering my phone subsidy but the problem is I’m on Sprint and SIM cards are a no-go. I’m pretty much stuck on a CDMA network as place I travel have no GSM coverage whatsoever.

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