Fragmentation – Android has a plan

Fragmentation   Android has a plan Over the years we’ve seen Windows Mobile grow and fragment. The OS was so customisable that there were skins, extra apps and enhancements added by manufacturers and mobile networks across the world. Updating the core soon became a tricky and drawn-out process with network operators and add-on GUI’s slowing the process down.

The iPhone launched in 2007 with a totally different philosophy. One type of chassis, one experience, one upgrade method. It soon made people expect regular updates and we’ve posted about the problems of fragmentation before. Microsoft appear to now be following the “iPhone handbook” with one experience and one chassis type, but what of Android? Could the popularity of the “Bend Me, Shape Me” OS be it’s ultimate downfall? Well, it seems that Google are well aware of this potential issue and are taking steps to stop fragmentation. Their wildly fast development cycles have meant that there’s already four versions of Android in the wild – 1.5, 1.6, 2.0 and 2.1. Handset manufacturers are having trouble keeping up and there’s already apps in the Android Market that won’t work on earlier versions.

The solution? In a chat with engadget they may be pulling parts of the OS out and making them downloadable through the Market. This will happen in the next couple of Android versions meaning that the standard Android apps and components will be fed down by Google directly to your handset, thus side-stepping the manufacturer and network.

Another rumour suggests that the speed of development on the OS layer will be slowing somewhat and focus will instead switch to the apps and features of the handset. Even if just part of this is true we’re happy to see it happen. This is something Google needs to grab hold of with both hands and quickly, or they’ll suffer the same pains that Microsoft went through.

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