Google engineers talk fragmentation, how to make Android work for emerging markets

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
This week's Google I/O saw no announcements of any new versions of the company's mobile operating system, Android, and that may be because the team that is building the system is working to address the platform's biggest problem: fragmentation.

versions
via Garee's Blog


The issue of fragmentation arose this week in a panel discussion with assorted members of the Android team in attendance, according to Ars Technica. In the course of a forty-minute question and answer session, the team spoke on a number of topics related to Google's overwhelmingly popular operating system.

"This is something we think about a lot ," Dave Burke, Google's Android engineering director, said of fragmentation. Part of the problem, Burke said, lies in the fact that Android device vendors are able to take the open source code and create their own Board Support Packages ? specific implementations of an operating system ? to ensure compatibility between their devices and a certain build of Android.

"We do a lot of iteration," said Burke, "so that we try to build a system that works really well on a broad range of hardware."

Google was widely expected to release a new version of its operating system at this week's Google I/O, but the Android team's comments seem to indicate that the search giant has taken a different track this year, focusing more on honing what already exists on the platform rather than leaping ahead to new versions with new features and new architectures.

The team also discussed emerging markets where Android has become popular due to its ability to run on lower-specced hardware.

"We're looking at ways to make Android more efficient for the entry-level smartphones to help improve that situation," Burke said.

Fragmentation in the Android operating system is both a blessing and a curse for the platform. Reliance upon older versions of Android allows device manufacturers to put low-specced, low-cost devices into the hands of consumers in developing markets, but it also means that many consumers are unable to access some of the latest apps on the platform.

The issue also presents a problem for many Android developers. Having to write across multiple versions ? around 40 percent of Android devices are running a three-year-old version of the OS ? presents a challenge for smaller developer groups, which has led some observers to believe smaller groups will be squeezed out of the platform as it progresses.

In recent months, Google has changed the way it calculates the distribution of Android versions. While the company acknowledges that many devices are still on Gingerbread, first released in 2010, it now publicizes proportions only related to the users that access its Google Play Store, meaning that many Android device users essentially go uncounted with regard to developers.

By comparison, Apple's iOS 6 already accounts for 83 percent of web traffic from Apple devices in North America.
«13456710

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 189
    studentxstudentx Posts: 112member
    "In recent months, Google has changed the way it calculates the distribution of Android versions. While the company acknowledges that many devices are still on Gingerbread, first released in 2010, it now publicizes proportions only related to the users that access its Google Play Store, meaning that many Android device users essentially go uncounted with regard to developers.

    Classic. They didn't like the numbers so they only counted what they want to see. This discounts all of the Android phones only being used as feature/dumb phones.

    If so they should only count activations that "access its Google Play Store". You know, phones activated and being used as smartphones.
  • Reply 2 of 189
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,110member


    But... but... the Android apologists for ages have said there is no fragmentation, or that it only affects people that doesn't include them, cause you know... it's all about them.



    Google admits that Android is fragmented.  What a surprise.  Shouldn't be too long before the Phandroids pollute this thread and try spinning this story.

  • Reply 3 of 189
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    ...but, but, but fragmentation is a myth, there is no fragmentation...

    There's no Key Lime Pie either, unless Santa Claus is bringing it for Christmas.
  • Reply 4 of 189
    They are waiting on apple to release something awesome @WWDC to inspire them.
  • Reply 5 of 189
    So Google is going to tweak and improve JB instead of coming out with a new version. But when Apple does an iOS upgrade that doesn't add a gazillion features (needed or not) then suddenly they're not innovating.

    Add that to fragmentation and the apologists have a lot of work ahead of them.
  • Reply 6 of 189
    macslutmacslut Posts: 514member


    "around 40 percent of Android devices are running a three-year-old version of the OS"


     


    Wow... think about that for a second.  I would've thought much less than 40% would even have a phone that was 3 years old.

     

  • Reply 7 of 189
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,675member
    Do these Google employees have single-digit IQ's? I mean, this was to be expected, even before Android was released and still in development. Gees Google, if you are going to copy someone else's work, why don't you copy it verbatim? Instead of just creating a mess out of it.
  • Reply 8 of 189
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,926member
    A developer conference with no mention of a new OS version? Fail. Wait, it's google? Please ignore.
  • Reply 9 of 189
    neo42neo42 Posts: 287member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by studentx View Post



    "In recent months, Google has changed the way it calculates the distribution of Android versions. While the company acknowledges that many devices are still on Gingerbread, first released in 2010, it now publicizes proportions only related to the users that access its Google Play Store, meaning that many Android device users essentially go uncounted with regard to developers.



    Classic. They didn't like the numbers so they only counted what they want to see. This discounts all of the Android phones only being used as feature/dumb phones.



    If so they should only count activations that "access its Google Play Store". You know, phones activated and being used as smartphones


     


    The OS calculation is done this way to provide developers with better information on the target demographic.  Activations are a bit different because even if the owner never access the play store, they're still likely to use Google's own services with the applications which are included.

  • Reply 10 of 189
    neo42neo42 Posts: 287member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by macslut View Post


    "around 40 percent of Android devices are running a three-year-old version of the OS"


     


    Wow... think about that for a second.  I would've thought much less than 40% would even have a phone that was 3 years old.

     



     


    Just because the OS is three years old doesn't mean that the hardware is.  If a manufacturer wants to build a device and throw an old version of the OS on it, they are free to do so.  

  • Reply 11 of 189
    forisforis Posts: 25member
    '"We do a lot of iteration," said Burke, "so that we try to build a system that works really well on a broad range of hardware."

    Or to convert that into real-world speak: "We're always chasing our tails because we can never keep up with such wildly diverse hardware - and self-interested telcos".

    Fragmentation is a core part of the Android business model. It will never go away, unless they throw it away, start again and adopt the Apple model - which just isn't possible. They can no more eliminate fragmentation than a snail can become an eagle by painting wings on its shell.
  • Reply 12 of 189
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    But... but... the Android apologists for ages have said there is no fragmentation, or that it only affects people that doesn't include them, cause you know... it's all about them.



    Google admits that Android is fragmented.  What a surprise.  Shouldn't be too long before the Phandroids pollute this thread and try spinning this story.





    Who said there was no fragmentation? Who said it was all about "them"?

  • Reply 13 of 189
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    Do these Google employees have single-digit IQ's? I mean, this was to be expected, even before Android was released and still in development. Gees Google, if you are going to copy someone else's work, why don't you copy it verbatim? Instead of just creating a mess out of it.


    You know the answer to that. What's the point of attacking someone's IQ when you well they are much smarter than most people in this forum? Criticize their work, their approach. But demeaning their IQ is a reflection of yourself more than anything else.

  • Reply 14 of 189
    dnd0psdnd0ps Posts: 253member


    Now wouldn't it be original if they introduced 4.3 RIGHT after iOS 7. 


    Android 4.3, inspired by Johnny Ive.

  • Reply 15 of 189
    chiachia Posts: 714member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post

    What's the point of attacking someone's IQ when you well [know] they are much smarter than most people in this forum?...But demeaning their IQ is a reflection of yourself more than anything else.


     


    How ironic, have you tested the IQ of most people in this forum?


    Otherwise you're just as guilty of demeaning posters' IQs as the original poster was demeaning Google engineers.

  • Reply 16 of 189
    chia wrote: »
    How ironic, have you tested the IQ of most people in this forum?
    Otherwise you're just as guilty of demeaning posters' IQs as the original poster was demeaning Google engineers.

    He's not. He has a valid reason to assume the developers at Google are generally smart whereas the forums here don't give one a valid reason to assume such.
  • Reply 17 of 189
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,481member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by macslut View Post


    "around 40 percent of Android devices are running a three-year-old version of the OS"


     


    Wow... think about that for a second.  I would've thought much less than 40% would even have a phone that was 3 years old.

     



    That's the problem. There are new phones still being sold with this on them.

  • Reply 18 of 189
    genovelle wrote: »
    That's the problem. There are new phones still being sold with this on them.

    And old phones fully capable of running the new version yet don't get updated.

    Always an appeal of iPhone. With Android it's "go nexus or go home" whereas with iPhone it's "go iPhone"

    Another reason I suggest iPhones.
  • Reply 19 of 189
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member


    Android was a joke when it was first released, and now it's a terribly fragmented joke. It's not a high performance OS, and you can't even do a simple thing like play a piano in realtime on Android, without a noticeable latency. I'm not surprised that Android is focusing on "emerging" markets, as Android is a mighty fine match for the cheapest and junkiest of phones that you can find out there.


     


    When I think of Android, I think of their obesity and tooth decay promoting mascots, I think of massive amounts of malware, I think of fragmentation, I think of cheap devices, I think of "emerging" markets and I think of BOGOF deals. Basically, I think that Android sucks, and my opinion won't change no matter how many devices they claim to have activated. The majority of those devices are junk, and junk multiplied by a billion is just a whole bunch of junk.

  • Reply 20 of 189
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

    Do these Google employees have single-digit IQ's? [...] creating a mess out of it.

     

    LOL, classic PhilBoogie!
Sign In or Register to comment.