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Google Modifies Android SDK to Combat Fragmentation

By - Source: Android | B 15 comments

Developers prevented from action that could lead to further fragmentation.

In an effort to decrease consumer and developer frustration regarding the fragmentation of its Android platform, Google is aiming to put a stop to it.

The search engine giant recently modified its legal agreement with developers creating Android apps, subsequently preventing them from any action that could lead to further fragmentation of the mobile operating system.

The new clause is the first major update since the 2009 terms, which did not discuss the issues surrounding fragmentation. The clause has now been added to the Android SDK licensing terms and conditions; developers must accept it should they wish to create applications for the platform.

"You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK," reads section 3.4 of Google's updated terms.

Fragmentation leads to apps being prevented from running properly on all Android devices, leading to the platform becoming more costly and complex for developers.

According to Google statistics, more than 54 percent of Android devices are running Android 2.3, which was the version that launched in 2010. One of the more recent version, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, only runs on 2.4 percent of smartphones.

 

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  • 0 Hide
    scannall , November 23, 2012 2:05 PM
    Yeah, good luck with that. Since it is open source that can be mostly ignored.
  • -8 Hide
    bllue , November 23, 2012 2:25 PM
    Gotta love having a 2 year old version of Gingerbread on my phone (which had its support dropped a mere year later). Guess which OS I won't be getting next around? Yeah, Android. Considering Windows Phone more and more since there's no fragmentation issues and the OS is a lot more stable than android.
  • 3 Hide
    SinisterMessiah , November 23, 2012 2:53 PM
    Still waiting on Jelly Bean for AT&T Galaxy SIII. What a joke.
  • Display all 15 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , November 23, 2012 3:19 PM
    Gave up on non-carrier S3 and went SuperNexus. Never looking back! (Next phone will probably be a Nexus)
  • 5 Hide
    Kami3k , November 23, 2012 3:24 PM
    bllue Considering Windows Phone more and more since there's no fragmentation issues and the OS is a lot more stable than android.


    Isn't the latest version, 8, not going on previous phones?
  • -5 Hide
    bllue , November 23, 2012 4:03 PM
    Kami3kIsn't the latest version, 8, not going on previous phones?

    Android's still an unstable and inefficient pos
  • 1 Hide
    kinggraves , November 23, 2012 4:03 PM
    Kami3kIsn't the latest version, 8, not going on previous phones?


    You have a point, but the latest version, 8, will last a couple years for any device using it. They do not consider every .x a major update. Everything that is 2.x should run anything 2.x on Android, but it doesn't. Everyone using a 4.0 device should have 4.2 already, but they do not. Every single little update to Android seems to cause them to consider it a new upgrade that "may not work on all devices". This trick in numbering prevents consumers from being able to tell there are FAR more than 4 versions of Android actually out.

    Why is this action even being taken now? Wasn't fragmentation supposed to be fixed 2 whole versions ago? Why are developers being targeted? This sounds more like a shot at people who mod the system than a blow towards fragmentation. The one strength of Android is it's customizability and modded ROMs. Take that away, and we might as well just head over to MS/Apple.

    So tired of these corporate giants, the bigger they get the more they copy the neighbors. Didn't your mother ever tell you to just be yourself?
  • 4 Hide
    ericburnby , November 23, 2012 4:35 PM
    Why is Google addressing a problem that Android users claim doesn't exist? /S

    @scannall: Android isn't as open as you think. Most companies belong to the OHA (Open Handset Alliance) which already has rules regarding what OEM's can do if they want to use Android. That's how Google prevented Acer from releasing the Aliyun powered (Android fork) phone.

    Amazon was able to use and modify Android because they're not part of the OHA, but that also means Amazon's version doesn't get to access all Google services/store.
  • 1 Hide
    techcurious , November 23, 2012 7:14 PM
    ivanto = one confused individual..
  • -6 Hide
    ivanto , November 23, 2012 7:42 PM
    techcuriousivanto = one confused individual..


    I dont follow the herd. Here is what I mean ->
    When I buy a phone, I expect my phone to be upgradable to latest OS version for at least 3-4 years. And upgradeable when I want, not when operators and manufacture chose it.

    For example, last 4 iPhone generations run the same iOS 6. VS most Android phones are not easily upgradable nor have frequent supported OS upgrades. Basically pain in the @...

  • 5 Hide
    cryogenic , November 23, 2012 9:20 PM
    Kami3kIsn't the latest version, 8, not going on previous phones?


    That is not fragmentation.

    Windows Phone 7 applications work on Windows Phone 8 without modification and the compatibility is guaranteed by Microsoft. In this case you do not have fragmentation.

    Fragmentation is when there is a lack of compatibility between versions causing developers to have to create multiple versions of the same application to target multiple versions of the OS, which greatly increases costs for developers.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 24, 2012 3:06 AM
    "You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK,"

    This places the blame for fragmentation at the feet of people who develop non-Google SDKs. I would say the main cause of fragmentation in the Android world is the fact that each app must be tweaked and massaged to run on all the different versions of Android.

    Some features are much easier to implement on later versions of Android, but remain hard to implement on older versions of the OS.
    It's more of a challenge to develop multiple versions of 1 app, so devs usually choose between flashy new features or they target the bulk of users with the older versions of the OS.
    That is the root of fragmentation on Android
  • 0 Hide
    smartroad , November 25, 2012 5:35 PM
    I don't see how this will help. The manufacturers have to many phones to maintain and to many updates to keep up with.
  • 0 Hide
    Shin-san , November 25, 2012 5:42 PM
    That's strange. They say "may cause" fragmentation, but a lot of the Android programmers I know have a rough time utilizing the Android SDK parts that deal with it. Also, it gets quite complicated making an app use both 2.x and JellyBean
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