It wasn’t long ago that I wrote a little article about Android Fragmentation, or the trend of having multiple versions of Android in the market and having many different Applications and Features, most of which were Google born, not compatible between each version. This left many users feeling left out in the cold and behind the curve. Heck, if you buy an HTC Hero from Sprint today, you will be 3 versions behind the current leader, Android 2.1. Of course, manufacturers and carriers are all trying to make up for that as well, but it is taking months and in some cases may not happen at all. Engadget had some off the record discussions during CTIA last week and the word is, Google is working to reduce or eliminate that fragmentation in future Android releases.
The first step in this process should come through with the next couple iterations of Android, specifically with Froyo and Gingerbread. In those two releases, Google will start separating some of the applications and components from the core OS and making them a little more independent and upgradable via the Android Market. These are things such as the Dailer, Contacts Apps, Browser, and general UI components, the things most users see and use and would want upgraded the most. The idea is to make as much of the OS as possible upgradable via the Market so carriers and manufacturers don’t have to worry about pushing out new builds on their own. This sounds good, but if a certain app comes out and requires a large core change to the OS, the idea is dead as the user still couldn’t install the update without a core update, which wouldn’t be via the Market. That is where the second step comes into play.
As mentioned in my article about fragmentation, Google has been updating and changing the Android OS so quickly over the last few months it is no wonder the fragmentation exists. Android jumped from 1.6 to 2.1 in four months, hardly enough time to let manufacturers and developers even blink in the industry. Well, as a sort of double edged sword, it appears Google will slow the developement down as they feel the core OS has started to really reach a maturity level that they feel they can now focus more on applications and improvements, little things that should help make the experience that much better. So, large jumps in Android OS versions should be coming farther apart, allowing the manufacturers time to get the latest OS in their devices and users to really enjoy it before their phone becomes a has been in a matter of days. I like innovation and new features and really enjoy getting excited about the next OS release, but I think it will be better for Android to slow down a bit.
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