The world’s technocrats have never stopped thinking around the globe. The need for a more reliable and less costly operating system platform has always been a motivating factor for most mobile development companies.
Known for their lasting dominance in the mobile world, Nokia’s Symbian Operating System has now lost its appeal. The decade-long control by the platform has now come to a standstill with the venture of more interactive platforms like Blackberry, which never made a step, and Apple iOS. The iOS has been known to create a high profile amongst users though not their best option. The platform comes with enormous limitations ranging from vulnerability of operations, cost of owning and use to the unthinkable limit of memory use. Put together, Google Android system took chances to develop an all-inclusive operating system.
Android is an Operating System that has been driven by various open source software like Linux. This allows for customizable screens, easy user navigation as well as creativity. The need to tune various handsets to accommodate various versions of Android systems has, however been imminent. To begin with, fragmentation is a situation where disk files are stored in a noncontiguous way and thus scattered all over the disk. This may happen due to frequent use of a disk as well as creating, modifying and deleting of such files. Worth mentioning is the autonomous view of these files as seen by users; the Operating System ensures these fragments are seen as one by users. However, the speed of operations slows down since finding a single object requires searching throughout the disk thus making it very slow.
Android fragmentation is known to cause multiple and incompatible versions of the system that are specific to the brand. This is a major challenge facing Google innovative Android operating system today stems from their own approach to massive apps creation in their apps store. Some of the major issues with Android fragmentation include;
App Testing Galvanization
For a reliable and continued customer base loyalty, application developers have relied on well tested apps. The growth of any platform is known to anchor on such testing steps, which eventually results to stable applications. For Google Android, there has been a growing fear of untested apps due to the use of services such as TestDroid, AppTwack and most recently, TestFlight. Being a market leader in the world of mobile phone operating systems, Android owns the largest applications base. This, however, stems from a number of level considerations including base OS version, OEM OS modifications, hardware, end-user environment, network carriers and also the carrier OS changes.
Worth understanding is the limited window availed for an older version testing of apps once one has upgraded his or her device’s system. This has become a concern for most users thus resulting to most of them not opting to do so. Consequently, Android developers have been forced to test various versions of their hardware, which are using older Android Operating System versions. This is a major challenge since it hinders or rather galvanizes effective, efficient and timely testing of applications. This is an adverse effect which has been caused by fragmentation of the system. It has gone further to impose the use of specific systems for certain hardware versions.
OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) control
Various market analysts have predicted Google approach to be the most effective of all times. Developing software alone and leaving the hardware issue to other manufacturers. However, the whole idea is poised for a big challenge: fragmentation. The problem has never been complicated as it is now. When Android was tested and launched, it emerged the most promising open source idea form Linux. The idea brought in a sandwich of affordable and massively created apps. This left their archrivals, iPhone, sweating for their market share. It is now a common idea that Google venture has posed threats to all mobile system developing companies not to mention Apple iPhone dominance. Most systems like Blackberry, MeeGo and Symbian, as well as Windows Phone missed the point altogether. This show how stable is the android place in the ever-growing mobile system world.
The fact that Google does not develop both software and hardware has come with a mixed reaction: both positive and negative. It is important to note that the approach has allowed them to catch up so fast since theirs is to create systems and apps alone. On the contrary, iPhone has become a poised competitor since they have both software and hardware. This is a limiting aspect for Google because the hardware manufacturers are known to have a bigger control over their handsets. Take for instance their largest OEMs: HTC and Motorola. They always have their Sense UI and MotoBlur above Android. These sauce applications from the carrier hardware seem a stumbling block.
Fragmentation has thus become an option for the operating system since multiple versions of Android have to be created for the different levels of the hardware in question. The problem is really pathetic when it comes to the massive development of Android apps. For any ISV (Independent Software Developer), developing various versions for different hardware versions becomes hectic. This is a big challenge caused by the uncontrollable Android ecosystem fragmentation. The carriers are now becoming a major hurdle for Android since they are causing fragments, which results to multiple, incompatible versions of apps which are brand-specific.
Switching the control of operating system updates between phone makers and Google is difficult
The unity of Google systems has been considered a strong point by most analysts. In the recent days, Google Android chief, Andy Rubin has been under intense pressure to ensure a stable operating system platform. Surely, he has been able to deliver substantially. This hasn’t come for free: many developers have had to deal with the complexities posed by the uncertainty of the operating system’s future. This and other factors are believed to have seen the Android chief step aside and Google chrome Sundar Pichai taking the steering wheel of the two services combined.
According to analysts, this might be an overwhelming task though an achievable job for Pichai. Various issues need to be addressed for the success of Android and chrome unity. Some of the hurdles facing the world’s most impressive Smartphone system, Android, include varied versions of the same OS which have been created. Unfortunately, phone makers do not install the most recent versions. This is blow to Android since there is a fragmentation in the versions and the hardware used. Updating software or operating system version also has been faced with a couple of issues. Phone makers are known to be the controllers of these updates and not Google. The unfortunate thing is that due to fragmentation, various versions are to be created for a single hardware model. This only becomes difficult for the phone makers since they are not always up to date with such changes.
The next Google conference will manifest the debut of android next version; version 5 or rather Key Lime Pie. On the flip side, most phone makers are still running on 2.x operating systems. The switch is thus difficult due t the fragmented ecosystem. The delivery of all updates should be prioritized for the continuity of Android. This is a sentiment echoed by most techno analysts. This way, the app builders’ confidence will be upheld and thus a task ahead for Pichai. To gain the system’s overall confidence amongst builders and end-users, Android should deal with their major OEMs approach. These include Samsung, HTC, Motorola, HP, and Dell among others. This will ensure their participation in platform changes as well as OS level device management for enterprise security, unlike the current overlay.
Google Services’ Variations
Developing a common platform is an idea which has been tipped to bring enormous benefits to Google. It is thus a challenge for the Google Android and Google Chrome operating systems to jointly operate in the near future. The challenge, however, remains that of fragmented ecosystem. This makes it hard for applications developed to work in a certain Android version as well as Chrome to be used in another version of Android. This is a blow since it is understood that create-once deploy-anywhere apps are known to ease the complexity of search integration, context delivery, ads, and location based services. It is needless mentioning the cost attributed to such fragmented systems since every update or version has to be created for every change.
A unison use the two Google services are thus limited by Android fragmentation. This brings services’ variations, which are unfavorable for the use of cloud. It is important that Android handles the issue of fragmentation with urgency and caution. The problem could cost them their market share let alone contributing to their backlash. The future of mobile technology is so potent, and Google should ensure a sustained share and appeal lest they risk losing to their rivals; Windows Phone, iPhone and even Symbian among other competitors. Joint use of their major operating system services, Android and Chrome, would thus come to their rescue. However, Android fragmentation comes as a shock pull over and thus calls for immediate address.
Limitation of App Development and Market Growth
The hurdles presented by Android fragmentation may be as devastating as limiting app builders’ efforts. This may come as a discouragement due to the incompatibility issues. Since every new version or updates must call for a new application, developers may find it unreasonable and not conducive to thrive in Android app development. With the current Original Equipment Manufacturers policy very unfriendly, the carrier hardware remains very unhealthy for Google Android market growth. These problems are all anchored on the Android fragmentation issues. IPhone and Windows phone are now changing their gear and so should Google OEMs approach.
The idea behind android success has always been the open source aspect. App developers can have their applications on the market and users have them for free. This has encouraged many Smartphone users to use Google enabled phones. In the recent past, Android came under intense criticism for uncontrolled entry by developers who even introduced malware and other security threats to their store. While Android allowed for free and easy access to their apps store, iPhone limited it for the creation of premium apps. This led to a stiff competition in the market and surely, Google gave Steve Jobs’ Apple a run for its money. However, complexities introduced by incompatible Android versions which required specific hardware brands meant a slow to their market growth pace. Fragmented ecosystem is now the biggest threat to the future development of Android operating system. The various issues posed by fragmentation have to be dealt with very cautiously and urgently.
Dealing with Android Fragmentation Issues
Android fragmentation has proved to be a stumbling block to the future growth of the operating system. As a contingency measure, Google has come up with various tools and approaches to end the threat. The issue of interoperability amongst applications created for different devices stems from the potentiality of the various custom versions of Android operating system. Some applications are said to be platform specific thus making it difficult to operate across other devices. This fragmentation can be handled by use of the Android Compatibility Program. The recent blog release from Google has indicated the upcoming end to these concerns. Android fragmentation has been noted to pose a dead end for Google Android, but the program has come as a sigh of relieve.
Creating applications on mobile platforms have now become a commonplace for both novice and guru mobile app developers. Google Android Software Development Kit has been the largest hub for such. With the Android fragmentation problem still proving adamant, new app builders find their confidence shaken and thus making Google undergo intense pressure. To remain on the top bench, Android must consider an amicable solution to the fragmentation problem lest they risk losing both end-user trust and market appeal altogether. Android’s open source advantage is now under siege if the fragmentation issues persist.