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Devs Grapple With 100+ Versions of Android 386

Barence writes "The scale of the challenge facing Android developers has been laid bare by Twitter client TweetDeck. During beta testing of its new software, TweetDeck encountered more than 36,000 testers using an enormous pool of 244 different handsets. Not only was hardware for the platform fragmented, but Tweetdeck had to contend with more than a hundred different versions of Android, highlighting just how muddled the market is for the open-source platform. The splintering of Android is making life difficult for app developers. 'It's not particularly harder to develop for Android over iPhone (from a programming standpoint),' said Christopher Pabon, a developer who writes apps for both the iPhone and Android platforms. 'Except when it comes to final quality assurance and testing. Then it can be a nightmare (a manageable nightmare, mind you).'"
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Devs Grapple With 100+ Versions of Android

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  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:37AM (#33895088)

    2.2, 2.1 update 1, 2.1, something called 020201 (2.0?) and 1.6 account for almost all of the users. The remainder are custom ROMs you're not really obliged to support. Not that having five major releases operating in the wild is much better, mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:44AM (#33895194)

    "Android's not doing at all badly compared to Apple's iOS, is it?"

    Google dumped Apple into 3rd place and is the top selling smartphone OS and it sales rate is accelerating at a tremendous rate.

    These angry Apple fanboy in the media outbursts are all they can think of to deal with Google kicking their precious Apple's ass in the marketplace.

  • by SimonTheSoundMan ( 1012395 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:46AM (#33895248) Homepage

    But handset manufacturers do not distribute vanilla versions of each OS. Sometimes the OS varies between different handsets from the same manufacturer running the same OS version.

  • by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @12:05PM (#33895562)

    and HTC's If-rooted-Reload-default-OS feature,

    That's funny, my rooted Evo, which I bought a few weeks after its launch, is still rooted and I am under no obligation to run any OTA updates offered. So yeah, I enjoy being able to use my phone as a wifi hotspot paired up with my netbook, along with any other feature that requires root.

    failed experiment that proves that Carriers' and Manufacturers' greed will kill any open source advantages that Android could have brought.

    Exactly what advantages? How is a phone with a variety of options any better or worse than a phone without those options? The advantages I find with my phone are that I was able to choose which phone I wanted, nothing more. I don't really care that I can go and look at the code and modify it to do whatever I want. I care that I have a choice between a variety of hardware vendors and carriers. I wanted 4g speeds, and I wanted a plan that suited how I use my phone. So for my monthly price, I get unlimited data at speeds far greater than any other phone, and I can share that unlimited data with other devices. This is win.

  • by bem ( 1977 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @12:06PM (#33895576) Homepage

    (Only the Nexus one and some tablets have 2.2).

    Wrong. Droid, Droid 2, Droid X from Motorola are all on 2.2.

    HTC has several 2.2 Phones (Incredible, Evo 4G, Desire)

    Your information is dated.

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

    by afex ( 693734 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @12:06PM (#33895580)
    it is not different, and we (android users) still have the same problem that PC gamers have: random video card glitches, this game doesn't work while i have program X open, game X performs better in SP3 compat mode, etc. I'm not for or against it, but it is absolutely an issue. One of the reasons i have moved 75% of my gaming to the console - just pop the disk in and get a polished experience.
  • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

    by molnarcs ( 675885 ) <> on Thursday October 14, 2010 @12:31PM (#33895988) Homepage Journal
    Eventually I just RTFA, yeah yeah I know - and what I said above is not targeted at this particular developer. For those who didn't RTFA, TweetDeck's blogpost only mentions how proud they are that their app runs on over a hundred combinations of hardware and ROM versions. Their app is exactly the kind of example I had in mind for the developers who can do (vs. the devs who just whine).
  • Re:BS (Score:4, Informative)

    by MrCrassic ( 994046 ) <<deprecated> <at> <>> on Thursday October 14, 2010 @12:52PM (#33896452) Journal
    Not entirely true; a good deal of Android ROMs implement changes at the system level. The latest version of Cyanogenmod, for instance, has a modified kernel that uses BFS scheduling instead of the default (round-robin?), uses a modified audio library stack (for supporting system-wide DSP effects and equalizer), and uses Apps2SD for space-constrained devices, just to name a few. Testing on all of *those* platforms IS a nightmare, especially since those ROMs have issues even with native apps! However, I would think that targeting the most popular platforms (Android 2.2, 2.1 and 1.6 stock, along with the Droid and Galaxy S ROMs) would be much more reliable, since most people run one of those variations anyway.
  • by Real1tyCzech ( 997498 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @12:59PM (#33896626)

    "All the new phones out there are all crippled."

    Now that's just flat-out bullshit. Are you lying on purpose, or was it simply an error of exaggeration because you are, without any doubt, totally and completely....wrong.

    I just bought a Verizon Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate 2 weeks ago.

    Yesterday I rooted it, installed an overclocked kernel, and wireless tethering. All without spending a dime. All in less than 10 minutes. It runs the Zeam Home-Launcher, Skyfire browser, a 3rd party camera app (Vignette), and about a dozen other "customizations".

    I would hardly call this device the least.

    It may take a whopping 15 minutes to get it back to stock if it is necessary when 2.2 is released OTA.

    If you have to stretch the truth to make your point...perhaps your point is simply not worth making.

  • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:02PM (#33896684)
    The summary is Apple advertising ... again.
  • Re:So? (Score:2, Informative)

    by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:06PM (#33896762) Journal

    Then 1.5 doesn't count since it's share is less than that of Vista (sitting at 13%) compared on the Windows platform. I'm not sure where they are getting 100+ versions though. Wikipedia has them sorted by usage:

            * Android 2.1 (Eclair) - 40.4%
            * Android 2.2 (Froyo) - 33.4%
            * Android 1.6 (Donut) - 16.4%
            * Android 1.5 (Cupcake) - 9.7%

    I count four of which two are major holders. 1.5 and 1.6 are minimal. I would consider 1.6 an after thought at best from this point forward. Considering it holds just a few percentage points more than Vista's percentages... maybe you'd consider that one a non-event as well. That narrows things down to two.

    If you want to include different handsets you can compare that in with the PC market. Different GPUs, different keyboard layouts, different monitor resolutions... there's no difference.

  • Re:So? (Score:2, Informative)

    by hufman ( 1670590 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:22PM (#33897082)
    XP Mode is not at all suitable for video games. It is implemented as an application-level Remote Desktop into the XP virtual machine, and Remote Desktop does not have any support for graphical acceleration.
  • Not a real problem (Score:2, Informative)

    by mafian911 ( 1270834 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:14PM (#33897954)
    Hey all. I don't really see a problem with the fragmentation. I developed Cubes, a game that largely depends on device hardware and capabilities. I have over 36k active users, and the only real complaint I get is that it runs a little choppy on some of the underpowered models. The real trick is the same for PC: Don't code to specific hardware. Poll the system for capabilities. Implement logic for resizing/rearranging the UI. Android is not meant to be like iOS, where the hardware is strictly controlled. Android is successful because it can target hundreds of device profiles. Because of that, you have to write your apps a little smarter.
  • Re:So? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:24PM (#33898082)

    Android has QA test suite. Checkout the android cts (compatibility test suite )

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:40PM (#33898316) Homepage Journal

    DOS well and truly *was* a crap gaming platform, chum. Since you've got your rose-colored glasses on, let's look back:

    Segmented memory architecture (640K conventional RAM, 64K in the high-memory-area, and *five* different ways of accessing anything past 1MB:
        * Direct, using INT15 in the BIOS
        * Expanded memory, whose spec had two major versions
        * Extended memory (XMS)
        * DOS Protected Mode Interface
        * Virtual Control Program Interface

    In addition, there were *no* standards or standard drivers for accessing hardware. Game devs almost always had to write their own sound and video drivers, for example.

    On top of that, you had to configure DOS so the damned thing could run your game. Some games needed 600K of conventional RAM and some expanded memory, other games needed 4MB to themselves and so nothing could load on boot, and you had to worry about loading utilities to configure the sound hardware. Sometimes you had to load another utility to make your video hardware be VESA BIOS compliant.

    The old Macs had a ton of faults, but for gaming you can't seriously claim that DOS was anything but a disaster. We just didn't know any better at the time.

  • Re:So? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2010 @05:07PM (#33900562)

    What the hell are you talking about? There's a basic minimum spec that Android phones have to conform to if they want the little android logo including touch screen with a certain size, GPS, and so on. This is exactly the same as what you praise MS for.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @08:19PM (#33902902) Journal

    iOS is a locked down OS on locked down hardware. Of course it's not going to have the same issues.

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