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New Android guidelines admit, promise to cure fragmentation

updated 02:15 pm EDT, Tue May 10, 2011

Google program to minimize Android fragmentation

Google used its Google I/O day one keynote for a rare admission that Android was fragmented as well as a plan to solve it. The company is starting up a formal group to establish guidelines for both how quickly Android devices would get updated after new releases as well as a guaranteed timeframe during which they would get updates. Members of the program are initially promising to keep upgrading devices for at least 18 months after they're released "if the hardware allows."

Initial partners will include phone makers like HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson, as well as carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Vodafone. Other companies are welcome to join.

The remarks acknowledge mounting problems in Android with consistently receiving upgrades. While some phone makers like HTC are relatively quick with updates, most phones end up waiting months after Google has released a new platform before they get it and in some cases never get it at all, even if the hardware is fully capable. Samsung in particular has developed a reputation for poor updates, often delaying upgrades by several months and abandoning phones after their first update.

Most of the splintering has come from phone builders that have insisted on custom interfaces for differentiation, which sometimes improve the experience but almost always delay updates. Only Google's reference phones, such as the Nexus One and Nexus S, get new versions of Android quickly. The lack of support has been an easy target for Apple, which has flaunted the speed and consistency of updates on iOS as a major edge.

Presenting a strategy to solve fragmentation is also a direct contradiction of Google's own executives. Both former CEO Eric Schmidt and mobile VP Andy Rubin have previously denied fragmentation even existed and made questionable claims about how well supported Android apps were on most devices. Many apps, including Google's own, will only run on the most recent version of Android and have frequently locked out the majority of Android users from experiencing new technology until several months later.

The company appeared to acknowledge this in a follow-up statement, where it admitted that the pace of Android itself was often wasted when the devices weren't following suit. "Innovation only matters if it reaches consumers," Google said.


By Electronista Staff


  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Google has taken the first step

    The first step to fixing your condition is admitting you have a problem. On the other hand, using "compatibility as a 'club'" might indicate that fragmentation isn't your only problem...

    Earlier Electronista article re: 'club':

  1. Oliver_Clozoff

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2011


    Android: What A Mish-Mash Mess

    What do you expect from a free OS, built by a company whose interest is in selling ads?

    Quit fooling around trying to Frankenstein together a smartphone with hardware from one vendor, free OS from another, UI 'enhancement' plastered on top of that, and shipped out the door.

    Just buy an iPhone (or iPad) and get on with it. Awesome hardware, amazing OS, and all from the same vendor: Apple. Synergy, baby, synergy! Apple has it and you Android-based Frankensteins don't!

  1. Sandman619

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2006


    Do no . . . ?

    So the Google execs lied about the existence of fragmentation ? That is EVIL !

  1. chas_m



    Well, so much for Wrenchy/Clarence/Nat

    Everything he's ever said about Android so far has been exposed as a lie.

  1. facebook_Clarence

    Via Facebook

    Joined: May 2011



    No problem here with the HTC phones, but this is good news. There are so many Androids to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming whereas with the Apple phones you basically have two choices.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. facebook_Timothy

    Via Facebook

    Joined: May 2011


    You forgot one thing...

    "...Just buy an iPhone (or iPad) and get on with it. Awesome hardware, amazing OS..."

    No user replaceable battery! That's right, folks...when your battery dies, you can try taking it to an Apple Store, assuming of course the parts for your "x" generation iPhone are still available. And the 3rd party repair services have even lower parts inventory than Apple, so if you think you'll save a few bucks by going outside of Apple, think again!

    Enjoy your new iPhone while it lasts...approximately 6-12 months. How's that 2 year contract treatin' ya?

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009



    What Frag-mun-tay-shun?
    I'm rockin' a Nexus S. No Frag-mun-tay-shun here.

    That's the price you pay for an open eco-system. It is perfect? No. Is it better than a "Closed" system? Many think so. Is it better than an iPone? It is for me. Whatever the case, the Green Robot is here to stay. Just ask the patent-troll Oracle and their 3 patent infringement claims against Google.


    - Sent from my Android Device.

  1. ethical_paul

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2002


    Oracle a patent troll?

    Ha, good one.

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