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We Need to Talk About Android  

I spoke at a conference near Cardiff recently and in Q&A, I got The Question. I love getting the question.

What's the question? This: 

What's wrong with Android?

I realised, giving my answer, that I've never written down my objections to Android. Before we get into this, let's understand that I'm primarily talking about "what's wrong with Android from the perspective of someone planning a long-term 1:1 deployment in a school". You can argue that these points don't matter in the grand scheme of things but these are the things that I choose to care about in my deployments. I ask these questions of every platform.

As I see it, there are several things currently wrong with Android from a deployment perspective.

Fragmentation

I'm not specifically talking about device fragmentation here. I'm talking about fragmentation of the basic operating system as deployed in the field.

Recently there have been several useful visualisations and articles posted about how quickly new versions of Android and iOS are taken up by the respective installed bases of each platform.

Today, iOS 5 is deployed on the majority of iOS devices in the field. By comparison, variants of Android 2.x remain vastly dominant in the installed base of Android devices. Pxldot recently posted a fascinating comparison – with numbers – of the take-up rates of iOS and Android.

The basic problem is this: Google continues to evolve the core Android OS but they can't get that out to the majority of consumers in a timely fashion. I'm not talking here about user-facing features such as the latest design of the Calendar app or the visual tweaks to the home screen.

I'm talking about APIs. This really matters. I'll talk later about some specific places where it matters a lot, but it matters generally because the the APIs define the power available to third-party developers.

The Android platform is currently stuck in second gear because Google, their OEMs and the carriers can't, won't or simply have no incentive to get the installed base past the Android 2.x API set. There are better and more powerful APIs in Android 4, and there will be better ones again in the future, but developers can't take advantage of them because almost nobody is running the latest OS.

For example, Google recently shipped Chrome for Android which, by all accounts, is a pretty great mobile web browser. Unfortunately, it requires Android 4 and around 1% of the installed base is currently running that release.

 

 

Source: Fraser Speirs

Read more: http://speirs.org/blog/2012/3/6/we-need-to-talk-about-android.html

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