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Android co-founder calls fragmentation issue "overblown"

Android co-founder calls fragmentation issue "overblown"

Fri 12 Jul 2013 1:44pm GMT / 9:44am EDT / 6:44am PDT
Mobile

Google Ventures partner Rich Miner says regular users don't notice the issue

In a tech forum hosted by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, Google Ventures partner and Android co-founder Rich Miner said that the fragmentation problem faced by the mobile OS is "an overblown issue."

"I think this is a bit of an overblown issue, frankly," said Miner, according to a report by Xconomy. "Us techies read the blogs and know what features we may be missing. I think if you asked a consumer, 'Do you feel like your phone OS needs to be updated today?' they're pretty happy with the results and the performance they're seeing. So I'm not sure it's a major issue."

Miner said fragmentation will always be a minor problem with the number of Android devices activated each day.

"Don't forget, there are 1.5 million Android phones being activated every single day. There are 900 million devices out in the market," he explained.

Google has done its best to fix the issue and it looks like they may be succeeding. According to stats released by the company recently, the latest version of Android, 4.1+ Jelly Bean, is now on 37.9 percent of active devices. This means the new version has finally surpassed Android's most popular version, 2.3 Gingerbread, which still sits at 34.1 percent. Gingerbread was first released in December 2010.

13 Comments

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
All the one stars on my user reviews speak otherwise.

Typical example: "I loved this game on iPad but it won't run on my new Galaxy S4. One star"

When actually, it runs on Galaxy S4 just fine. Just not his. For any one of a million reasons. It gets bloody old, and I can see nobody in power will fix it as they seem to think it isn't broken.

Posted:9 months ago

#1

Kevin Danaher
Associate Producer

46 62 1.3
The reason most end users don't notice these problems is because developers have to spend loads of time compensating for them in order to release on Android. Hence many of the top games with a nice clean codebase on iOS not being willing to port to Android, the effort can be enormous and the rewards are less (financially) anyway.

Posted:9 months ago

#2

Steven Hodgson
Programmer

77 111 1.4
His speculation as to what users think is the thing that annoys me most about this article

Posted:9 months ago

#3

Tamir Ibrahim
Programmer

74 55 0.7
Typical example: "I loved this game on iPad but it won't run on my new Galaxy S4. One star" When actually, it runs on Galaxy S4 just fine. Just not his.
To be fair, you get this on iOS too. I'm not saying fragmentation isn't a problem on Android but let's not pretend we haven't had/seen one star reviews from people on the App Store because it doesn't run on their device for some reason.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tamir Ibrahim on 12th July 2013 4:38pm

Posted:9 months ago

#4

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,119 889 0.8
I personally think it is to an extent and in some areas more than others, but its still a problem.

Posted:9 months ago

#5

Robert Mac-Donald
Game Designer

57 44 0.8
100percentindie.com invited me to publish my game on their store ( a subset of the Samsung Apps store), and I've spend the majority of the time filtering out devices that are currently not working with Adobe's Air for Android packager (when they should). Now that the game is published, I'm still spending time submitting more phones for testing to see which will make the cut and which won't.

Choice of devices, web browsers, video cards and so on are sure nice, but they take a heavy toll on developers using a lot of time just for compatibility issues - and sometimes on consumers as well when they can't get their games working on their hardware.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Robert Mac-Donald on 12th July 2013 5:49pm

Posted:9 months ago

#6

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
>> To be fair, you get this on iOS too.

Not in my experience. Yes it's happened, but it's always been down to a lame bug in my own code which I can then repro, fix and update. We get no "it don't run complaints" at all now on iOS.

On Android, it's usually down to buggy open gl or other firmware. And the real hair-raiser, and the thing that this article clearly doesn't even pay lip service to, is that there's no such atomic thing as a "Galaxy S4" in the first place!

I think there are about 14 different models of "Galaxy S2", and our game doesn't run on one of them. Not only is this a perfect example of bugged operating system, it also means it's impossible to buy that particular device and try to find a workaround.

Edit: And of course, any GS2 owners who see that review sitting there will give the game a swerve even though they're probably ok. That's costing us money.

And the real screamer, is that this kind of issue is NEVER going away.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 12th July 2013 10:54pm

Posted:9 months ago

#7

Phil Hindle
Technical Director

17 19 1.1
End users might not notice.

Developers certainly do.

By making developers lives easier, allowing them to focus on producing great software and not having to deal with device fragmentation, developers would be able to focus more effort & energy on making better apps. Everyone (Google included) will benefit from this.

Posted:9 months ago

#8

James Boulton
Tools & Tech Coder

120 143 1.2
The amount of work put into getting Android running vaguely nicely compared to iOS is massive. Fragmentation is a massive problem, sticking your head in the sand and saying it isn't doesn't make it go away, Mr. Miner.

I completely agree the only reason the end user is blissfully unaware of quite the magnitude of this mess is the amount of iterations developers go through on their codebase to try and make it run on as many devices as possible.

It ain't fun.

Posted:9 months ago

#9

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

632 223 0.4
that there's no such atomic thing as a "Galaxy S4" in the first place!
Correct. There are 2 major variants of the S4. The octa-core with Adreno GPU an the quad-core krait with PowerVR. However, there are at least a dozen variants of these devices depending on the region with different GSM/CDMA hardware -> and therefore different system software.

Posted:9 months ago

#10

Sam Brown
Programmer

237 163 0.7
@Paul: Which of your games don't run on S2? All of them have "This app is compatible with your device" next to them in the Play store when I look at them on mine. If they don't work on a particular device shouldn't the description say so? Or is that not in your control?

Posted:9 months ago

#11

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
Not really in our control. Their list of excludeable devices is far from up to date, and I'm buggered if I'm taking S2 off the air just because one manufacturer can't be bothered to test stuff. We do have some exclusions, but even this list is too fragmented to properly help.

And in any case it seems a percentage of droid owners love to upload widgets that lie about their system, convinced that this will "improve" something or other. I find it quite believable that someone with a banned device frigged their O/S to download our game and then have the gall to one star it for not running. I've seen it all.

Posted:9 months ago

#12

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