Smartphones optimize

Android fragmentation is real

Android fragmentation might be just what the Market ordered. Ken Hardin has the details.

"Fragmented" doesn't sound good, no matter how you spin it. So it's no wonder that Google boss Eric Schmidt tried to re-position the growing number of releases and versions of his company's Android OS as "differentiation" at this week's CES 2012. It's also no wonder that most observers, such as CNET's Stephen Shankland, cried foul. After all, folks have been talking Android fragmentation for more than a year now. It's too late to get ahead of that curve.

As of October 2011, several leading Android devices had been released and/or were running on OSs that were more than one version behind the current major release, according to this interesting chart at TechCrunch. Out-of-date is just one definition of "fragmented," of course, and does not necessarily speak to concerns about "differentiated" versions released by specific device vendors, such as Amazon with its Kindle.

A post by ZDNet blogger Tom Foremski cites a well-circulated post by entrepreneur Antonio Rodriguez, who called Android's future as the "mortar" of the post-PC Internet a "charred corpse." Rodriguez claims three key events lit Android's funeral pyre:

  • Google buying Motorola and getting into the handset market
  • Microsoft getting IP licensing fees from Android handset makers
  • And, of course, Kindle

However, "forking" tends to be the fate of most freely distributed software. The fact that Apple iOS devices all run neatly on the same operating system looks tidy in the TechCrunch chart, but, as Foremski notes, many telecos don't want to be put in the same corner as PC manufacturers, who operate on slim margins, while a near-monolithic OS/chip consortium sucks most of the juice out of their market.

The same market dynamic may face developers, as well. A piece at GigaOM last month on the release of an SDK to span Kindle Fire and Nook Color "differentiations" deals with the forking of Android in a matter-of-fact tone (sorry, Mr. Schmidt). In fact, it even goes so far as to suggest that the Kindle and Nook may be more fertile grounds for developers who are actually looking to sell applications, since users are primarily customers of for-fee content the second they pick up the devices.

About

Ken Hardin is a freelance writer and business analyst with more than two decades in technology media and product development. Before founding his own consultancy, Clarity Answers LLC, Ken was a member of the start-up team and an executive with TechRe...

89 comments
arq313
arq313

I think future is of Android. androidcomplex

edwardtisdale
edwardtisdale

Can you explain Fragmented is when files get saved in pieces on separate non-contiguous parts of the storage device, thus Windows Defragmenter is needed in Windows. That's the only definition of defragmented in the IT world, so I am guessing you are saying what you said as a sort of abstraction.

Hazydave
Hazydave

Like freedom (and not inconsequently, because of freedom) there are different kinds of fragmentation. A few of these are actually bad for users. Most are not, and are of far more use to anti-Android pundits who can't find much else to claim against Android. The kind of fragmentation that would actually hurt users is API FORKING. Which we pretty much don't have on Android. This would mean, for example, that different applications would have to be written for different vendors' devices -- it wouldn't be practical to make apps that do small adaptations for one vs. the other. A good example is on iOS.. a pure iPad tablet doesn't run on the iPhone.. you need to get the iPhone version of that app. And even at that, just as in the Android world, it's possible to write "universal" applications. Another claimed fragmentation is OS revision. This doesn't actually affect users as much as it might seem, because applications are still usually able to adapt. Sure, some new capabilities come along in new version of the OS.. that's the only way a platform grows. And you might have other problems running things on an older phone (more below), but things are rapidly evolving on all smartphone platforms. While users certainly WANT the latest and greatest on their phones, this doesn't usually have a practical effect -- they still get the apps they need, the functionality they need, etc. Not that there isn't room for improvement. The problem with Android right now is that an update is a two-step process... Google releases the general OS, but can't customize it for any device other than Nexus devices (the ones they actually control). So it's left up to Motorola, HTC, Samsung, etc. which devices will get a port of a new release, and which are deemed "too old". This has always been an issue with consumer electronics companies... same reason you might not have been able to get compatibility updates for your older DVD or Blu-ray players. CE companies don't think of support in the same way computer companies traditionally do. Google using an intermediate interface, like a BIOS or HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) would allow one "generic" release, say, of ICS, to run on every device with a HAL loader, unchanged. It might not be optimized, but it would run. Apple does the ports of iOS themselves, and only had one line of product, so they've avoided the irregular update issue. But it's not proven to be a real problem in most cases, just an annoyance. The third fragmentation is a real one.. and just as much of a problem on iOS or other smartphones. That's the rapid evolution of devices. Apple doesn't port the older iOS to early iPhones (no iOS 5 on the iPhone 2 or iPhone 3, for example), because they claim these devices can't support the OS. Google reportedly has ICS running on the Nexus S, but won't put it on the original Nexus One, for the same reasons. Even aside from OS support issues, some things just won't work on older gear. No different from the PC world, only that smartphones are growing really fast in power. My recently retired two-year-old Motorola "O.G." Droid ran a single core ARM Cortex A8 processor at 550MHz... pretty state-of-the-art back then. It had 512MB of on-device flash, 256MB of on-device RAM, 852x480 display, etc. Two years later, my Galaxy Nexus has a dual core ARM Cortex A9 at 1.2GHz (at least 5x performance boost), 32GB on-device flash, 1GB on-device RAM, 1280x720 screen, etc. A typical boost in PC performance over a two-year span is 25-35% if you're lucky... not 500%. And Apple's moving nearly as fast on the CPU side, actually faster on the GPU side. Two years ago, the iPhone 3GS had a fairly also-ran GPU... the iPhone 4S has the fastest GPU on any mobile phone. If you find a game for the iPhone that really taps the power of the 4S, it's going to be horrible on the 4, unplayable on anything before that. Natural evolution is, in fact, the most meaningful-to-the-user kind of fragmentation, because it's the one that really can prevent new applications from running on one's existing hardware. And yet, this plagues every platform. And it's the one thing necessary for platform growth. Look at Palm, RIM, SymbianOS, and Windows Mobile... platforms that didn't grow device performance very fast. They're all dead and dying. Android and Apple, respectively, have been improving the fastest... and they're leading the market ... together, over 90% of the smartphone market last quarter, and still taking share away from the others. All of the other platforms are fighting over that less-than-10% and shrinking market, and all are having trouble keeping up on technology. Plenty of pundits claim specs don't matter, and of course Apple doesn't push them.. but everyone knows Apple's specs anyway. And it's hard to argue against the clear fact that the ecosystems with the best devices are clobbering those with the weak hardware.

jacob3273
jacob3273

I haven't gotten into downloading a lot of apps onto my Toshiba Thrive, but it's been performing very well for what it does.

meski.oz
meski.oz

And people say it like its bad. From a tech POV, perhaps, but hardly from marketing and sales.

roger151
roger151

Deja vu. J2ME. What's changed?

spiralingcrazies
spiralingcrazies

I bought into the Android cool aid. It is a very fragmented OS, and I am suffering because of it. On Archos tablet that is under 6 month old, the OS update already invalidated the USB port that read external drives and it is going back for a factory refurb (under warranty). The system itself is a huge memory leak with most applications being unable to shut off, and you have to use a 3rd party app just to tell your browser to shutdown. In the meantime it is leaking all your private data to Google...

jsargent
jsargent

Isn't it fragmented to support the vast number of different devices that Android is running on? Of-course IOS shouldn't be fragmented since it's totally proprietary and it only runs on hardware made by Apple. Where is the discussion? Do those dummies that complain about fragmenting want everybody to have the same hardware? It makes sense to have fragmenting. In Android, and with a little thought about screen size, can create an App to be easily compatible with both my samsung galaxy II and my Samsung Galaxy 10. If it works on those two then you can get it to work on anything. Android gives the choice to choose hardware and keep the same applications on everything.

Jon_Elliott
Jon_Elliott

Surely this is an argument over very little? Some people like to be more regimented or need to rely on something constrained but yet reliable. Other people like to have the freedom and ability to at least have the ability to so what they like, when they like. As for me... I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 - Bad points... Battery life (i'll live with that). Good points... It's an awesome phone (even after being updated). Some apps work well and some don't... All of the apps I need work well. One thing is for sure... It beats a Windows OS!

GreyGeek77
GreyGeek77

about half of the Android phones are not being updated. Microsoft has extorted "license fees" for unproven IP patents (it's cheaper to sign than fight) from about half ot the makers of smartphones featuring Android. B&N said that the patents cover only arbitrary, outmoded and non-essential design features, but that Microsoft is charging extremely high licensing fees, essentially bumping up the price of free Android and giving Microsoft the power to stop individual features from being implemented. Because B&N refused to sign the NDA they were able to reveal that part of the license terms was that Android phones could not be updated with updates or later versions, locking the Android user into previous, less powerful releases. B&N supplied evidence of prior art and of the triviality of the patents Microsoft used to bludgeon other smartphone vendors: http://androidcommunity.com/barnes-noble-reveals-microsofts-android-patents-in-detail-20111114/ It's all part of Microsoft's desperate plan to extend their monopoly from the PC to the smartphone as the PC market shrinks, especially since Microsoft's smartphone marketshare has dropped from 15% several years ago to less than 2% today. http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2011/11/barnes-noble-microsoft-using-patents-to-cripple-android-competition.ars Groklaw adds more details: "Barnes & Noble asserts that Microsoft is attempting "to use patents to drive open source software out of the market," saying it, in essence, is acting like a patent troll, threatening companies using Android with a destructive and anticompetitive choice: pay Microsoft exorbitant rates for patents, some trivial and others ridiculously invalid or clearly not infringed, or spend a fortune on litigation. " http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=2011111122291296 Meanwhile, Microsoft's "Technical Evangelists" (creations of James Plamondon, who did a Mea Culpa when the Comes vs Microsoft trial revealed his roll in unleashing those digital terrorists on an unsuspecting public) astroturf forums like these denigrating Android and attributing the lag in Android updates to poor Google management.

branty1970
branty1970

We're a school trying to include as many platforms as possible into our teaching so that pupils leave with a true feel for the world. However, Apple just works, Microsoft works well and Android has been a pain in the next to get connected. Something as simple as setting up a proxy server is fraught with problems. Different versions from different manufacturers all do it differently if they do it all! Google needs to take control or most people will turn their backs on the operating system and go eleswhere. I've been an ardent supporter of Android for the last couple of years but recent weeks have made me seriously consider my position. To get a tablet connected to our network so that we can use web services via a proxy: Apple 5 minutes (probably less), Microsoft 5 minutes, Android 3 days and counting!!!!

tommy
tommy

... is what you get on a HDD, and it's a bad thing. Open source software was designed to be played with so that developers who placed a priority on a specific level of functionality over another could develop the product their own way. That's a good thing. iOS is developed with one product stream in mind. You want the Apple vision? Then go buy iOS. If you want something else, then the choice of phone is as much down to the way that the different manufacturers play with Android as anything else. For example, I have an HTC phone (I love it) and my wife has a Motorola. They both run the same release of Android (according to the blurb) they're both pretty swift with regards the use of the OS, but I wouldn't touch my wife's phone with yours... Motorola have dicked around with the interface to a ridiculous level. She likes it very much though, so there is no right or wrong. The point is, however, that both of us opted for something other then iPhones, and as far as the fragmentation of the Android OS is concerned, our two phones couldn't be more different, yet we each like our own respective choices. The evolution of the Android OS is a differentiation between iterations as different manufacturers offer their own view of what the user experience should be. That's user choice. A good thing. I'll be pissed off when I have to start downloading a manufacturer specific app to achieve a goal. As long as app's remain ubiquitous to a specific release of Android, long may the "fragmentation" of the OS continue.

cwarner7_11
cwarner7_11

One thing missing from this discussion is an acknowledgement that Android-derived phones are appealing to the people that buy telephones. Look at the market share numbers and trends. Why do customers prefer Android phone? Is it only the cost, or could it possibly be that customers are telling developers they have the formula wrong? The fact that developers are unhappy with the "fragmentation" is not an indication that the users are frustrated. I am not familiar with the statistics from which the "return rates" cited above were derived, but, if they are correct, it would suggest that the complainers are missing the message of the market. A large segment of the market for smart phones is telling the industry what is important to them. If you want to sell apps into this segment of the market, you had better listen to the preferences expressed by the community. What is good for the IT industry is not necessarily good for the end user.

twinstc3
twinstc3

I use this OS on my HTC and I have no idea what this article is even talking about. What I do know is I dont have any issues with my phone and all the apps work as intended. If possible if theses articles can be dummyed down a little bit I might actually read them. Otherwise, I guess I have to go somewhere else.

JJFitz
JJFitz

Is the lack of Siri support for iPhone models prior to 4s considered fragmentation? I think it is a ploy to get iPhone users to upgrade.

dankasnitzel
dankasnitzel

Even the great Woz said he wished his iPhone could do the things his Android does. Pretty solid endorsement coming from the REAL creator of everything Mac. Although People still think Stevie boy did it all on his own.

mkottman
mkottman

Forgotten in the discussion of fragmentation is that the MacOS and by extension the iOS ecosphere are forks of the Unix world which has also been highly fragmented. By forking it once again to create MacOS and tightly controlling their branch Apple has created their own little golden castle. This is exactly the game that Amazon is attempting with the Kindle Fire and to a lesser extent B&N with the Nook. The question is if either of them will be able to create the kind of differentiation that Apple has. I can see this (over the next 3-5 years) coming down to 4 players; Apple iOS, Motorola Android, Amazon Kindle, and Nokia Windows Phone (or whatever they call it these days). The other companies won't disappear but they will be all playing the low price game like netbooks today.

radleym
radleym

and next time, use due dilligence when shopping. Or buy an iPhone.

Hazydave
Hazydave

The very purpose of an operating system is to provide a common "socket" for the same applications to "plug-in" to a vast number of different devices. This isn't rocket science.. it's been the case for generations of personal computers. Heck, look at Apple.. they've twice been able to jump not just to different hardware architectures, but different CPU architectures. Both times with practically no disruption in user experience. Even Microsoft's managed to move Windows from 16-bit to full 32-bit to full 64-bit, on original PCs, ACPI PCs (which changed the hardware model quite a bit) and even big server systems that really don't follow the PC architecture anymore, all with the same identical Windows binary -- they don't even have to customize the OS to the hardware. This isn't the 8-bit days anymore, when applications were written for specific hardware. Sure, if your smartphone is lacking a needed resource (too little RAM, too slow a GPU, no front-facing camera, etc) you're going to have issues with some apps. That's true of iOS too... any game that really pushes the iPhone 4S is going to run lousy on the iPhone 4 and should be unplayable (or an entirely different game) on the 3GS... and those are all currently-sold models. The OS itself is not that much of a practical source of fragmentation.. it's the rapid evolution of mobile devices that's the largest factor. Software always grows to fill the available hardware. That doesn't mean the emailer you ran last year will stop working on your old phone, but it does mean that, over time, resource intensive applications, not possible in the past, will come to new hardware. And that's the kind of fragmentation users are going to see in the real world, on any successful platform.

chris.smith
chris.smith

I am a .NET developer and have also been coding in Android for 6 months and also dabbling in iOS/objective-C. This whole android frag thing is blown out of proportion. The continuous stream of articles I see about the doom and gloom of android fragmentation are a joke and at best just filler content for a website (tech republic - you are guilty of this). Give it a rest guys, fragmentation comes with choice and is a necessary evil. What are you most concerned with - choice or fragmentation? Some of the other commenters above are correct - most of this android frag talk is coming from tech bloggers (your "analysts" like Mr. Hardin here) and not from the developers. Whose opinion really provides the most insight here - the devs in the trenches doing the android code or the tech blogger who sits on the outside speculating and regurgitating the same stuff he reads on other blogs? Lets be honest here, fragmentation is already rampant - look at Windows with its 2000/XP/Vista/7/2008/CE/Mobile 6.0/WP7 etc all out in the wild. Windows devs can handle it and OEMs can handle it, why can't the same thing happen in the Android ecosystem? It can and it will. Fragmentation is necessary for choice.

DJMorais
DJMorais

Pish, tosh! Don't misunderstand me, I am not a huge fan of M$ either, but there are some things that don't smell right here. For instance, I love the statement in the first paragraph "...Bumping up the PRICE of FREE Android..." hmmm, do you see a slight problem with that statement? I do! The micro-second you put a PRICE on anything, it isn't FREE anymore, is it? I could be wrong, but I don't think so! The other thing I am struggling with is where it is claimed that M$ is charging high licensing fees for certain patents. Well, if they are patents, and M$ legally obtained them AND the U.S. government granted them, then it's their patent and they can do with it what they want. You don't like it and dont want to pay? Go develop your own stuff and stop whining about the fact that you must pay someone who developed something ahead of you! It will be interesting to see what comes of this legal fight, but if the patents are infact legit then the courts must honor them I would think. I guess we'll have to stay tuned. As far as the fragmentation argument, that is the eventuality with open source, like it or not. It's open, people! If you are not comfortable in that space, you have at least two other choices you can make. So stop whining and go play with your phones!

Papapau
Papapau

Just tried what you said.. Connected my tablet on our network, well 7 mins... and if ever that 5mins + 3 days would ever happen to me, which it won't because i'm not dumb stupid to wait for that and troubleshoot immediately, It would be impossible for me, an ardent supporter, to change sides just because of that single problem due to ignorance..

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

The original concept of Android, as mentioned by somebody else above, was to have a common platform where an Android app would run on all Android devices. Now even if you ignore the current several different versions of Android available (meaning 2.x/3.x/4.x) and just look at the different OEMs, it seems no two brands work exactly the same unless they have the Nexus name attached which means Google personally had a hand in its development. This, my friends, is fragmentation and just as fragmentation is bad for a hard drive, it's bad for the OS environment as well.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Are you both getting patch updates promptly from your hardware vendor after the patch is available to Google's parent distribution? If not, are you concerned by the unaddressed vulnerabilities increasingly being discovered and exploited?

mfa
mfa

The only reason I bought my Android phone was that Verizon recently offered a 4GB-for-the-price-of-2 data plan if you bought a 4G phone. I'm committed to Verizon because of an attractive legacy plan, and expect my data usage to rise, so bought a phone that qualified me for this plan. As soon as the iPhone is available on the Verizon 4G network, I'll probably switch back to it. In the meantime, I'm learning more and more about my particular incarnation of Android, which will help me in my future decision.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... roughly 92% of all iPhone activations this last quarter were for the 4S while the 3G(s) came out at only 1% despite being free (with contract).

rpollard
rpollard

I don't think so. I think it's the requirement to have more processing power more than that. Although it wouldn't be a bad move for the bottom line.

rpollard
rpollard

Of course he wants it to work like an Android as all techies do! No surprise and not the opinion of the average user!

bemayo
bemayo

Sorry, but you could not be more wrong. Woz created the Apple I and Apple II. He had no involvement whatsoever on the Mac. I don't even think he was with the company any more when the Mac was developed. Depending upon your preferences, Jef Raskin or Steve Jobs is the father of the Mac. There were, of course, a lot of other people involved in the project, but Woz was not one of them.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Reports indicate that he sees value in both platforms. Android for flexability if one is going to take the minimal time to become familiar with it. IOS for those already invested in the Apple product line or that will never take the minimal time to become familiar with a mobile device. Both OS have there place and target users. But, as an engineer, he seems to prefer the flexability of Android for his personal use.

tjmajka
tjmajka

They are not trying to build golden castles. They are trying a different tactic once employed by AOL. Give the consumer more choices and things to do in your world, they spend less time outside it and more money in it. These guys dont care about the rooting, they think if they offer enough services at a reasonable price people won't root. They could be right too! But I dont any similarity between Amazons treatment of the situation or it's competition, and Apple's methods. Apple offers what they must at the absolute highest price they can without enciting a riot outside the building! All with good integration, also less expensive for them since anyone who wants to offer anything outside their golden castle must sign aggreements and pay out the nose to do so. Hence perfectly micromanaged integration and controled pricing!!!

mkelly210
mkelly210

....and how much marketshare does MacOSX hold?

danbi
danbi

Apple never denied that theyr MacOS is based on BSD UNIX. However, an OS is generally more defined by the APIs it provides -- and Apple has put their APIs on top of BSD UNIX. Amazon does not claim that it's Kindle Fire run Android. Precisely for the same reasons. Unfortunately, the concept of Android was advertised as to allow seamless interopability. Now, that the truth has been revealed, things will only get worse.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

In the Unix world, seporate distributions have represented themselves as indaviduals. AT&T Unix did not claim to be AIX Unix. In the Linux based distro sub-set, Red Hat Enterprise does not claim to be SUSE; they are seporate products from seporate companies. In the Android world, we have several seporate companies claiming to ship Android while making vendor specific customizations that introduce incompatibility between devices. We also have significant fragmentation introduced by those third party vendors not shipping update patches or upgrade firmware keepign devices in line with the current major version of Android. If the vendors where honest about shipping child forks of Android, they would do represetn them as "ourOS based on AndroidOS" and provide there own software and content repositories along with timely updates and such.

Papapau
Papapau

I nominate this for android quote of the year... "Fragmentation is necessary for choice." - chris.smith I guess some people wants ALL people in the world to have only 1 type of handset.. weird..

radleym
radleym

MS wants (and gets) license fees without even disclosing which patents are violated, unless you pay up to take them to court. That's the threat. Even if the so-called violations have merit, MS is still taking an underhanded approach. That's also why they like to go after the guys like B&N, who don't have nearly as deep pockets.

branty1970
branty1970

Do you really think I'd sit and watch a screen for 3 days!! Of course we're troubleshooting. That's wht we do. I'm making the point that if a technically savvy individual can't make this work what hope does Joe Average have? Unless they're lucky enough to have bought a phone or tablet from the right manufacturer they're stuffed. It's not a single problem - it's huge!! Who makes an operating system for mobile devices - to be used 'anywhere' that can't connect via a proxy? I love Android but this and several other issues we've had - all due to fragmentation and lack of control of the OS - mean that the system just doesn't work for us. Unless we pay top dollar for the best kit from the big manufacturers. We're a school - we have no money!!

radleym
radleym

"it seems to me". I haven't run into this horrible problem in a year - I use the same apps now running Android 4.0 (alpha) as I do running 2.x, with a few exceptions on the alpha platform. I have about 150 apps loaded.

radleym
radleym

First I've heard - do you have references?

Hazydave
Hazydave

the reason Verizon offered the bonus 4G plan IS the iPhone. For whatever reasons, iPhone users seem to consume a ton of bandwidth. Verizon may have an overall better network, but their 3G technology is about half the speed of AT&T's, peak. So that means that the same number of iPhone users on Verizon will put twice the load on the network. Verizon's cure is simple: since nearly every other smartphone is on 4G, they're trying to lure as many users are possible to 4G. While they don't have universal 4G coverage, it's actually pretty good outside of the boondocks (where I live, but don't work).. and in fact, 4G is good in just the places 3G congestion is likely to be an issue. My point being, when/if the iPhone 5 or 6 or 7 or whatever supports LTE, no one's going to have any motivation to discount the 4G services anymore. If Verizon sticks to their current policy, you can probably transfer your "double data" plan to the iPhone, just as I was able to transfer my "unlimited" plan from the OG Droid to the Galaxy Nexus. Of course, they could stop allowing transfers any time they like... and even today, I'd check the fine print on that once, and see if it's actually transferable on an uprade.

JJFitz
JJFitz

Or maybe it is because 3G(s) owners were upgrading to 4S. Or maybe it is because the iPhone just became available on the Sprint network in October of 2011. Or maybe it is because the iPhone became available on the Verizon network in February of last year and Verizon customers were eligible for an upgrade in the last quarter. Or maybe it is because Apple had not released any new iPhone hardware in 14 months. Not counting a new color iPhone (white) as a hardware change. That was probably a boost for sagging sales. Or maybe it is a combination of all of the above including your suggestion.

The_Dude_Abides
The_Dude_Abides

And that is why fragmentation occurs, among other reasons. What I hear you saying is that if Apple causes fragmentation, it isn't fragmentation. If Android does, it is.

Tech-er
Tech-er

how can it be a processing power requirement? All the work is done in the "cloud". Siri doesn't work when you don't have network connectivity, does it?

radleym
radleym

There must be a LOT more "techies" out there than "average users".

radleym
radleym

Woz is an engineer. Jobs was a salesman/manager who was great with "concepts".

Hazydave
Hazydave

.. with Woz (who, of course, created the Apple ][ machines, not the Mac). As an engineer and personal computer creator myself (Amiga 2000, 3000, ... ) I'm very happy with Android. It just keeps getting better, in good ways, and I'd recommend it to most of the people I know... younger folks, tech folks, etc. I'm able to do just about every useful thing on my Android tablet that I could do well on my laptop. Sure, I can technically run my CAD tools or video/photo tools on my laptop, but they so overwhelm it, it's all but pointless most of the time. I can even bind my Nexus with a mouse and keyboard (Bluetooth) and hack away in a Linux shell if I so desire (haven't yet, but I did on the "Droid" it replaced). However, for Palm-like simplicity coupled with the kind of "gee-whiz" slickness that Apple does well, the iPhone is a legit choice for some people. And I have recommended these to friends who were leaning that way, but somewhat afraid of technology. My 80 year old Mom recently got an iPhone, and she's able to use its features far more effectively than her "feature phone". That's a testament to hand-holding ability of the iPhone. She might have managed on Android, but she would have needed a bit more help. And also why I think Microsoft's campaign to make people think Windows 7 Phone is "easy" compared to other smartphones is doomed... iPhones are awfully close to "as simple as possible, but no simpler".

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... and quite a lot more than it held 5 years ago.

tjmajka
tjmajka

Please enable the sarcasm font before reading. OOOOHHHHH, you mean like way every OEM manufacturer overlays and bloats windows with it's own crap-ware then disabls the shortcut to the built in windows app that already does the same thing?? You are so right! Never seen that kind of thing before! In fact, I would be willing to bet that Android will collapse and die instantly just like Microsoft did! What the heck are you guys talking about?

danbi
danbi

UNIX is not a product (although such trademark exists) it is rather a concept or design technology. Different UNIX flavors have made different design choices and except where there are specific emulation layers/APIs involved they are no application compatible. They are not even source code compatible. For example, you cannot run an MacOS application on any Linux version, although both are "UNIX",simply because the neccesary API to run the application does not exist in Linux. Another example: You can run most Linux software in FreeBSD, because FreeBSD has Linux compatibility API. I agree with you otherwise, but the problem is that Google has made false claims. Those claims promise that any Android device will run any Android application (as long as the API level is sufficient) -- which is not exactly happening. I can see how in the not very distant future, many applications might become even more incompatible, because they were designed for vastly different form-factor and resolution. Android applications of course can be made compatible and all this avoided, but at a cost. Google will have to adopt the Apple model for software development, where no application that goes public can avoid using the official APIs and that the OS will have to take over application behavior -- as this will provide both consistent UI and responsiveness.

mfa
mfa

I did ask that very question, and was assured that the plan would be in effect no matter what phone I might move to in the future. So far, I have neither seen nor read whatVerizon has to say in writing, so it may well be that their assurances aren't worth the paper they're not written on.

mfa
mfa

I have an iPhone 3Gs with no contract, so I a) can't use it as a phone, but b) can do almost everything else in a WiFi environment (e.g., home). It's now running IOS5, but I have no idea when it updated itself. I have an Android (Bionic) to use as a "real" smartphone, and see value in both phones. All in all, I prefer the iPhone, but if the manufacturers and the carriers get their acts together and provide a more consistent platform, I can see my preference changing.

Tech-er
Tech-er

do you mean that the iPhones have fragmentation!?!?!?!?!?

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

In addition, older iPhones have had a hard time running the up-to-date iOS version. I know a lot of local iPhone users who were running pre-iPhone 4 variants who said that updating essentially ruined their phones.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

We may argue points on occasion (OK, frequently) but you make a very clear statement here that I can agree with. I don't hate Android for being Android, I hate it for what it has become on so many different levels. Just like there are good (and bad) Windows PCs, there are good (and bad) Android phones--for many of the same reasons.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Oh, I agree. My error may have been refering to the different Unix distributions. The distribution based on the standard is a product in my view; produced by distinctly seporate companies with different target customers and development goals and so on. The different Unix distributions are the same as the different BSD and Linux based distributions. I can't really see that as fragmentation any more than having two or more toothpaste tubes on the store shelf is fragmentation. Google's claims is bang on where I'm at too. There is just too much incompatibilities introduced by the device vendors' child forks of Android conflicting with the claim that if it's branded "Android" then it will work with any Android app. I hope Google will rangle proper control over the parent distribution and make vendors ship more vanilla installs that get prompt updates from the parent distro. Make the vendors work with Google to get hardware support into the kernel where it belongs or have them provide a mini-firmware driver bundle that flashes to the device along side stock android. Failing that, make vendors clearly represent and support there one-off customizations as proper child fork distributions like Amazon does. Until then, my selection of potential future Android devices will remain Nexus or nothing. I want Android not HTC-OS based on Android and I want proper update/patch reciept. I also agree that Google should exercise more control over the app repositories. Not to the degree of Apple's ham-fisted and half effective policies (good for look/feel, inaffective regarding security claims). I'd love to see them move to a two or three stage repository like Nokia did with Maemo and a number of the major Linux based distros do: - unstable apps (wild west early postings of developer projects) - testing (stable'ish but not yet proven production ready and non-malicious) - stable (production ready, vetted and trusted as much as it can be) there still may be stuff that gets through but there would be much less of it at least. And those who chose to do so could still add/enable testing and unstable applications with informed concent. There are solutions. Android could be far greater than it already is. I just hope it gets there by the time my current handset kicks the bucket (or one of the alternatives breaks out of the lab). I'll still miss having Maemo almost directly based off Debian but one is always limited to what is available at the time of purchase.