Should Android developers abandon Gingerbread and only support Android 4.0+?
0. phoneArena 24 Feb 2013, 17:29 posted on
The tide is turning. Android devices are continually being upgraded, and older handsets traded in for new. As such, Android 2.3 Gingerbread has finally fallen below 50% of the Android ecosystem; and, within the next few months, Android 2.x should also fall below 50%, while Android 4.0+ gains the majority of the ecosystem. So, we think it's fair to ask the question: should Android developers abandon Android 2.x and only support Android 4.0+?...
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1. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 4487; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)
PhoneArena.com may hide author's name but I would know anyway who is the author of article. Thanks, Michael H. for nice article. :)
2. D.Aceveda (Posts: 301; Member since: 30 Jun 2012)
Should Michael H stop posting questions for titles of articles?
7. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2573; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Ha! You made me check through, and I definitely have been doing that too much recently. I'll try to be better!
4. techguy22 (Posts: 226; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)
eh no. majority of android phones are low ends and also on gingerbread. that is a terrible idea.
9. Berzerk000 (Posts: 3270; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)
Eh, no. The majority of Androids on Gingerbread are 2 year old phones anxiously waiting to be upgraded, or phones whose owners aren't willing to part with them. I know plenty of people with Droid X's and original Galaxy S's and their owners just won't upgrade because their phone works the way they want it to and don't want to transition to a new device.
Also, a small part of the market (maybe 1 or 2%) have the 4.x update ready for them, they just don't update it. My friend didn't upgrade her Razr to ICS for 3 months after it was available.
10. tiara6918 (Posts: 1103; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)
There are many android phones that are low end(galaxy y for example runs gingerbread)but majority are already running ics and up
37. wendygarett (unregistered)
I'm in Asia, and most Asian choose gingerbread more than other until now, not just because of the cost, buy also the Adobe flash....
before the bash, we all know that flash can installed via apk. But Asian know how to value their money and time... They don't waste their extra cash and extra time at the same time just to get flash on jellybean, where you can get cheaper and flash-ready-made device Everywhere...
The reason you say it's terrible idea is because you stayed in the advanced country like Europe or America, where flash is almost extinct... But in Asia still, half of its website still need flash...
8. yowanvista (Posts: 253; Member since: 20 Sep 2011)
Personally nope, a lot of users still own 2.2-2.3 devices and only few of those 2.3 devices were updated to ICS yet alone JB. Not supporting Gingerbread is kinda dumb for now, it may seem plausible when the user base drops significantly or when Google itself discontinues it. (Which won't happen until Froyo gets dropped).
"the simple act of adding support for Android 2.x to your app will make your app less stable" - I disagree, the Android SDK allows developers to target any post-GB API level without compromising any aspect of your App (unless you're using specific features introduced in 4.0+). You don't need to port Apps to GB, Apps made using the Android Design Guidelines will work fine on GB, they'll even feature the new Holo UI if the developer decides to implement it.
On the long run GB may however hold Android back if its user base doesn't decrease, that would force developers to avoid the usage of new elements in their Apps.
12. luis_lopez_351 (Posts: 951; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)
The next thing you know, Android becomes exclusive to Google's(USA) Motorola. After all, Americans are finally realizing that we need to be more competitive in order to keep the life styles we use to have.
13. 14545 (Posts: 884; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)
They should continue to support the old platform for one main reason. If they don't, they don't run the risk of pissing off the customer at the manufacturer, they run the risk of pissing them off at the entire platform and pushing them away to apple/windows/BB. (mainly apple though). As the customers that are running 2.2-2.3 are usually not as forgiving towards a platform and will be more likely to jump ship if their favorite apps just up and stop working.
18. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2573; Member since: 26 May 2011)
That's what I'm really curious about. There is definitely the risk that people will jump ship to another platform, but before that happens wouldn't they realize that a big problem is that their device never got an update to the newer Android? Couldn't that push manufacturers to be better about updates, because otherwise users will go to another platform?
22. 14545 (Posts: 884; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)
"but before that happens wouldn't they realize that a big problem is that their device never got an update to the newer Android"
One would think that it would be the logical thing to do. But most people aren't logical. My fear is they will just buy into the "fragmentation" hype and assume it is a platform problem. Not saying that I am 100% correct on this, but I do know the people like my fiancee would be the first to find one article online bashing the platform on updates and jump ship. But she, along with many of the others on 2.3 or earlier, also don't buy apps, so it is a double edged sword. She has said to me more than once "why should I pay for apps". From seeing how she responds, and the other none "techies" I'm around, I don't see them doing much research into the issue.
23. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2573; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Yeah. The problem is that for the best results on this, Google would have to make apps visible in the Play Store with the label "This app requires a newer version of Android", but I'm not sure Google would do that.
It falls in line with the gentle push strategy that Google tends to use to get manufacturers to update faster, but it might be a bit too shaming, and annoy manufacturers.
27. 14545 (Posts: 884; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)
I wish Google would do away with the gentle push strategy and force the manufacturers to update phones for 24 months in order to continue gaining access to Gapps on their upcoming phones. You might lose samsung with Bada, but HTC and others would be forced to fall in line. As they don't have the software experience/marketing to start a full blown market on their own. I know this is a pipe dream, but it would be nice to see google take a firm stance for once. It would be for the benefit of the entire platform.
32. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2573; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Google has the market share to be able to push harder. People are tied to Android, so bada and Tizen aren't realistic options right now. Windows Phone would be a more reasonable option for Samsung and HTC.
I just don't see Google changing the strategy though.
40. rusticguy (Posts: 2699; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)
In emerging markets with no Carrier Subsidized phones that risk of jumping to another platform is pretty low. They would just buy a made in China phone or a local brand with latest android version...
If i am getting Micromax A116 for 14k in India why should i buy LUMIA 7x with inferior HW specs for 18k. (INR)
44. iDroid8 (Posts: 155; Member since: 16 Oct 2012)
Most users who are on GB have low end phones that will never be updated to ICS, like galaxy y or htc explorer
and imo, these are the unlikeliest to move to ios-which has no offering is this bracket
as for BB, GB is much better than BB7 and BB10 is way too expensive
even W8 range starts much higher than android
14. evarod48 (Posts: 112; Member since: 30 Oct 2012)
still have gbread on my Droid Incredible. I'm up for an upgrade, but I'm patiently waiting for Verizon to get HTC One, Lumia 920, or S4
16. 14545 (Posts: 884; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)
VZW isn't getting the one. It will never happen. So you might as well get the DNA, or something else. VZW has already, IIRC, confirmed such since they have the DNA. It's like the Rezound was to the One X.
19. gmracer1 (Posts: 646; Member since: 28 Dec 2012)
yeah dude, VZW is not getting the One or 920. There is, however, a new Lumia coming to Verizon. It should be on par with the 920.
I think the DNA, S3, and Razr HD/Maxx HD are the only phones currently worth getting (if you can't wait for something new)
17. gmracer1 (Posts: 646; Member since: 28 Dec 2012)
The majority of GB users are on Boost/Virgin/Metro and other crappy carriers. In terms of the long run, GB should be killed so it forces manufacturers to get on par with up-to-date software and devices. A ton of my custs were so unhappy with older Androids, so it put bad tastes in their mouths and made them switch to other devices--like an iPhone or WP.
I'm sure there are plenty of rebuttals, but those are my thoughts.
21. BiN4RY (Posts: 77; Member since: 22 Jun 2012)
Android 2.3 is like the Windows XP of Android. It's the perfect OS for low end and older phones
24. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2573; Member since: 26 May 2011)
"Low-end" is a constantly changing idea, and even low-end phones can run Android 4.0 these days. Remember, all you need to run Android 4.0 is a single-core CPU and a moderately good GPU (aka the Nexus S).
25. Maxim6194 (Posts: 4; Member since: 24 Dec 2012)
I disagreed with that. My phone was considered top of line (Samsung Infuse) when I bought it less than two years ago. It launched on foyo in the gb era and only got gb after a year. Many devices were abandoned and never got the ics jump.
-droid incredible 2
These are all phones that were considered high end on AT&T and Verizon in 2011 into 2012. None of which have received ics.
26. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2573; Member since: 26 May 2011)
As mentioned in the article, those abandoned devices are all coming up to the end of contract within the next 6 months at the latest. So, developers leaving those devices behind might not be so bad, because the users will be getting new phones soon enough anyway.
29. Maxim6194 (Posts: 4; Member since: 24 Dec 2012)
As an example, the droid charge was only discontinued late summer 2012. To the people that didn't know any better it probably seems like a great deal and ended up buying it as it neared eol. Thus those people will still have the phone for over a year.
30. biophone (Posts: 1877; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
What about the people who don't want to lose there unlimited data plan on verizon or pay full price for a new phone?
34. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2573; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Those people make their choice. I don't see why Google and Android need to hold back progress for the few people that want to keep their grandfathered plan. If you choose that path, you shouldn't expect to have all of the newest software available to you.
If you buy a used Mac, do you expect to have the newest software available? No. But, that doesn't stop the tech from moving forward.
43. biophone (Posts: 1877; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
They should be able to download apps though.
35. Berzerk000 (Posts: 3270; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)
They'll either stick with the phone they have or consider switching to other carriers with unlimited plans (i.e T-Mobile and Sprint). Maybe a handful of them all will find their way into the rooting and modding life, which is really the best of both worlds; keep your unlimited data and get updated.
36. BattleBrat (Posts: 853; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)
This is why I'm Glad I got my RAZR the second it came out, JB is on it's way and then in a few months I get the MOTO X / GS IV It worked out perfectly
39. akbar (Posts: 55; Member since: 09 Feb 2012)
They might be coming to the end of contract in US, but please think for the rest of the world where not everybody is getting their phones "fro free". If I gave 400-500 USD for a phone I might expect it to last more than 2 years.
45. faisolbauuz (Posts: 121; Member since: 05 Jan 2013)
Well its simple just flash any 4.x custom rom on your device and boom you get ics/jb,worried about your warranty ? Just reflash your phone to its original rom
31. Maxim6194 (Posts: 4; Member since: 24 Dec 2012)
I believe it's a fundamental flaw of the whole android exosystem, dare I bring up the "f" word we all dearly hate. This is an area where windows phone and iOS really do beat Android. Manufactures are reluctant to update their phones, and carriers sell android devices far too long.
33. rusticguy (Posts: 2699; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)
I really don't know why so much of a debate when mo0re than 4 billion apps haven;'t been downloaded ever ... yea i wrote "billion" intentionally :D
38. akbar (Posts: 55; Member since: 09 Feb 2012)
They should. I am using Moto XT560 - the only half decent phone with landscape QWERTY and there are no plans to upgrade it. I guess there are also other people still using flagship devices form a few years ago and would not like to upgrade.
I am already pissed as a lot of the applications I am using are not recognizing the move of my 4-way Dpad or the menu key.
Also I don't like the buttons on Android 4 (I have Nexus 7 as well so I know from experience)
41. 9thWonderful (Posts: 227; Member since: 24 Jan 2013)
Leave Gingerbread behind. I'm tired of having to deal w/the software backlash that comes with people that just want a "cheap" smart phone. If these people want to move forward let them upgrade, buy a new phone, purchase off eBay or be lucky enough to receive a hand-me-down of a newer phone.
42. weedl (Posts: 42; Member since: 05 Oct 2012)
mine still gb 2.3 need 4 but never see the light from the maker so must use clockmodwork
46. iBananaScoop (Posts: 12; Member since: 28 May 2012)
"A) coming up for an upgrade very soon, or B) users who purposefully chose an older device (likely because of cost), and may not even use apps as much as those with newer handsets"
C) Poor students who cannot afford an upgrade just yet but aren't complete noobs when it comes to apps and specs.
It's a bit sad we were all put in two groups, none of which apply to me :( ah well, upgrade we shall see each other soon
47. ddragon2105 (Posts: 2; Member since: 17 Jul 2011)
I think that they should just focus on 4.0+ if they can get everyone on 4.0+ lol. That way you won't have to worry about anything under 4.0. Also, if the majority of Adnroid devices were on 4.0+, then it would make sense to only focus on 4.0+ but that's not the case.
48. divinituss (Posts: 1; Member since: 31 May 2013)
I agree with the author. Had been developing for API level 15+ since fall last year. Unless you can make do with HoloEverywhere, no hardware acceleration and unelegant option menus, I strongly suggest developers to target higher API levels during development.
Or at least as far as developing apps for the community, I don't see a need to support older devices and risk jeopardising the user experience. Those with older devices will not even see your app listed in the Play Store anyway.