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Not every problem with Android should be called "fragmentation"

0. phoneArena posted on 22 Mar 2012, 16:40

Every single time we post an article about the next Android OS update, there is the inevitable calls about fragmentation, and how Google should fix its "fragmentation" problem, which people claim is exacerbated...

This is a discussion for a news. To read the whole news, click here

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 17:57

29. plgladio (Posts: 314; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)

This really makes sense, so all the manufacturer should update their devices to the latest one in few months. I have read that some where.
So can we hope that going forward we will be getting updates less than 6 months or so?

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:01 2

31. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2707; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Unfortunately, right now the timeline set by Google is 18 months for an update.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:04

33. plgladio (Posts: 314; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)

But I see as "For instance, the members of the update partnership could say that a new device should still be able to receive Android OS updates within the first 18 months of release; however, companies would not be obligated to stick to that guideline, and that does not mean that phones would access every new release"

Is that mean first 18months from the device has been released or OS released? I think device released. Correct me if I'm wrong.


posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:11

36. plgladio (Posts: 314; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)

http://androinica.com/2011/05/android-updates-for - 18 -months/

*please remove the space after hyphen (-)

posted on 24 Mar 2012, 06:07 1

113. Devfrost (Posts: 5; Member since: 24 Mar 2012)

True but manufacturers has prove their words so far
HTC already updated sensations to ICS in europe and will start updating other regions as well
Samsung also have updated S2 to ICS in few regions
Sony well, this one is a bit surprising as it release the aplha and beta of their ics for xperia arc and based on what I see, the beta is already stable and based on their blog, they just need more testing to get the permission to release it.

And all this within a few months of ICS release. And the thing I surprise me is that they outpace custom rom developers in releasing a stable ICS. update. Cyanogenmod still has their ICS (all devices, official or no) in alpha with video recording and hardware acceleration not working.) So this open handset alliance started to show results I think we should start to trust manufacturers more, despite their past before the alliance.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 17:55 2

27. christianqwerty (Posts: 467; Member since: 05 May 2011)

It is fragmented because the samsung galaxy nexus has been the only phone to run the newest version of ICS for a few months now, while phones way more powerful are still limited to an older operating system. Just now the htc vivid is being able to update when ICS came out in december.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:04 5

32. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2707; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Why does that mean the system is fragmented? Apple releases one device with the new software and leaves it to the user to update. Google releases one device with the new software and leaves it to the manufacturers to update.

Calling that fragmentation means you blame Google for the update problem, not the manufacturers, who are the real guilty ones.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:08 2

35. drtech (banned) (Posts: 135; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)

The difference android users don't have the option to update because of the manufacturer not making it available. iOS user have the option to update. BIG DIFFERENCE :)

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:14 6

38. remixfa (Posts: 14604; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

dont know what your talking about. Ive been running ICS for over 3 months now on my SGS1 vibrant.

If users want to update, its there, and in most cases its not all that hard.

the difference is, when the carrier allows the update, the update hits all devices, with or without the user having to know there is an update. on iOS, if you dont hear about the update, you might never know there was one... and thus, add to the "fragmentation" of iOS, if thats what you want to continue to call it.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:51 2

45. drtech (banned) (Posts: 135; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)

1. If you have to hack you're phone to get the latest software you're suffering from fragmentation. I don't have to hack my iPhone to get a software update

2. With iOS 5 there's OTA updates so iOS users get their updates right away just like android users. No iTunes required.

You're wrong on everything you just posted.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 19:15 5

49. iamcc (Posts: 1319; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)

You don't necessarily have to hack the phone to install the latest update yourself.

If the update is leaked it is literally as simple as putting the file on your SD card, naming it "update.zip" and going into the boot loader to install.

If its a custom ROM then yes you would need root access.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 20:32 5

58. remixfa (Posts: 14604; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

apple doesnt even release full versions of the new OS to older phones. Quit fooling yourself. you will NEVER have full iOS5 on the i4 or 3gs... with our without jailbreaking.

with iOS5, which still requires a manual install to get.. good luck getting all iphones on that. well, the ones that get supported for iOS5 that is.. and of course, the ones that get FULL iOS5.. oh wait.. thats just the i4s. woops.

quit thumbing yourself up, its sad.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 22:15

71. drtech (banned) (Posts: 135; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)

Lol so now you change the argument. Why did you post that iOS required iTunes to update? Did you not know or lie? So now you're new argument is its not a full update. Come on you can do better.

Android is fragmented. Deal with it.

posted on 27 Mar 2012, 18:53

133. darkkjedii (Posts: 24343; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)

Not officially.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:37 5

43. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2707; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Still not the point.

posted on 25 Mar 2012, 09:29 1

114. bayusuputra (Posts: 963; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)

dude, it is because apple release it to iDevices, it is like google releasing to Nexus devices.. it is simpler.. if you can't see that, then don't call yourself a doctor of tech..

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 20:10 3

56. KennyWRX (unregistered)


Call it whatever you want (inconsistency, fragmentation, differentiation, division, delay...), but the fundamental PROBLEM is still there. What percent of devices currently being sold in retail stores are able to officially run the current Android 4.x? Now, what percentage of phones are currently being sold in retail stores with an outdated Android 2.x?

When Android progresses from version to version, it miserably fails to provide compatibility with CURRENT devices, not just OLD ones, but CURRENT ones... hence the Android Platform becomes divided into different groups of devices supporting different OS versions of the SAME platform, Android.

Now, by Google's own definition: Fragmentation is the process or state of breaking or being broken into small or separate parts.

Can you see the analogy??

Then you bring up the argument that it's the manufacturers fault, BUT manufacturer will do whatever is in the best interest, an interest that is blindly interpreted as raw sales figures. Their line of thinking is "Why spend resources updating current devices when we can just pop out a new phone with the newer OS?". Whether you like it or not, the delay you talk about which is caused by manufacturers and carriers, CAUSES fragmentation on the Android platform.

I think that Google, as the platform owner, needs to find some COJONES and protect their OS from becoming even more FRAGMENTED than it already is. They do a half a55'ed job at this with their Nexus brand and the whole "Pure Google Experience" marketing BS. The fact that this exists is proof enough to say that the "experience" with Nexus is different than others (HTC/Sense, Samsung/TW, Moto/BLUR) causing FRAGMENTATION not only in the Android OS version sense, but also within groups of devices that support the SAME version of the OS.

Fragmentation need not be necessarily bad, but in the Android situation, it is definitely a negative aspect of the platform. Given a REAL CHOICE, users would choose the current, most feature rich Android OS.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 21:50 3

64. freedomispopular (Posts: 10; Member since: 22 Mar 2012)

Given a choice, I'd say most average end users don't give a crap. They just want a cool phone that works. Outside of the niche that follows tech sites, I'm willing to bet most average users don't even know that Ice Cream Sandwich or Gingerbread is.

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 16:26 2

104. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2707; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Your definition of fragmentation is sound, but the connection to Android is not. Each update for Android does not break anything, nor does it leave out current devices. Android 4.0 is compatible with new devices and many old devices. As I've written before, this is the first update with which Google has really tried to make a leap with Android and that is going to leave out some older devices. That's just the way it is. For everything else, it's on manufacturers to ship devices with the software on it. Good manufacturers, like Asus push out the update in a reasonable timeframe.

Either way, how does this end up with (CAPITAL LETTERS) "fragmentation"? Software updates are a way of live with computers. It doesn't matter what version of Android you have, you can still get on the Play Store and use any app you want. If there happens to be an app that doesn't work, more than likely there is an alternative that will (Netflix and Hulu are exceptions that prove the rule, so please don't bother).

I have an Android 4.0 device and you have a 2.3 device, we can still use the same apps, and have all of the same functionality in our devices. The only difference is that mine has a couple extra features and (depending on opinion) has a better UI. Same thing for a phone with a manufacturer UI. The apps work, the phone works, and all the features work. So what is "broken"?

Nothing. The only thing that's wrong is that you get pissed off because you can't have the newest thing right away. Have a little patience. Stop looking at the Android ecosystem as having an upgrade cycle that goes from December to December, rather look at it as one that has an upgrade cycle from June to June. By June, the vast majority of new devices have the newest software, and most of the top shelf existing devices as well.

There you go, no more supposed "fragmentation" problem. It's a regular update cycle just like anything else. If you think your device updates too slowly, get a Nexus or another stock device that will get the update faster.

All I'm saying is that the main selling point of Android is that users have an experience choice. There is a pure Google experience, but that is just one choice for your experience. Some want a flashier experience, and go with something like HTC. Some want a cleaner, candyish experience, and they usually go with Samsung. What choice are they losing by not having Android 4.0 out immediately? Face Unlock is a gimmick, and Beam only matters if you have NFC. The camera and browser are improved, and the UI is improved. Well, the UI is improved over stock Android, some people prefer manufacturer UIs. And, why would you want to take away that choice from users?

Besides, why does it matter if there is homogeneity in the UI of Android devices? Do you walk around with 3 different phones and get confused by the UI? People learn what they know, if you have a phone for a day or two, you know it. If you like it, stay with that manufacturer. Easy

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 18:12 7

37. remixfa (Posts: 14604; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)



for finally writing something throwing some logic into these idiotic "android is fragmented and iOS is not" fanboy rants. its like... its like someone reached down from the heavens and heard my constant cries for an article that sheds light on iOS fragmentation, to shut iCrazies up.. It could have only been better with hard statistics, which of course, we know are hard to come by.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 19:16 8

50. hepresearch (unregistered)

First of all, excellent article by Michael... thank you!

Now, I have to say that, based on the great majority of comments here, whether from Android fans OR iOS fans, most of you all are missing the point entirely. Apple fans are crying foul on Michael for speaking the truth, and as they protest it seems as though the Android fans are crying foul on Victor... greatly representative of the "other half" of PhoneArena that, to some, appears to push iOS preferences. Neither Victor nor Michael seem too far off-base to me. If anything, they are like two sides of the same coin here at PhoneArena, and at this point you simply cannot have the one without the other.

I think that both Michael and Victor point out great stuff about the Android/iOS controversy. Android and iOS are both excellent platforms for certain kinds of people, and they both have very different styles of operating their businesses and developing new products which cater to their own greater ecosystemic models, and by extension, favored market demographics. Now, they are each trying to expand their favored market demographics to be more inclusive of people who might fall in the middle ground, but even Windows Phone is now poised to start gobbling up folks who fall in between the two marketing demographic extremes.

Android attracts people who are looking for something that gives them a lot of ability to customize, not just the appearance of their devices, but also the deeper settings and even an ever-wider variety of custom ROM's. Android also offers OEM's the freedom to support a wider variety of hardware choices catering to custom needs and purposes in both general and niche markets. As a result, Android devices tend to be on the bleeding-edge of new technology offerings and processing power advances. Android offers a lot of choice, variety, customization, and ease of software tweaking for those who are looking primarily for such things (and, contrary to the belief of some, there IS a decent market for such variety).

iOS, on the other hand, attracts people who are looking for a device that is very simple and elegant to use, and that is designed to perform in a consistent and predictable manner under many different possible conditions. By heavily controlling the design, production, and programming processes, Apple is able to provide that highly-consistent user experience across all of their devices. Although there are a few tweaks and custom ROM options for iOS devices, most who come to iOS do so for the effortless ease-of-use that Apple prides itself in. As a result, Apple tends to cater to its narrowly-defined, but very large, nearly-universal market with offerings on the bleeding-edge of super-usability.

Both are good for what they were designed to do, but it is natural for those who fit the mobile demographics to favor the one that fits them, without always understanding that the coin has another side to it.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 20:00 1

54. tedkord (Posts: 13787; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


posted on 22 Mar 2012, 19:55 1

52. tedkord (Posts: 13787; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

I agree with the general tone of the argument, but I think Google needs to address the slow rollout of updates. And, I think the way to do it is approach Android more like Windows XP/Vista/7, etc...Mandate that OEM UI's like Sense, Blur, TouchWIZ, etc...must be apps like SPB Shell, Go Launcher and others, and can be disabled, and stock Android UI enabled. Don't allow any real modification of the OS per device, just drivers for the hardware would be OS specific.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 20:35 4

59. remixfa (Posts: 14604; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

in order for google to fully "address" the update, they would have to take control over android and become more like apple. Which is against the android philosophy at its core.

There is no "slow rollout" from google. Google releases the code.. that is their end of the bargain. The "slow rollout" comes from manufacturers fitting it to their devices and from carrier testing and approval. People point the fingers at the wrong parties.

And if you just have to have an update the moment it is released, get a nexus device and quit crying. If you dont have a nexus device, then you should never complain about updates, because you KNOW ONLY the nexus is promised quick updates directly from google. Thats what makes a nexus so special.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 21:53 2

65. freedomispopular (Posts: 10; Member since: 22 Mar 2012)


And even then, a Nexus device can take a few months, because they have to actually code the software, which people don't seem to comprehend. It actually takes time to code and beta test the software before it can be released. It's not like they just snap their fingers and *poof* there's ICS.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 21:58 2

67. freedomispopular (Posts: 10; Member since: 22 Mar 2012)

As long as its open source, manufacturers and carriers can do whatever they want with it. I'd rather deal with this downside than deal with the downsides of the closed garden approach.

And in actuality, the delay has more to do with the carriers than the manufacturers. Buy an unbranded international phone, and you WILL get regular software updates.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 21:28 3

61. Stuntman (Posts: 836; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)

Great article, Michael. Always informative whichever platform you are writing about.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 21:41

62. cellphonator (Posts: 298; Member since: 29 Oct 2011)

OMG look what I did talking about fragmentation in the JB article, I'll be more careful next time, I didn't mean to upset anybody, apologies :)

...but at least I opened the subject to be cleared ones for all, maybe (?)

Now waiting for Michael next piece that talks about the real thing, as he stated.

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 21:42 4

63. k1ng617 (Posts: 264; Member since: 13 Oct 2009)

Another excellent article, telling it how it is. Cheers!

posted on 22 Mar 2012, 21:57 3

66. radeon (Posts: 13; Member since: 20 Mar 2012)

Well said !

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