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We Need to Talk About Android (speirs.org)
195 points by shinyzhu 2028 days ago | hide | past | web | 150 comments | favorite

A lot of the points made here are exactly why I'm going from an android device to an iPhone once my device cycle from Verizon is up later this year.

I'm so tired of hearing about all the new awesome things that are happening with the android operating system and not being able to get them. Even when my device (HTC Incredible) would support such features it's always a question of if HTC/Verizon is going to put in the effort to update the device because they have to update all of the modifications they have made on it. I feel that with android based devices, manufacturers and carriers just focus on the quantity of devices they produce not the quality of the service that is given. This is understandable because they have already made their money and they would rather sell you a new device than put in development time to upgrade your current device.

With an iOS device everyone gets the same updates at the same time as long as the hardware supports the software changes. You know the date you will get the update and you know the feature set you will have. This is because apple focuses on just a few devices and tries to make them really great. I think if HTC/Samsung/Motorola did the same with a stock android OS that got updated as soon as it was available from google they might have some of the same success.

For android to really succeed as a longterm platform I think google needs to crackdown and stop carriers from modifying the OS directly. If they want to "enhance" the OS with changes they should be downloaded in the form of applications when the phone is setup at the choice of the user.

Buy a nexus phone?

I bought a Nexus One, it can no longer run the latest software. The software it has is buggy. I will never buy a Samsung, but maybe when the next Nexus comes out, hopefully by Motorola.

I did that. That's the one reason why I bought a Nexus S.

It's March, about 4 or so months after Android 4.0 launched. I still have 2.3 on my Nexus S, because of delays for my region and carrier.

You realise that Google is constantly updating your phone via it's Apps (e.g. new Youtube, new Market), yes?

If so, why would you not feel you are missing out during the year between functionality updates for iOS and instead focus only on the OS version number? Is it simply that you don't want other people to have updates if you don't have them, rather than missing the actual functionality itself? Because you not having an update because it's in Apple's secret lab seems fairly similar to not having it because your phone hasn't yet update to the latest Android OS.

Would you prefer if Google kept all those updates to itself and then forced them on carriers once a year? I'm assuming you don't think iOS (or Android) is more than say 6 months ahead of the competition or you'd just have given that as a reason for switching rather than the manner in which you get the latest functionality.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say. You seem to imply that somehow I prefer iOS over Android, when in fact I never owned any Apple product. I still prefer my 2.3 Nexus S over any iDevice I could have.

I'm simply responding to a post where someone assumed that buying a Nexus device will guarantee you the latest OS update. This isn't true as I showed that the Nexus S, which I bought essentially for faster updates. Still didn't get the official 4.0 in my region/carrier even 4 months after it's available.

On the bright side, you are a hacker. It is damn easy to get 4.0 on any Nexus S device.

Android 2.2+ is not that bad, feature-wise. And with the release of several compatibility packages, it's rather easy to make app that run on more than 90% of the available Android devices.

APIs haven't changed that much from 2.2 to 4.0, for the design you can easily implement your own, and with the introduction of Fragments it's even easier to make apps that look good on both phones and tablets for Android than for iOS.

Yes, you can't negate that Android has a fragmentation problem, but it's not as bad as it used to be, or most people would like you to believe.

Android apps that look good on tablets? With 2.2?? Dream on.

Android supply a compatibility library that lets you use new functionality even on older Android platforms. You can read about and download it here:


If you want to use the ActionBar UI style then there is a library that will work on Android 1.6+ using the native one when available else an emulated one.


> If you want to use the ActionBar UI style

More like "if you want to design your app according to standards". ABS is a necessity for any new app.

What he is saying is that you can develop with current APIs fpr 3.0 or 4.0. And still use those to make apps for 2.x. Because many of the newer APIs were made backwards compatible (such as fragments). Android allows you to build a 4.0 tablet optimized app that is also backwards compatible to a 2.2 phone optimized app, while reusing a lot of code and even layout between them.

No, he is not saying that. He said that 2.2+ is not that bad, but it is (for a tablet).

There seems to be a lot of discussion here about Android v. iOS, but I feel like people are neglecting to discuss a key part of the article:

> what's wrong with Android from the perspective of someone planning a long-term 1:1 deployment in a school

There's nothing wrong with Android. The problem is that you're trying to throw expensive toys at school students in the hope that you'll win the award for "Digital Curriculum Innovator". As a student and 1:1 program participant, the notion that tablets are even remotely useful as educational tools makes me incredibly frustrated. These devices are designed for light web browsing and viewing images and videos, not the sort of tasks that students actually need portable devices for like writing down notes, typing up assignments in class and communicating with their instructors via email.

> My question was then, and remains this: where are the apps to challenge iMovie, GarageBand, Keynote, OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, Soulver, Flipboard, iThoughts, Noteshelf, Collabracam, The Elements, Brushes and ArtRage?

This sounds an awful lot like the sort of thing you would use a laptop for. Perhaps a more useful question would be:

> Where are the apps to challenge Geogebra, Mathematica, CMap, AutoCAD, Photoshop and Office?


> How am I going to interface my expensive light sensors or CNC machine with a tablet?

The applications mentioned in the article give me the impression that there isn't much serious work being done on these things. Students need technology skills which will be useful in the workforce, which usually means using the same hardware and software which you are likely to encounter in the workforce. Nowadays you have relatively advanced topics like robotics and video editing being taught to 4th-graders, meaning that by the time they are twelve they have already started learning how to use music composition software (think Sibelius) and commercial CNC machines. Tablets and smartphones just aren't capable enough.

Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh, but sometimes I feel like educators need to spend more time educating and less time reinventing the wheel.

Photoshop has a tablet app. iWork is on tablets. iMovie and avid are on tablets. You could make a CNC controller if you wanted to

You are not Samsung's customer.

Phone manufactures sell phones to carriers, not consumers. Success in the phone industry depends entirely how well you meet the demands of the carriers. RIM knows it (or knew it), Nokia knows it, Samsung knows it.

Android is merely a platform that allows Samsung to tailor their devices to the carrier's requirements, in a way they couldn't do when they were selling Windows Mobile devices.

So how does Android 4 help Samsung better meet the demands of the carriers?

It doesn't. Carriers want devices that show off their network, they want devices that compare well against the iPhone, and they want you to buy a new phone and sign a new contract in 2 years. They obviously have no trouble selling Samsung devices with outdated software to the unsuspecting public; it made Samsung the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.

Neither the carriers nor the manufacturers will spend a dime to rush out Android 4.

I must point out that your comment does not apply to a large number of markets. Consumers in India, for example, decide on a handset independent of which carrier's service they use.

Samsung's devices compare very favorably to similarly priced devices. iPhones are very expensive compared to Samsung's devices in India and in my observation (warning: anecdotal evidence), most iPhone owners that I know have sourced their devices from the US (usually via the used device markets) to get around the price problem. There's no wonder that Samsung continues to thrive and Apple continues to languish in the Indian market.

"Phone manufactures sell phones to carriers, not consumers."

Where do you get that data from? I just tried to challenge your claim, but I did not find any worldwide statistic about how many people buy smartphones with or without contract.

My personal guess is that not only do a lot of people buy their phones from Samsung (e.g. through amazon.de/co.uk).

From the people who buy on contract, many people are in a position to choose between many providers with very similar services and prices. Meaning that they choose the contract by the price and quality of the phone, not the contract.

At least in Europe that's the case, and I believe it is similar in most Asian markets.

Companies like Samsung are not primary concerned about carrier satisfaction, because in most parts of the world, carriers are exchangeable pipe providers that need Samsung more than Samsung needs them.

Calling everyone one who buys a samsung device "unsuspecting public" is patronising. There are real reasons to buy a non apple device. I have listed some such reasons on an earlier thread - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3642152 . I also managed to miss one important reason in that list - 4G.

He's not calling everyone who buys a samsung device "unsuspecting public". He's specifically referring to those who wouldn't mind buying a 2.2 phone when 2.3 and 4.0 are out.

I bought a 2.1 phone when 2.3 was already out.

Mind you, I knew what I was buying and it would be rooted and flashed to 2.3 within about half hour of purchase :)

I've seen the opposite trend, frequently:

Unless you're a customer of AT&T or Verizon (which I admit, are a lot), you likely:

1. Choose your own handset and ignore the carrier-provided ones

2. Purchase it from a number of quality retailers

3. I'm not too happy with Samsung phones, but they are popular among people in the group I'm talking about

So I sort of agree with you, that Samsung's not going to roll out Android 4 very fast. But their loyalty to US carriers is almost certainly dying.

You aren't wrong in how you describe the players' actions and motivations, but thinking like this in the legacy and and Android markets is what is turning everyone into Apple's customer.

I got fooled by the "Android is open" marketing. Then I learned that "open" was for carriers, not consumers, so there really wasn't much "freedom" difference between Android and iOS,

You are not Samsung's customer.

I bought my i9100 full retail. I am most certainly their customer. Just got a major Kies update yesterday. Even for those people who get their device carrier subsidized -- which is the vast majority, including for Apple devices (where Apple sells the device to the carrier and not to the end user) -- Samsung is very interested in making their customer, the end-user, happy. The end result of their efforts is unprecedented, almost Apple-like interest in every leak about the Galaxy S III.

Same thing with HTC -- they suffered a down year because they didn't do well, so they're back and ready to delight customers again. The One is on my short list.

Android is merely a platform that allows Samsung to tailor their devices to the carrier's requirements...So how does Android 4 help Samsung better meet the demands of the carriers? It doesn't

Pick an argument and stick with it. That you have collapsed all of Android's many advantages into such a biased, nonsensical anti-Android growl is absurd enough, but keep some coherency in your argument.

Neither the carriers nor the manufacturers will spend a dime to rush out Android 4.

Yet the next 30 days will see tens of millions of devices updated. I'm curious what you'll say then. Oh I know what you'll say: Google is hard at work trying to push the next version of Android out, and then the next version after that, reaching a frantic pace, even if it provides ammunition for bores to declare fragmentation.

you mean.. you got kies to work!?

> "I'm talking about fragmentation of the basic operating system as deployed in the field.[...] I'm talking about APIs. [...] Apple is deploying and the installed base is rapidly upgrading to much more powerful APIs on the devices in consumers' hands"

The article says iOS newer APIs are better than Android older APIs, but he doesn't seem to back it up. I'm not very familar with iOS as I am with Android. So I would like to learn what exactly am I missing in the iOS API that is better?

As far as I know, Android 2.3 still have many useful APIs for us that iOS 5 is still missing, such as intent filters. And many of the great newer APIs were made backward compatiple, such as tablet/phone layout templating on the same app, and fragments. You can develop with these even if you support older devices. But I personally don't know of any features that the iOS puts available to us that developing for Android 2.3 does not.

If that is true. Then, for the developer perspective, OS API fragmentation only hurts Android when compared to "how much better Android could be". But it's not a problem when compared against iOS, if even Android 2.3 has better API than iOS 5?

So am I wrong here? If I am, could someone point me to a few examples of which awesome API features that iOS offer us that Android doesn't? I'm curious to learn that. Or is the article just full of it?

I'm not qualified to compare Android APIs to those on iOS. I believe the author's main point in this regard is simply that old Android devices don't usually get any new Android features (and APIs, for improved apps), because the manufacturers/carriers don't update the old devices very often.

I think that the point of this comment is that that's mostly incorrect. There are support libraries which basically mean that any device can run at any API level. This is fact, it has been for a while. Suck it up.

> where are the apps to challenge iMovie, GarageBand, Keynote, OmniFocus

About GarageBand, there is a known problem with sound latency in android that prevents real time audio apps to be developed and it doesn't seem to be fixed in ICS.

This stops developers from writing musical apps that could compete with those available on iPhone or iPad.

iOS latency is around 6ms, in android devices it varies between 100ms and 400ms.

I believe this is the bug report in question


Note that this issue has been open for more than 2.5 years

Yes, that's the bug. I have tried to use NDK with OpenSL and it doesn't get any better. I wonder why google doesn't fix this, hardware limitations?


The OS versions fragmentation issue is always exagerated. Looking at the list it is tempting to come to the conclusion that android is fragmented: http://developer.android.com/guide/appendix/api-levels.html

However as a developer there are actually three big different category of versions:

  A) Android <= 2.0
  B) Android 2.0 and higher
  C) and android 3 & 4.
It is very easy to develop for either A&B, or B&C. But developing for all of them is indeed harder.

However that is not really needed since you have a majority in B&C. With the compatibility packages you can create a full blown android 4.0 app that also works on Android 2.2.

And the cool point is: Your app will also work on Tablets! (Yes 1 app, for OS 2.2 2.3, 2.4 3, and 4.0 that works on different phone resolutions on phones and on tablets) IOS is inferior compared to this point.

So as a developer: It doesnt really matter!

As a user: I can understand that you want the latest version of your OS. Well basically: in Android you have choice. Choice a manufacturer that gives steady updates.

At a certain point old phones will not be upgraded anymore. But the same is true for any platform, including IOS. (iOS5 doesnt run on 1st gen IPhones)

My last point:

  Android is a much broader platform than IOS.
  Android runs on TV's, range of tablets,
  range of phones, and even in your car (New Audi A3).
  And supports a range of hardware characteristics
  (single core, quad cores, big screens, small screens, hardware keys etc)
This comes with some kind of "fragmentation" as people call it. But its better to see it as diversity.

From the perspective of an app developer, I was motivated to build Android apps by the section about lack of quality apps. It seems the Android app market is bigger, has fewer barriers to entry, and is more easily penetrated because of lacking quality competition.

"You're either buying into a platform or you're buying gadgets."

This is it. Manufacturers are still in the mindset of selling gadgets, not a platform. Each gadget ships with featureset that doesn't change after it is shipped (ie. they don't expect to upgrade the OS).

On the other hand, we're buying into a brand that represents a platform. We expect apps written after the phone was released to work.

I think it's interesting that this is exactly what a Linux distribution solves. The "gadget" (ie. computer) does not matter any more.

My laptop is the same as your laptop, except perhaps in the specs. But we can run the same version of the same OS if we choose to. But my Android phone probably isn't running the same version of Android as your Android phone, and we would probably struggle to achieve this if we tried to.

What we need is a vendor-independent Android distribution. Is CyanogenMod the future?

As an Android user and developer, there are really good points made here.

> Fragmentation - This is a huge issue. The thing now is that at the last Google IO, Google made it clear that you must agree to update your devices in a timely fashion to the latest OS rev if they can run it.

> Backups - This is also a big issue, although 4.x supports a secure, encrypted backup (as well as entire phone encryption) system

> Security - This argument can be made for both platforms. Sure, Apple has an approval process, but they've had that slip before, and on apparently the worst possible things (most notably tethering apps and such) - Unknown sources is turned off by default and usually discouraged from the end user toggling it

> Apps - Agree. There isn't near as much effort put into designing solid apps on Android as there is on iOS.

This leaves a really good space for the Android manufacturer who gets this right. I'm due to upgrade my phone and am seriously considering between iPhone and Android. The fact that my current Android phone, just a year old LG that only now runs 2.2, so quickly went out of usability makes me wonder exactly the same thing. If someone can deliver to me solid technology that keeps working with Android as it evolves (to a reasonable degree of course, I'm happy with a 2-3 year window), I will be a life-long loyal customer to that company. Right now I'm not even sure who to guess buying a new Android from and that's a shame on the industry that my choices are between several not-amazing options.

Already been done. The Nexus line of phones have the latest software directly from Google, and no carrier bloat. Really, anyone technical enough to read HN should go with a Galaxy Nexus or Nexus S vs. ANY other Android phone.

Does this apply to their small phones? Perhaps it is because of reading HN that I am of the perception that only the larger more feature-full phones are maintained well (or perhaps just that my friends who have bought these just got the big version, having large male rucksacks). The Nexus that I am aware of doesn't fit in my purse.

I can't even think of a good Android phone out on the market today that anyone would consider small. These days decent Androids generally range from 4.3'' screens to the 5.3'' found on the Galaxy Note.

Right, so that effectively keeps me out of the good-phone market. It really is a shame that they can't make a smaller phone (iPhone size is ok but smaller would be better). I'd be a customer for life.

I'm thinking about the Nexus but the reviews have all slated the camera which is putting me off a bit

> The Nexus line of phones have the latest software directly from Google, and no carrier bloat

With the caveat that only some Nexus Ses have received ICS.

The problem is that even if one manufacturer really nails it, the overall market remains confusing and balkanized to both the developer and consumer unless that manufacturer is successful enough to drive out the alternatives.

2.2 and 2.3 currently represent about 90% of the market. From an API standpoint, these are very similar. Is iOS really that much less fragmented in real-world terms?

The dramatic variations in hardware are actually a much more interesting problem than the supposed issue of OS version fragmentation, IMO.

  > Is iOS really that much less fragmented
  > in real-world terms?

So it takes about a year for near 100% adoption of the iOS version, too? So what's the complaining about Android, then? In a year the new version can get about 75%, which is not that bad.

The complaining is because of this:

  > iOS 5 captured approximately 75% of all iOS users in the same
  > amount of time it took Gingerbread to get 4% of all Android
  > users. Even more astounding is that 15 weeks after launch
  > iOS 4 was at 70% and iOS 5 was at 60% while Ice Cream Sandwich
  > got to just 1% share at the same age.
So 60% vs 1% at the same age since release.

The issue with backups is understated. Titanium Backup is a crutch where I expect a cloud solution from Google would have been obvious and easy to use.

Google needs to do one thing before anything else:

Build a reference phone chipset.

Every Android phone consists of a patchwork of vendor specific hardware. The chips in Samsung's phones are not the same as the chips in HTC's or LG's, etc.. It gets even worse, since the same model of phone made by the same manufacturer may have different chips for different cell carriers. This is a big reason why the second most recent "reference" google phone, the Nexus S, has yet to receive an official ICS update more than 3 months after ICS was released. If google is this slow, how can anyone expect other vendors to be quick? Hell, it's starting to look like other vendors may be faster than google. That's also not good.

Google does have reference designs; if you use the same chips as the latest Nexus then you don't have to do any porting to get the latest Android release. This was especially apparent with Honeycomb where all the tablets used Tegra 2 (despite its tablet-unfriendly low fill rate). But unlike Microsoft's "chassis" concept, Google won't force anyone. It is open source after all. Also, Google likes to rotate their favor among all the chip and phone vendors, using a different vendor for each generation. Phone makers who are loyal to one SoC line find themselves advantaged with one release but disadvantaged with the next. As much as Android would benefit from Microsoft/Apple-style tighter control, Google seems philosophically opposed to it.

Build a reference phone chipset.

That is the antithesis of the Android spirit. In fact, they made this mistake with Honeycomb and the Tegra 2, and it was a general disaster. Android is all about variation and competition at every level.

I think by the end of the year this will be less of a problem. Consider that last year two OS versions were released and the first was Honeycomb which had a very binding legal agreement associated with it so as not to appear on phone form factor devices. Then Icecream Sandwich comes out and as usual most of the Android ecosystem does not see any of the codeline until the AOSP release. So now it's 3 months down the road.

In the biz. I haven't heard of any significant handset vendors starting a Android phone or tablet project in 2012 on anything but 4.0. So with the growth in the market expect 4.0 to grow very quickly and perhaps consider 2011 to be a oddity.

How are we supposed to believe that the same phone manufacturers will not have the same problems with fragmentation with 4.0, 4.1, 4.x in the future?

The only relationship between the version of the OS and fragmentation is that a new OS rev usually introduces an additional API level. So if you write an app to API level 15 (4.0 IIRC) that will be available and work on subsequent revs.

I think you're missing the point. Putting it another way: When the 4.1 APIs are released, how long do you need to wait to add 4.1 as a dependency for the core cool new feature in your app? Obviously you can use the 4.0 APIs that are still there, but you have to admit that your ability to push new features to your whole user base is impeded by the rag-tag update schedule.

Yes I agree that you cannot target the the latest API, and there is a lag, which has been exceptionally long because of the Honeycomb blip.

But it just means that, form factor and to a certain extent performance differences are more likely to be a problem than perceived platform level fragmentation IMO.

Here is an interesting graph http://www.theverge.com/2012/2/26/2826022/android-fragmentat...

Eclair took about 9 months to peak, Froyo about a year, Gingerbread still looks like it hasn't peaked about 15 months since release.

To fix fragmentation, you want everybody on the same page. If they are releasing new features each major version, then I suppose this means you want them on the same major version.

At this rate, you will not see progress until maybe Q2 2013 when everybody is releasing ICS phones.

Edit: spelling

Nice data, thanks, you might be right with your estimate.

Maybe I'm crazy, but why is it bad to release a phone with 2.3 and update it to 4.0 a month or two later?

Apart from the blog reviewers and the early adopters who actually even gets to see the old version? Would they really be served by delaying the hardware? Just to satisfy some neat-freak OCD tendency? How is this different from someone buying an iPhone a few months before the new one comes out with an iOS bump? Is that a horrifying experience too?

There's nothing wrong with that. The problem is that Sony Ericsson (and others) have made many promises on upgrades that they have been unable to keep. If Apple released the iPhone 5 running iOS 3 while promising to update it to iOS 5 later, at the very least people would be thinking that Apple could use some improvement in their development process.

If Google had been more open in their development of Android, all members of the OHA would have had repository access before release of a new version, and manufacturers would outside of the launch partner would have been able to develop their new hardware on the latest OS release.

You're begging the question. Apple doesn't do it for iOS, but why does that make it unthinkable? Apple don't perfectly sync up their Mac OS X and hardware releases, you buy your hardware and then shortly afterwards you pay(!) to upgrade.

If Apple can do it for laptops (and the first iPad), why can't Sony do it for phones? Because a third party has released a device with a fourth parties updated software? I understand that Google's releases schedule is different from Microsoft Windows and Apple's Mac OS X and iOS, I'm looking for reasons why a consumer should care. Personally I see benefits to their approach e.g. rapid evolution.

(Note, I understand that making promises and breaking them is bad, it just seems most of the comments focus not on the breaking of a promise, but the very thought of disjoint hardware and software release dates)

The focus of the comments is not the disjoint between software and hardware releases, but rather that manufacturers are very slow to update to newer software releases. That's what everyone's complaining about. Sony Ericsson releasing a new phone with an old operating system is just another indication of that.

For your comparison to be accurate, Apple would have had to release a new Mac that didn't run Mountain Lion, two months after Mountain Lion was released.

Or, HP would have had to release a new laptop that didn't run Windows 7 after Windows 7 was released. There's nothing wrong with doing that, but it's unlikely to happen simply because Microsoft is providing HP with prereleases way before a new Windows version is announced, while Google is currently only providing that service to their Nexus launch partner (at least that's the excuse that Sony Ericsson had).

Other people not doing it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it (as you yourself have pointed out twice) so... what makes it bad?

Google lets consumers use products that it labels as "beta"? Is this bad? Why?

Google only let people with invites into Gmail at first. Is this bad? Why

Google tests changes by pushing them to random subsets of web visitors. Is this bad? Why?

Google pushed the last version of the market to 2.3 devices before it pushed it to 2.2 devices. Is this bad? Why?

Android updates seem to roll out by country over a period of weeks. Is this bad? Why?

A lot of Android functionality is in Apps rather than the OS and the trend is to increase this (e.g. Chrome on a 6 week update schedule). Is this bad? Why?

You could have interesting, enlightening debates about any of these decisions and reasonable people could argue either side of each of them. But it seems we skipped that step for Android updates and decided that if it wasn't the same as Apple it must be bad. I'm just looking for an actual reason why an average consumer (or indeed any particular subset of consumers) would prefer everyone to adopt Apple's model to justify these strongly and loudly held opinions.

Note that "not having the latest version of the OS" is not a reason why not having the latest version of the OS is bad, it's just restating the question.

This is not really about "Android vs Apple" or Apple fanboys trying to push a certain view on others. What it's about is carriers and cell phone manufacturers being used to shipping phones with a single OS release, and never having to provide any updates at all (except for serious bugs).

The only thing special about Apples software update policy is that it's more similar to how things are done in the PC industry, where you get OS updates as long as your hardware supports the new operating systems (although Apple is quicker in discontinuing iOS devices, something I don't like).

I can't think of a single reason why delaying, or not shipping a software release for a capable (but discontinued) handset is _good_ for the customer. I can think of many examples of why it is bad.

If your theory is right and a year from now I'll be able to upgrade an Android 4.x phone to be feature equivalent with Android 5 through app downloads, then great, why would anyone really complain about that?

An example of the PC and mobile worlds colliding: When Nokia discontinued the 770 with the Tablet OS 2007 release, do you think the outraged 770 owners were rabid Apple fanboys? No, they were PC users that expected the expensive toy they just bought to be supported for more than a year and two months with software updates.

The slow speed at which consumers upgrade their devices can be a good thing.. for developers.. once you finish making an app stable that works across most popular versions. You don't have to worry about future versions breaking it, or feel the need to upgrade your app to take advantage of newer features.

Compare that to iOS. Now if you download the new XCode, you gotta worry about ARC. A few years back, you had to make retina versions of all your images... and if you just had 1 version of those images, you were screwed. I compiled an app I made a year ago using iOS 5.0. It's breaks. I have no clue why.. As consumers we want the latest, but as a developer, sometimes I get really annoyed that Apple keeps changing so much so fast.

this is why android will not succeed in the corporate space. might not be their target anyhow, but who knows.

IT departments in big companies love stable, homogenous platforms. buy an iphone anywhere on this world, it is exactly the same. same OS, same apps, etc. the upgrade path is known, predictable and again, completely global.

hence the success of the iPhone in that space, killing off RIM. hence the success of iPads, killing off classic Windows tablets and even notebooks. and suddenly you see macbook airs popping up in meetings and airport lounges. because once you're on iPhone and iPad - why not take the plunge? a macbook air is the same anywhere on this globe...

Your comment is kind of funny because I remember when people bitched about the iPhone not being suitable for the enterprise.

What people are missing is that when a product gets really popular amongst consumers, the enterprise will follow regardless of its shortcomings.

Plus, Android does have advantages for the enterprise. Like its integration with the other Google services. For instance I love that my whole contacts list is backed-up in Google Apps. And the Gmail app on Android is the best Gmail app available on mobile phones.

It's a pity that I'll have to wait for an Android 4 upgrade for my Galaxy S. I blame Samsung for this as I buy from them for the hardware (which is awesome), not for their shitty "additions" to Android. This is why my next phone I buy will be a Nexus, or whatever Google's next blessed phone will be called.

What people are missing is that when a product gets really popular amongst consumers, the enterprise will follow regardless of its shortcomings.

Do you have any other examples of this? I hadn't really heard this before the iPhone or iPad.

I can think of Mac OS X, Gmail, Windows 95, Firefox, Chrome, GitHub.

Of course, such a thing only happens when there's overlap. There's not much use for an XBox or a Wii in a company, with the exception of having a fun and games room as an added benefit to employees.

But when a product is useful for the enterprise and popular amongst consumers, it will enter that space, simply because enthusiastic employees can move mountains. See for instance Linux's growth in the ninties, in spite of Windows, IBM AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, or other OSes that were definitely more ready for the enterprise. Basically an immature Unix clone, that can't even keep binary compatibility between versions, is killing all proprietary Unix distributions, except OS X.

I had to wait more than 10 months for official Gingerbread to come to my Galaxy S (Epic 4G), but in the case of ICS not even the Nexus S 4G is on board yet so I wouldn't really fault Samsung or be so quick to buy a Nexus device in this case.

Depending on which Galaxy S you're on, look into CM9. Despite its early stages, it's amazingly stable. I've been on ICS without any problems for awhile now.

After doing some research on security it seems that Android's problem is overblown. The malware I've come across mostly stems from people downloading random apps from the web and then granting full privileges to that app. Which in turn does things with the permissions the person granted it.

That doesn't really seem to be a security hole as much as it is a user problem.

I guess it's simple to say Android is insecure, but it doesn't seem to be the case. Any more so than a rootable iOS device.

Am I mistaken? Are there reports of apps gaining root access?

Android 2.3 is good enough for most smartphone users. Android 4.x will be good enough for most Pad users.

These are the two distributions I expect to be successful in the long run.

I've been dealing with the fragmentation issue directly as of recently. I was completely oblivious to the situation until I found out I needed to test for 4 versions of the Android OS for a project (after the fact)! No fun!

The endless parade of fragmentation discussions regarding Android all prove one thing: a lot of people don't understand what wins a market. Customers lacking in technological savvy make up the radical majority of Android owners, they are never going to care about this issue so long as their smart phone functions at 85% good enough.

85% good enough, is more than enough to win a market if you have substantial other advantages in your favor.

Windows has always suffered fragmentation, and has rarely been better than 85% good enough. Circa 2002 they had '95, 98, ME, and XP spread across over half a billion units. With further varied patch configurations and service packs. The total global varied combinations are in the hundreds in that context.

But, you say, that's just so horrible! Welcome to reality, where markets are never dominated by perfection and fairy tales. You don't have to like it, you can rail against it the rest of your life, and fight the good fight; and Android will continue to dominate, and it will have absolutely nothing to do with issues related to fragmentation.

> Windows has always suffered fragmentation, and has rarely been better than 85% good enough. Circa 2002 they had '95, 98, ME, and XP spread across over half a billion units.

Let's ignore the heroic lengths Microsoft went to ensure compatibility between Windows versions.

You're wrong, anyway.

The cell phone industry is nothing like the PC industry. Whenever you find yourself using a PC analogy to explain some part of Android it means you're getting it completely wrong because it demonstrates an utter lack of understanding of how companies like RIM, Nokia, and Samsung have come to dominate the cell phone industry over the years.

Of course fragmentation is not a problem for the cell phone industry. Fragmentation is a crucial property of the cell phone industry. Samsung became the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world by providing a large, fragmented, outdated array of devices to the carriers.

How could Android fragmentation possibly be a problem for Samsung or the carriers?

The industry has never been about providing up-to-date software. The older your software, the faster you'll update your phone and sign a new 2-year contract.

However, fragmentation is a big problem for people like you and me, who think the smartphone industry should be more like the PC industry, and it's a problem for Google and anyone else who wants to compete with Apple on Apple's terms.

> Circa 2002 they had '95, 98, ME, and XP spread across over half a billion units. With further varied patch configurations and service packs.

It's worth pointing out that this comparison isn't the same. You could, in 2002, run the latest version of Office on all of their operating systems. With Android, there are situations where even Google's own software (see Chrome on Android) only runs on the absolute latest version.

Further, in 2002, all the big name vendors were generally shipping Windows XP on their machines. With Android, vendors are still shipping devices with 2.3. It's still a good OS, but it has to be frustrating as a non-tech user to understand why your brand new Android device can't run software released last week.

Chrome is a beta released three weeks ago. And while I like it, it's a long way from being production quality. Are there any other examples of ICS-only software? Anywhere? Really the only serious bump in the Android API has been Froyo. There are lots of apps that require Froyo. Honestly I can't think of a single one (other than trial stuff like Chrome or niche things like handset-specific root tools, etc...) that requires even Gingerbread, much less ICS.

I thought that was part of what Frasier is getting at, fragmentation gets you both coming and going.

Both ICS and iOS 5 were released at about the same time, iOS 5 is now the majority OS for iOS devices. On the other hand, ICS is available on about minuscule percentage of Android devices.

Software written for ICS won't work on the vast majority of devices and there is little incentive to write for ICS (which will keep hurting Android tablets).

Developers can start taking advantage of iOS 5 APIs today and incentive is growing. At this rate, iOS 6 will be the majority OS on iOS before ICS gets that title for Android.

Except that you can build apps that are optimized for ICS and that degrade nicely for older versions / less capable devices.

That's how smart developers always operated. I remember when Id's Quake 1 first appeared ... I could play it on a 2 year old Pentium processor on MS-DOS 6.22, even though Windows 95 was capturing the headlights.

You can start taking advantage of ICS APIs today. It's more work because you have to test and workaround older versions too, but the thing that differentiates Android from other frameworks is that it was built with degradation in mind.

Which is a valid point, I think. New features don't get adopted quickly in Android apps because of the need to support legacy handsets (one big one was the gesture support that landed in Gingerbread -- Froyo-compatible apps can't use it, or must use it only for non-critical functionality).

But no, that was clearly not Frasier's point at all. "With Android [...] even Google's own software [...] only runs on the absolute latest version." is a complaint that recent software isn't backwards compatible. And that's just wrong.

And Microsoft was pushing updates and security patches to all those XP machines. Still are, over 10 years after initial release.

Whereas Android users are lucky if they're still getting updates and security patches after 10 months.

It does not change his point. Many Windows users are not regularly applying security patches or upgrading to the latest Windows version, making the Windows ecosystem fragmented, yet this did not prevent it from becoming a market leader on desktops, with a large Windows development economy flourishing and producing apps compatible with many different Windows versions and service pack levels.

For the same reason, Android fragmentation is a non-issue.

or upgrading to the latest Windows version, making the Windows ecosystem fragmented

No, this did not made the Window ecosystem "fragmented" in the sense that Android is. Windows always had excellent backwards and forward compatibility, which meant you could develop for XP and still run on Vista and vice versa. You just couldn't take advantage of the latest and greatest APIs, but most apps used the classic APIs anyway --you still had access to the whole of the OS and hardware across all Windows versions, even with a custom built C API or MFC.

On Android devices you are cutoff from using tons of features if you can't deploy to the latest versions. And you have to walk a very fine line to make it compatible with all versions/form factors, and mostly cut corners.

For the same reason, Android fragmentation is a non-issue.

A, the classic "lalalala, fingers in the ears" argument.

Android too offers excellent forward compatibility! It is easy, as API changes are generally additive. I challenge you to find a few different apps written for, say, Android 1.6 that don't run on 4.0. I am sure some examples exist, but they are rare. In fact, I would even argue that Windows apps fail more often to be forward compatible than Android apps, because of the sheer complexity of the Windows software stack compared to Android.

As to backward compatibility, just like on Windows, it is the developers' responsibility to ensure he refrains from using APIs that are too recent. For example, if you write a Windows Direct3D 10 game, it won't run on XP because this API is only available on Vista and up. Same thing for Android: select the right API level when developing your app! http://developer.android.com/guide/appendix/api-levels.html How is Windows better/different than Android in this respect?

I speak from experience. I have developed on both Windows and Android, contrary to most people in this thread.

     which meant you could develop for XP and still
     run on Vista and vice versa
That's not the case. A lot of apps and drivers broke on Vista.

You should really go and read The Old New Thing, as it's really enlightening: http://amzn.to/wW0Okn

Handset vendors and carriers push security patches routinely (though not commonly, the sandbox architecture makes it a lot less needed than on a desktop OS). It's OS upgrades that are slow. Holes get closed.

Can you flesh out your statement a bit?

You distinguish between security updates and OS updates. I'm not aware of any difference, an update is an update. I've never seen an OTA update that wasn't a point release. How are these deployed differently?

My old SE phone got random OTA updates regularly, but non of them changed the android version number. I have no idea what those updates where though.

The article links another article which shows, graphically, how long a number of popular Android phones were getting updates - including security patches. According to it, Android users are lucky to be getting updates after a mere 10 months. Including security patches. And that's assuming you buy the phone immediately after it hits the market.

Not sure which article you mean. You're saying you're aware of an unpatched vulnerability on an android handset?

There are many, many unpatched vulnerabilities on Motorola Milestone XT720 (and many others). Google doesn't even release security patches for old releases (until recently)--their opinion seems to be that all manufacturers should update to Gingerbread or whatever the latest OS happens to be. Google finally seems to have pulled their heads out of the sand or stopped humming with their fingers in their ears recently and made security point release for Froyo a few weeks ago that backported some security fixes that had been in Gingerbread for a long time, though.

To be fair, when iMovie launched (an Apple app) it only worked on the brand new iPhone 4. If you had a 3GS (i.e., hadn't upgraded yet), you were out of luck. It didn't matter that you had the latest iOS. You didn't have the latest hardware so you couldn't run it, although oddly you accidentally buy it through the app store.

The 4 was 50% of iPhones after a year or so :)

> With Android, vendors are still shipping devices with 2.3.

How is this bad? Do you realize that 4 months ago, 2.3 was the very latest Android version available for phones? Its successor, 4.0, was barely released in Nov 2011 (3.0 was for tablets only). A few months delay is perfectly understandable because vendors need time to customize, build, test, ship, and clear inventory levels of devices running the previous Android version.

> You could, in 2002, run the latest version of Office on all of their operating systems.

This statement does not prove that forward/backward compatibility is easy in Windows. How much time did Microsoft waste into making Office run flawlessly across a wide range of Windows versions? With an application the size of Office (30M lines of code), it is almost certain that it has hundreds, if not thousands, of workarounds for limitations or bugs affecting the oldest Windows versions that Office needed to support.

Office is Microsoft's own software. And 2002 is still one year later compared to when XP was launched. Manufacturers generally start using the new version of Android 6-12 months later, too.

The difference between Windows and Android is that even if Microsoft finished XP in 2000, they waited until all the manufacturers put it on new hardware to release it. Google doesn't do that. They release it as soon as it's ready, and then manufacturers have to put it on hardware. It's just a matter of perception of who has it "faster".

But I suppose Google could do the same - finish Android 5.0 this spring, and then only release it in winter with a bunch of manufacturers at once.

As for Chrome, this is really an exception, and I don't think you can point any other example where an app only works on Android 4.0. This happened because Android 4.0 is a pretty big overhaul, and Google didn't want to bother with the legacy, when they know that within a year 50% of Android devices will have the 4.0 version. They just wanted to take advantage of all the new API's and not have to find workarounds for the other versions. It's kind of like Microsoft not wanting to make IE9 work on XP anymore, because it's a much different version than Vista and 7.

>The difference between Windows and Android is that even if Microsoft finished XP in 2000, they waited until all the manufacturers put it on new hardware to release it. Google doesn't do that. They release it as soon as it's ready, and then manufacturers have to put it on hardware. It's just a matter of perception of who has it "faster".

Is the XP timeline an idle speculation on your part(as seems to happen with your posts about MS) or do you have references to back that up? You couldn't be wronger.

Microsoft regularly shares builds with OEMs so that they can start optimizing their hardware and even publishes beta versions to the public so even small developers can start making their software compatible.

What do we get with Android? For something that's supposed to be open source, the source gets thrown over a wall at release. One OEM does get a head start at the expense of others though.

Microsoft just released Windows 8 developer and consumer previews, did Google do that with ICS?

>It's kind of like Microsoft not wanting to make IE9 work on XP anymore, because it's a much different version than Vista and 7.

IE8 came up almost 10 years after XP. Not to mention that Vista and Windows 7 were on atleast 40% of mahines then and selling on almost 100% of machines. With ICS the numbers are 1%.

My understanding is that Chrome on Android is still very much in Beta and they are intentionally doing a very limited release while the major bugs are being worked on. Isn't IE9 only available for Vista and 7 while XP still has neck and neck market share with 7?

If the only goal were market share then yes, Android is virtually guaranteed to dominate the market for the same reason Windows has been, and that would be a trump card in this conversation.

However, I don't really think the criticisms about Android fragmentation amount to nothing but beating around the "market share" bush. I think that, believe it or not, folks who are criticizing Android mean what they're saying. With all due respect to Groucho, sometimes a complaint that the Android platform's combination of failure to deliver software updates to existing users and lack of a decent wall around the garden raises serious security and privacy concerns is just a complaint that the Android platform's combination of failure to deliver software updates to existing users and lack of a decent wall around the garden raises serious security and privacy concerns.

It's irritating that people blame Android, Google have been steadily releasing new editions of the OS.

Surely the actual problem is the carriers/manufacturers?

The actual problem is the carriers/manufacturers, but Google could have put in requirements regarding upgrade policies. However, they're apparently not in a strong enough position to do that, after all they need to get the manufacturers on board on the promise that they have more freedom with Android.

They could also have made it easier on the manufacturers to do upgrades (ie. giving out continuous updates during development instead of just a source dump at launch time).

On a technical level, yes, but when discussing Android "the product" (aka "the experience") it's the correct way to refer to it.

Android isn't just Google. It's also the carriers and manufacturers.

Spot on! Look at the two big market share holders, Nokia (worldwide & India) and Motorola (US & China). They achieved this by operating on razor thin margins (both, but mostly Nokia) and bending to carriers' every whim (Motorola). See how quickly that market share argument evaporated.

This article is not talking about what wins a market. In fact, it explicitly disclaims any attempt to apply these lessons to the wider world. It's simply a discussion of where Android falls short as relates to his particular needs. As such, this comment seems awfully off topic.

Fans of the platform seem to hammer on about market share an awful lot.

Stockholm Syndrome?

I really cannot fathom why a consumer, assuming they have no stock in the platform outside their own purchase should be so concerned about something as trivial as market share.

Were the platform in danger of disappearing due to low market share (WebOS) I'd understand that but puffing up your chest because the OS on your smartphone has the best market share seems very strange to me. It's really not a feature of the device.

Nor do I understand why fans of Apple products tout Apple's high profit? Isn't that a form of Stockholm syndrom, too? Being happy that the company you buy from makes a lot of money from you?

I wouldn't call it Stockholm Syndrome, but it's something weird. Seems to me that it's the same basic phenomenon as hardcore sports fans. They tie up their identity with this external entity so hard that they almost treat it as an extension of their own ego.

One important difference, of course, is that most local sports teams care about their fans.

I'm assuming that wasn't directed at me-I don't recall having indulged in any-boi-ism of any sort. I also agree with your comment... Being egotistical about something so irrelevant is definitely a bit weird.

a) it attracts developers and other content providers, and b) it is a reflection of device popularity (i.e. if a lot of people think it's a good device, there must be something to it).

Except that a) iOS has a dramatically healthier app ecosystem, and b) the poster even points out that most people who buy Android phones don't care about the platform.

Sorry, but the 'Android is dominating' meme took a sever credibility shock with the last round of Android handset manufacturer profit slides. But you know, they'll make it up in volume. Or something.

What does market dominance have to do with profit margins? The two are pretty much orthogonal.

This has nothing to do with his post. Did you read it beyond "What's wrong with Android?" and "Fragmentation"?

He's saying that for his purposes Android is not up to snuff, and then lays out the reasons -- fragmentation was one of them.

There can be an discussions about topics besides market domination. Such as what sucks about Android and how it could be better. An "endless parade" of such discussions doesn't prove that people don't understand what wins a market at all.

Except that the refresh cycle for a mobile device is around two years, and word spreads more quickly than ever that you can't run the latest stuff. If that Android phone can't run the latest apps, lags, or can't do all the things that your friend's iPhone [1] can do, easily, and reliably, you're a lost customer. On the flip side, if you're a developer with limited resources and your app can't run on a vast majority of deployed devices without extensive and expensive testing, you're a lost developer. Neither of these things is good for a computing platform. Never was, never will be. These are first principles. Sure, there might be other factors, (which you haven't specified by the way), but all else equal users and developers want consistency in a platform for the sake of compatibility.

1) Top rated review for Path for Android: http://cl.ly/1P082D1L2D1k1O0i3K0J

> Neither of these things is good for a computing platform. Never was, never will be. These are first principles.

Right, I don't understand why this is so hard to understand.

The nontech users may not know or care what fragmentation means, but they do wonder why each phone the buy has different icons, interface, and even apps, and they do get frustrated when thy can't figure out their new phone because it's so different from the last one.

Windows had tremendous hardware variety, but it never han the inconsistency - even in the same version of the os - that android has.

There's an excellent line in the middle of the Android Support Visualization article he links to (http://theunderstatement.com/post/11982112928/android-orphan...):

"In other words, Apple’s way of getting you to buy a new phone is to make you really happy with your current one, whereas apparently Android phone makers think they can get you to buy a new phone by making you really unhappy with your current one."

85% is good enough to have someone buy your crap, but it's not enough to make them loyal to your crap.

    >85% is good enough to have someone buy your crap, 
    >but it's not enough to make them loyal to your crap.
I get tired of the fanboistic comments in a lot of these threads. There is a big, strategic, complex, technology game going on and, apparently, a bunch of smart hackers think phones are like simple breakfast cereals (and even those aren't simple).

A big battle is afoot. Act like it. Stop pretending that one side wears white and the other wears black. I always hated Microsoft's products (aging myself: I used OS/2), but they understood the game that was afoot. I'm not anti-Apple. I'm anti-blinders and so many of my friends who use Apple products seem to employ them...

To their credit and only in limited ways are Apple finally acknowledging that network effects are important. But they're doing so in a world quite different than the one in which Microsoft thrived. As I said, I hated Microsoft's strategies, so I hope Apple will not emulate them too closely.

EDIT: I appreciate the lack of downvotes... I was hesitant to write such an opinionated bit, but was frustrated.

> I get tired of the fanboistic comments in a lot of these threads. There is a big, strategic, complex, technology game going on and, apparently, a bunch of smart hackers think phones are like simple breakfast cereals (and even those aren't simple).

I also upvoted you, even though I don't think you're quite correct. I personally don't believe that "hackers (...) think that phones are like simple breakfast cereals". Not that I'm a "hacker" or anything, but most of us HN-ers know how difficult is to "make things just work". Apple does that, ie "making things just work".

And, trust me, I'm not an Apple fanboy. I use a Windows 7 machine for development at work, all my websites are hosted on Ubuntu, and the only Apple products I own are my laptop and my phone.

I know it's only anecdotal, but until yesterday I was the very happy owner of an iPhone 3 (not even 3GS). Everything had been working just fine for the last 2 years, apart from a slightly decreased battery-life and Facebook's native app suddenly not working anymore, which was the moment when I realized that maybe it was time for an upgrade. What did I do then? I went straight into the store and bought an iPhone 4, because that way I knew for a fact that for the next 2-3 years I would have no problems in using my phone. I have no such guarantee from Android phones, even though most of them are similarly priced.

Judging from the amount of people on old iPhones and iPads complaining about how every new version of iOS slows things down or is just plain not supported on their older model, that quote sounds rather... imaginative.

So, strangely, for app testing purposes, I actually own one of each model of iPhone and iPad ever made by Apple. The performance, as you said, certainly does vary. However, from my experience, there's been only one really bad moment: the iPhone 3G on iOS 4. I'd put the next worst as the original iPad on iOS 4.3 (it's better on iOS 5, actually), but even that was nowhere near as bad and still completely usable.

However, this is actually an interesting point about Android. While you might not get updates, you can be reasonably certain that it isn't going to break: if an update is going to run horribly on a device and carriers/manufacturers only update a few devices, you're probably safe. In contrast, on iOS, Apple uses code signing to actually enforce usage of the latest release — you simply cannot downgrade.

If you go through the forum threads, you can see that I am not alone in being frustrated by iOS5 on the original iPad. Even scrolling on the home screen is laggy from time to time. I have already disabled Spotlight for all except apps and most notification BS.

I wonder how much of this is actually down to the OS vs the apps.

For example, I have a very cheap Android phone. It's not the best, but it does a good job. But lately I've noticed that some of the apps are running much slower now after some recent updates - Maps, Twitter, Angry Birds and esp Facebook.

All these need to work in harmony to get the best overall experience, but at the same time work well for the lowest common denominator (me in this case!)

An issue I have with his claims:

> A Price Observation All of the even slightly cheaper phones are much worse than the iPhone when it comes to OS support, but it’s interesting to note that most of the phones on this list were actually not cheaper than the iPhone when they were released

The chart really doesn't quote pricing correctly. I'd prefer if he just used the un-subsidized cost. The subsidized costs are meaningless as different carriers charge radically different amounts. I bought a Sprint HTC Hero in Fall 2009. He claims it was a mere $20 cheaper than the iPhone; in reality I was paying at least $15 less per month than an ATT customer with an equivalent plan. Over the contract, that's $380 cheaper.

But that's not $380 that has anything to do with Apple or Android.

That's like saying your new LG TV is $400 dollars cheaper than your last Samsung TV, because you -also- switched your Comcast plan to pay less monthly.

That's not a fair comparison.

Again, that's why I prefer comparing unsubsidized costs. My Hero may have been hundreds cheaper but perhaps some of that cheapness was from being on an inferior carrier.

Still not a fair comparison. I guess the only truly fair comparison would be a Total Cost of Ownership, but those can be difficult to accurately determine. Specifically how much you might lose for uninsured breakage, etc.

What are you responding to? Certainly not to the linked article. Can you read? You are completely off-topic.

This is about deployment in schools, nothing else.

Some of these issues are not immediately apparent but might be factors when you're buying your next device. Only time will tell.

>The endless parade of fragmentation discussions regarding Android all prove one thing: a lot of people don't understand what wins a market.

market share is useless if your users are not spending money.

Android is in the same position as Nokia 10 yrs ago. And we all know how much Nokia profited from their enormous market share.

I don't understand the comparison with Nokia. Many people I know still happily use their dumbphones from around that time. It sucks that the economic system punishes this.

Android phones are smartphones that fall apart after two years. Google doesn't care if these get replaced as long as people view ads, vendors know they can sell another device to the same person two years later. Both sides benefit from market share.

The endless parade of fragmentation discussions regarding Android all prove one thing: a lot of people don't understand what wins a market. Customers lacking in technological savvy make up the radical majority of Android owners, they are never going to care about this issue so long as their smart phone functions at 85% good enough.

And people don't understand that wining a market means nothing and it can even be a race to the bottom, it's wining the profitable part of the market that matters.

But, you say, that's just so horrible! Welcome to reality, where markets are never dominated by perfection and fairy tales. You don't have to like it, you can rail against it the rest of your life, and fight the good fight; and Android will continue to dominate, and it will have absolutely nothing to do with issues related to fragmentation.

Was this written in 2001 or something? It's like the PC continues to dominate but the industry is dying for profit margin, the cool kids have all moved to OS X and/or Linux (go to any university campus or programming conference), and all the majority of the money and mindshare go to the ecosystem that's not PC based...

>And people don't understand that wining a market means nothing and it can even be a race to the bottom, it's wining the profitable part of the market that matters.

By that metric IIS is whomping Apache and Nginx. But you don't see that discussed around here. Only the metric that suits people's affiliations and biases seem to really matter here.

Android will continue to dominate? You mean, it will continue to win most activations so long as it lets any budget device count?

Because what other metric is Android winning? Apple captures the lionshare of the entire industry's profits. HTC and Moto are barely breaking even on Android devices.

Google can't even get users past 2.3, no one is using 4.0, and they're already on track to have 5.0 out in what, three months?

Some "domination". I wish I understand what metrics people used to determine these things.

I guess it comes down to "activations". Which, when you get down to it, is a rather poor indicator of platform strength.

Downvote and don't reply all y'all want.

Using activations as a metric is bad.

"India is dominating America because they have far more human activations (births) than America!"

There's a good analogy as to why 'activations' do not tell a complete story.

Please reply with what other metrics people use when saying that Android "dominates". I'd honestly love to know. Otherwise, it's nothing more than a mirror of rose-tinted Apple fanboys, it's Android fanboyism.

"The endless parade of fragmentation discussions regarding Android all prove one thing..." All this proves is what an irrational fanboy you are. What does "winning a market" mean? Money made or numbers sold? Customer satisfaction? Ongoing revenue? As with all fanboys you concentrate on the figure you think is in your favour: market share (no mentions of which of which seem to include returns). Apple have the numbers that matter, revenue, profit, customer visibility (show me the queues of people waiting to get the latest - soon to be out-of-date - Android handset). As of right now to claim that Android is winning a market (remember markets exist to make money) is almost pathetically deluded.

I would suggest that for the most part people buy an iDevice because that is specifically what they want, and for the most part most people buy Android devices because the handsets are cheap or are being pushed by the salesman.

You also ignored the rest of his post which detailed other problems with Android and the Android ecosystem.

Guy who prominently displays "Apple distinguished educator" proudly on his site doesn't like Android. Who would have thought?

There is nothing that they say that we haven't heard one thousand times before. Well the single and only thing that I might say is unique is the backup bit, though is this really such a problem? What are people backing up? My contacts are in the cloud. My email is in the cloud. My documents are in the cloud. Even my game save state is in the cloud. What's left? I'd rather that I don't have to backup anything, which is generally exactly how Android operates. I've jumped between six devices having never backed up or restored a thing, yet there it is.

Further it's interesting that the fragmentation discussion reaches its maximum volume shortly before the solution appears. Many tens of millions of devices will see 4.0 updates within the next 30 days (anyone want to take a wager?). What then?

How does having consumer level devices deployed to a school help educate people at all, regardless of things like platform fragmentation?

I do not understand you. What should schools deploy other than consumer level devices? That’s what schools have been doing for years, they usually bought consumer level PCs. It’s just normal.

Things being normal does not mean they are a good idea. How will teaching a class of 30 be improved with the addition of 30 tablets or smartphones, apart from in the rare occasions that you are teaching how to program the things?

It’s a tool like any other, like pen and paper. Why shouldn’t students be able to use up-to-date tools?! I certainly would have loved to have been able to do just that.

It’s funny how you seem to imply that the only useful thing you can do with a computer is to learn how to program things.

It’s not going to be a revolution or a huge improvement (better teachers are the most important thing above all else), but being able to use modern tools seems kinda important to me.

(Do you have any idea how much Grapher† helped me understand math when doing my homework? I wasn’t programming, I was using a modern UI – no stupid graphing calculator that’s a pain to use – to fool around with equations. That was tremendously helpful. Having that kind of power always with you, instant on, with a battery that lasts forever, man, that’s living the dream.)


There is a huge difference from using these devices to help with homework and using them in the classroom though. Also, pens and paper are an extremely cheap, robust, high-resolution, non-volatile, display, computation and memory technology that are amazingly resistant to EM interference and works even in situations of extended power loss.

And given the distractions that a group of schoolkids can create using just pen and paper, I don't see how devices that are primarily designed for consuming media and gaming are really going to help much. Half of them will get broken or stolen and the other half will be hacked.

It's a very good question. Maybe Apples new interactive textbook initiative will help, although I'm not sure about that. But I think that if _any_ electronic device is going to make a difference and be usable in education, it will be a tablet-like device instead of a traditional laptop, simply because they are more portable, take up less space and have longer battery lives.

I'll bite: what non-consumer level smartphones would you suggest for schools? What OS would you suggest (given the discussion here, it obviously can't be the consumer-level iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, or any other OS that runs on a phone a consumer can buy in a consumer mobile store).

I wouldn't suggest any smartphones for schools, I'd have them removed at the door and given back at the end of the day, but that's probably because I have a lot of sympathy with Cliff Stoll's views on computers in classrooms.

I get it. Rewriting your prior post for accuracy:

How does having technology deployed to a school help educate people at all, regardless of things like platform fragmentation?


No, cos then they wouldn't be allowed to teach writing, which is quite a fundamental technology for education.

Is just that I view issuing smartphones or consumer tablets in a classroom to be about as useful and productive as issuing games consoles.

Why do you need technology to teach writing? Many of us learned writing when the only electricity in the classroom powered the lights.

Educational Luddism shouldn't favor subjects.

Writing is a technology.

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