How much of a problem is Android fragmentation?


While I still hear complaints about Android fragmentation from time to time, it seems as if those complaints are much less common than they used to be. Am I just going deaf, or is fragmentation not as much of an issue as it used to be? If it isn’t, what’s changed?

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It is still a concern, but Google Play Services is going a long way towards minimizing the impact. It is a system level process to which Google can push updates to autonomously without any input from the user or carrier. This allows Google to do an end around carriers and manufacturers that are notorious for dragging their feet with updates, especially with older or lower end devices. Since Google Play Service is compatible with all versions of Android 2.2+, this allows Google to make changes that minimize the impacts of fragmentation. In fact, I have an old Android Phone running vanilla 2.2 Froyo that I use over WiFi only, and it is surprising how many modern apps will still run acceptable on it. This devices is rooted and overclocked, but still, it is a seriously old device that is still reasonably functional. Fragmentation does pose issues for devs and it would be nice if new versions of Android OS were quickly pushed out to most users, but it is not as serious of a problem as some would have you believe. Google is obviously aware of the issue, and I suspect Google Play Services is only a first step to make it less of a problem.    


After I wrote my answer, I did a little more reading and came across an article on Ars Technica that discusses Google Play Service in some detail. If you want to read it, you can find it HERE.  
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Sspade, your link didn't come through in your post but I think this is the Ars article you mentioned:

Balky carriers and slow OEMs step aside: Google is defragging Android

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