August 14, 2014, 2:44 PM — Fragmentation has been a big problem for Android for a long time, and it's caused quite a bit of frustration among users who have been unable to update their devices to the latest version of Android. Google is aware of this, and back in July Dazeinfo looked at how Android L might affect problems with fragmentation (including wearables).
According to Dazeinfo:
Android L expands from smartphones and tablets to new device types such as smartwatches, wearables, TVs and cars. Google has banned UI customisation in Android Auto, Android Wear and Android TV operating systems. Google has also made it necessary for OEMs to include the ‘Powered By Android’ logo in the boot screen animation of every Android device which comes pre-installed with Google Mobile Services.
Currently, brands like Amazon.com, Inc., Xiaomi, Oppo, Meizu and Gionee fork Android to make custom operating systems according to their liking. But with each passing day and each newer version of Android, Google is moving a lot of rich APIs from AOSP to Google Mobile Services (GMS) making it harder and harder of anyone to develop parallel devices with forked versions of Android.
Google seems wisely determined to avoid fragmentation headaches in Android wearables, as noted in a recent tweet back to a user who asked about updating Android Wear devices. Hopefully, Android L will provide users with a superior Android experience by insuring that they get the latest updates with a minimum of fuss on their Android wearables.
Not everybody thinks that Android L is a panacea for fragmentation problems, however. A columnist at ZDNet thinks that Android L isn't going to make much of a difference and that users and developers will still face "fragmentation hell." I think that his view is overly pessimistic and I would remind him that the longest journey starts with a single step.
The article I excerpted above has a look at some of the features in Android L, but you can also check out a developer preview version of it on Google's Android L site. Wikipedia has an overview article about Android L, and Android Central has some good coverage of Android L.
Google has seen the problems created by fragmentation in Android phones, and they seemed bound and determined to prevent it from happening in Android Wear devices. I hope they stick to their guns, it will only benefit the users of Android wearables.
Your favorite Android browser?
Reddit has an interesting thread about Android users choice of browsers. Which one do you use?
According to Reddit:
I've been using the default stock Internet browser for years, but I'd maybe like to change. Pros and cons of the browser you use?
There are lots of different browsers for Android. So if you're in the market for a new one then be sure to check out the Google Play store's list of Android browsers. Many of them are free so it could be worth poking around and trying some different ones before you settle on a final choice for your Android device. The Next Web also has a list of ten of the best browsers for Android that's worth checking out.
Android and the decline of Samsung
The Motley Fool wonders if the decline of Samsung could be bad for Android.
According to The Motley Fool:
In that sense, Samsung's recent weakness is a poor sign for Google's mobile ecosystem -- despite widespread speculation that it would eventually introduce a fork of its own, Samsung has remained loyal to Google's mobile operating system.
To be clear, Google's version of Android is still overwhelmingly dominant -- it shipped on nearly two-thirds of the world's smartphones last quarter. Samsung's decline won't doom Google's mobile ecosystem by any means, but the weakness of what Google calls its "fellow traveler" certainly won't help.
I completely disagree with the idea that Samsung's problems are going to negatively affect Android. Samsung is one Android vendor among many, and its relationship with Google has been very tense...to say the least...at times. The two companies have often bickered over this or that issue, and I doubt Google really cares much about Samsung's fortunes one way or the other.
If Samsung were to withdraw entirely from the Android market, other vendors would quickly fill the space. That is the harsh reality for Samsung, and there's not much they can do about it except to try to add enough value to their products that consumers choose them over offerings from their competitors.
What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.
The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.