Android's Weakest Link

Summary:Just as as a slew of Android-based phones are getting ready to hit the market, the open source mobile platform is facing its biggest challenge - itself.TechCrunch is reporting that Android developers are pretty pissed about having to support multiple code bases for each Android-based phone:We’ve spoken with a number of high profile Android application developers.

Just as as a slew of Android-based phones are getting ready to hit the market, the open source mobile platform is facing its biggest challenge - itself.

TechCrunch is reporting that Android developers are pretty pissed about having to support multiple code bases for each Android-based phone:

We’ve spoken with a number of high profile Android application developers. All of them, without exception, have told me they are extremely frustrated with Android right now. For the iPhone, they build once and maintain the code base. On Android, they built once for v.1.5, but are getting far less installs than the iPhone.

And now they’re faced with a landslide of new handsets, some running v.1.6 and some courageous souls even running android v.2.0. All those manufacturers/carriers are racing to release their phones by the 2009 holiday season, and want to ensure the hot applications will work on their phones. And here’s the problem – in almost every case, we hear, there are bugs and more serious problems with the apps.

There are whispers of backwards and forwards compatibility issues as well, making the problem even worse.

More than one developer has told us that this isn’t just a matter of debugging their existing application to ensure that it works on the various handsets. They say they’re going to have to build and maintain separate code for various Android devices. Some devices seem to have left out key libraries that are forcing significant recoding efforts, for example. With others, it’s more of a mystery.

Imagine if Windows developers had to build different versions of their applications for different PC manufacturers. Or even different versions for various models by a single manufacturer. That’s what some Android developers are saying they are facing now.

Arlington goes onto point out that the news may not be as alarming as it sounds just yet for a number of reasons including:

The real test will come in a month or so when sales of multiple devices running v.1.6 of Android ramp up. If apps are running bug-free cross-device without tons of developer frustration, Android may be looking good. But if developers are forced to create and maintain multiple versions of their apps for various devices, Android may be in trouble. The whole idea of Android is to let app developers build once and let users install on any Android device. Right now, it’s not a certainty that will happen.

You can read more over at Techmeme.

Topics: Mobility, Open Source

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