Android's Weakest Link

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.

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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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6 comments
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  • 92% Post Consumer Waste Recycling

    First time I'm mentioning this, but not the first time I've noticed.

    Isn't this essentially Arrington's comments with a nominal wrap around?

    And this deserves a by-line?

    Do you agree with the source? Do you disagree? Don't you have anything to add? Does this matter? Can I get your job? It looks easier than mine.
    DannyO_0x98
  • apple's superiority

    it seems simple but all the others don't seem to get it right.
    you need to have one unified platform, one code base to
    create a large ecosystem. (why do you think all the iphone
    models and the ipod touch have the same screen size - even
    resolution - and as a customer you are basically forced to run the
    actual iphone OS version?)

    android will be a strong contender to the iphone maybe even
    eclipse it in marketshare but it is still plagued from the same
    archtitectual problem that windows mobile had ("had" as in: it
    is gone forever). it has to run on a lot of different devices
    with different hardware designs (screen size, button layout,
    carrier customisations). having 3 different versions of the OS
    in the wild, doesn't help. lots of problems for developers and
    customers vs. write once for 50 million unified devices and
    no problems.

    bannedfromzdnetagain
    • Hah

      I completely disagree with your statement "Windows Mobile is gone forever". I don't think so. Almost all the major carriers still carry Windows Mobile Phones. 3rd Largest Mobile device maker HTC still makes more Windows Mobile devices than Android. Windows Mobile would definately rebound its market and resurge into mainstream. All it needs is a correct version.

      And coming to original statement, as long as you have .NET Framework installed on your Windows Mobile device (no matter, who is the maker, what is the chip architecture or who is the carrier) the application will run and you don't have to maintain various versions of codebase, only thing is you have to make sure you are talking to Windows Mobile Standard (keyboard input) or Windows Mobile Professional (touch screen input) and for majority of applications needs this can be programed easily. I am 100% damn sure about the fact that you never developed anything for Windows Mobile.

      PS. We own 3 iphone 3Gs, 2 iPod Touches (2nd Gen), an Android G1 and a variety of Windows Mobile and Windows CE devices ranging from handhelds to latest AT&T Pure. I develop apps for iPhone, Windows Mobile and Android.I know what I am talking about.

      My 2 cents.
      --Ram--
      Ram U
  • RE: Android's Weakest Link

    Yes and you pay for that closed model. The real question is can you blend the power of the iPhone with the openess of Windows.
    Dave Greenfield
    • I think the answer is certification

      Google created Android as an open-source platform. I
      love that, but I saw this coming from the first time I
      ready about android. If Google "certified" handsets as
      being compatible with the AppStore I think that could
      do a LOT to unify the architecture and keep developers
      from doing radical changes. As for the differences
      between versions, I think that will probably stabilize
      after Android matures. It just will suck for the
      pioneers.
      shadfurman
  • RE: Android's Weakest Link

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