Android forking?!?!?! DON'T PANIC!

Android forking?!?!?! DON'T PANIC!

Summary: So, Google has forked the Android open-source project ... but DON'T PANIC!

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TOPICS: Open Source
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So, Google has forked the Android open-source project ... but DON'T PANIC!

Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' - First look | Android 3.0 Image gallery

So there's now two projects, one for handsets which is based on Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" and another for tablets based on Android 3.0 "Honeycomb."

Here are the details as supplied by Xavier Ducrohet, Android SDK (Software Development Kit) Tech Lead:

Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) is a new version of the Android platform that is designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets. It introduces a new “holographic” UI theme and an interaction model that builds on the things people love about Android — multitasking, notifications, widgets, and others — and adds many new features as well.

Besides the user-facing features it offers, Android 3.0 is also specifically designed to give developers the tools and capabilities they need to create great applications for tablets and similar devices, together with the flexibility to adapt existing apps to the new UI while maintaining compatibility with earlier platform versions and other form-factors.

This sounds like something we should all panic over, right? More fragmentation. More versions. More confusion.

DON'T PANIC. Take a few deep breaths and read this:

Android 3.0 brings a new UI designed for tablets and other larger screen devices, but it also is fully compatible with applications developed for earlier versions of the platform, or for smaller screen sizes. Existing applications can seamlessly participate in the new holographic UI theme without code changes, by adding a single attribute in their manifest files. The platform emulates the Menu key, which is replaced by the overflow menu in the Action Bar in the new UI. Developers wanting to take fuller advantage of larger screen sizes can also create dedicated layouts and assets for larger screens and add them to their existing applications.

Personally, I think that this is a good move. Just as Apple allowed iOS to have iPhone and iPad apps, this allows developers to better cater for the platform they are targeting. Smartphone apps shouldn't look like tablet apps, and tablet apps should look like smartphone apps. This forking of Android makes sense.

Topic: Open Source

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8 comments
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  • RE: Android forking?!?!?! DON'T PANIC!

    They are sticking a fork in Android? Haha! About time.
    Tiggster
    • RE: Android forking?!?!?! DON'T PANIC!

      @Tiggster

      Why would anyone worry about another fork? THis seems to happen about every other day.
      tonymcs@...
  • RE: Android forking?!?!?! DON'T PANIC!

    "Fork" really doesn't seem to be the proper term - just the one that generated hits. "Branch" is a more accurate description. The changes seem to be in the UI systems, but other aspects will be the same, the development team has not fragmented etc

    A "Fork" would be a group splintering off of the main development team and creating a new, parallel project with no communications with the parent/original project.

    A "branch" is parallel development with new features but related to the same code base in the same version control system etc.

    The hyperbole on ZDNet seems to be increasing.
    chipbeef
    • RE: Android forking?!?!?! DON'T PANIC!

      @chipbeef I think that's exactly right - this is a "branch". I also think the version numbering is instructive, surely

      2.3->3.0

      This is just an evolution, probably not even a branch, just a major version upgrade (the "major" feature being support for physically larger displays).

      Regardless, we've been living with "Android forks" already, what are the custom versions deployed by different OEMs if not forks? Sure they fold in changes from the root (eventually) but they are forks.
      jeremychappell
  • Get your forking facts right!

    As I told your colleague SJ Vaughn-Nichols, after examining the new preview SDK for most of the day yesterday I see no evidence of a fork.

    There are new APIs and new tools, but the SDK continues to be fully backwards compatible.

    Just as with the iPad introducing PopupViews and SplitView in iOS 3.2, Honeycomb introduces new mechanisms to display richer UIs for tablets. That does not mean these new mechanisms won't work or scale back for use on future smartphones.

    Plus, at the core OS level Honeycomb also introduces new features like SMP support that will certainly be used across a wide variety of Android products, not just tablets.

    Developers targeting tablets and larger devices will want to take advantage of these new abilities, but that's not all that different from targeting any other device-specific Android feature.
    rlawler
  • Really! Don't Panic.

    Fascinating. This is the second post on ZDNet today from someone freaking out about Android "forking," while neither has actually presented evidence of forking.
    Yes, Google has been pushing that pushing the fact that Android 3.0 is designed with tablets in mind, because they want manufacturers to use 3.0 on tablets and developers to know that there will be better tools for making their apps work better on tablets with 3.0. Also, they have said that earlier versions shouldn't be used on tablets because it is not designed for the larger screen size. But not once have they even alluded that 3.0 would not be used on phones. In fact, they have made veiled references to the opposite. For example:

    "Android 3.0 brings a new UI designed for tablets and other larger screen devices, but it also is fully compatible with applications developed for earlier versions of the platform, or for smaller screen sizes. Existing applications can seamlessly participate in the new holographic UI theme without code changes, by adding a single attribute in their manifest files."

    That all said to me that 3.0 will be compatible with many sizes of screens. I agree with chipbeef, "The hyperbole on ZDNet seems to be increasing."
    Godzilak
  • RE: Android forking?!?!?! DON'T PANIC!

    nope, no panic, considering the state of the economy where i live, i won't be buying and fancy phones/tablets any time soon. Maybe when android reaches version 15 if I'm lucky
    d.marcu
  • Sounds like you already have...

    ...somewhat telling when one writes an article that says don't panic in CAPS.
    james347