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Google Targets Android Fragmentation With Updated Terms For SDK

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the eula-do-what-we-say dept.

Android 154

SternisheFan writes "Google has expanded its legal agreement with developers working on Android applications to specifically prohibit them from taking any action that could lead to a fragmentation of the operating system. The prohibition was added to the terms and conditions for Google's Android SDK (software development kit), which developers must accept before using the software to build Android apps. The previous version of the terms of service, published in April 2009, didn't address the issue, but the new terms published on Tuesday include this new paragraph: 'You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK.' Google did not respond to several requests for comment. The issue of Android fragmentation has been gaining increased attention, but it's happened largely as a result of actions taken by Google and Android handset makers, not developers. It's a problem because it means that Android applications may not run properly across all Android devices. 'It continues to be a problem, both on smartphones and tablets,' said Avi Greengart, research director at Consumer Devices. 'Google has talked about multiple initiatives for dealing with it, but none of them have successfully addressed it.'"

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So... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41996893)

Will this stop handset makers from bundling crap UIs (I'm talking about you, HTC) with their Android handsets? One step further, will it stop carriers from bundling crap software on the Android handsets they sell?

Re:So... (2)

larry bagina (561269) | about 2 years ago | (#41996979)

sounds more like it's targeting Acer/Aliyun [zdnet.com] . Which isn't the kind of fragmentation most people think of but is the kind Google doesn't like.

Re:So... (3, Interesting)

thedarknite (1031380) | about 2 years ago | (#41997235)

I would have thought that it was targeting OUYA from forking the SDK and bundling it within their console.

Re:So... (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#41997581)

It's not targeting Acer or Aliyun. Google stopped Acer via its partnership agreement and Aliyun OS doesn't need to use a forked SDK to produce apps for Aliyun OS.

Re:So... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997053)

Letting carriers have more control of the handsets was one of the "ins" that android had.

People have really short memories, and forget how some carriers were infamous for disabling features so they could sell them back to you nickle-and-dime. Ringtones, wallpaper, hell they even liked to charge a premium to get photos off of your device. Verizon was known as "the phone raper". They'd sell devices that were hollow shells of their non-US counterparts.

Apple turned that model completely upside down, taking control away from the carriers. This pretty much started the smart phone boom (as we know it). Because of apple, you're not forced to buy apps through the Verizon store. The iphone is an APPLE device. Not an At&T one. Not a verizon one. Apple correctly puts the carriers in their place as commodity bit fingers and communication infrastructure maintainers. (Which the carriers hate with the fury of a billion suns)

Google was looking to be more flexible and "open". They were also willing to play ball with carriers (to boost market share and adoption) and let them molest the devices to a greater extent. But not completely. Google has a baseline standard that has to be followed. Play by Google's terms or no Google apps for you. There's been some friction over this, mostly by companies that think they can remove google maps and charge a premium rate for another product.

Re:So... (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#41997787)

I'll happily agree that Apple started the smart phone boom as we know it, but it certainly wasn't "they didn't allow carriers to customize/lock-in" that did so.

If anything, while Apple is keeping carriers from locking you into their services (well, mostly. Visual Voicemail was AT&T-only, right? right. Sure that was a collaborative effort, but I'm not sure that doesn't make it worse.) they instead lock you into their services.

Windows Mobile (going a long way back), while letting carriers customize (most didn't - t-mobile in germany, O2 and Orange in UK did but mostly visual tweaks), was easily unlocked if needed and restored to stock, and then tweaked far further than even Android allows now (which can be considered both a good or a bad thing). In addition, there were a plethora of app stores not just from the carriers (with few offerings) but third parties.

It was never a highly popular platform, though - and that's the additional factor that Apple did bring to the table.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41998023)

I completely disagree. Carriers are actively customer hostile entities. Everything they touch becomes worse for the end user. The apple phone experience was so good because they didn't let the carriers have their way. It's why Verizon turned down apple for so long. It took Steve Job's massive reality distorting balls to to convince At&t to try it their way. Bam. Smart phone boom.

Just look at Europe, where the GSM standard mandated interoperability. Customers were free to use whatever device they wanted just by slipping in a sim, and they picked devices that weren't carrier crippled. The mobile market there boomed while it stagnated in the US with our carrier-oriented market.

Now we've got devices with a higher degree of consumer control (Yes, apple's walled garden isn't "open" but it's 1000's of times better than anything verizon ever attempted) and the market is huge.

Why didn't I think of that? (4, Funny)

Guspaz (556486) | about 2 years ago | (#41996917)

Of course, the obvious solution to Android fragmentation is an updated EULA! That will fix everything!

Re:Why didn't I think of that? (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about 2 years ago | (#41997071)

Managing access rights to the address book, camera, gps and other more interesting parts (like sending sms) of the system will be fixed next week.

Re:Why didn't I think of that? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997445)

This isn't an attack on fragmentation. This is an attack on Amazon.

Google is furious that people are able to take the "open" Android source and release their own non-Google-approved devices. Even worse, those non-Google devices are more popular than the Google approved ones!

No SDK forks? (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 years ago | (#41996923)

You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK

Wouldn't that prohibit forking? If so, they can't claim it's open source.

Re:No SDK forks? (5, Informative)

XanC (644172) | about 2 years ago | (#41996943)

Being allowed to fork and being allowed to call your fork "Android" are different things.

Re:No SDK forks? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41996975)

It doesn't say "and calling it Android," it simply says "derived from". Isn't most of their SDK GPL'd stuff? gcc etc? They can claim this but does it actually mean anything? Doesn't this mean you can't even use the SDK to, in theory, compile an android version of itself?

Re:No SDK forks? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997073)

There is a very high likelihood they are violating the GPL already. Maybe this scumbag move will get the GNU project to finally get off their asses and deal with the situation.

Re:No SDK forks? (1)

chris.alex.thomas (1718644) | about 2 years ago | (#41997225)

dear sir, you have a very short memory, that is all.

Re:No SDK forks? (3)

Decker-Mage (782424) | about 2 years ago | (#41997277)

If you'd bother to actually read the EULA, anything covered by a separate (prior) agreement such as the GPL is already grandfathered in a prior paragraph so it's still GPL'ed.

Re:No SDK forks? (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#41997149)

Isn't most of their SDK GPL'd stuff? gcc etc?

The GPL applies to gcc if it is bundled with the SDK, but mere bundling -- also known as aggregation -- doesn't cause the GPL to infect other software that it is bundled with.

Re:No SDK forks? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997199)

Sure but that's not the point ... you can't relicense gcc with such restrictions afaik. If I use their bundled GPL'd tools to build a new tool they deem "causes fragmentation" and they sue me, how is that GPL-compliant?

Re:No SDK forks? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#41997419)

They're not suing you for use of gcc, they're suing you because you downloaded a package full of proprietary software that happened to include gcc.

However, nothing stops you from using the gcc in the SDK or downloading it some other way, as long as you don't make use of the Android specific stuff. If all they are doing is providing gcc as-is to compile with, but not linking in GPL'ed code, then the GPL doesn't apply to their own code, which they can license any way they want.

Of course, they do still have to include the GPL license in their distro as well as where to find the source code, etc., but they only have to include this for gcc.

Re:No SDK forks? (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 2 years ago | (#41997017)

This isn't about using trademarks in a branched OS. This about the terms of service for simply using an SDK to develop apps.

Re:No SDK forks? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#41997311)

In other news, RIM just renamed one [blackberry.com] of its Blackberry10 SDKs to LittleGreenRobotWithTwoAntennas Development Kit (LDK).

Re:No SDK forks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41996967)

You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK

Wouldn't that prohibit forking? If so, they can't claim it's open source.

You can fork, just don't call it Android. Trademarks are different than copyrights.

Re:No SDK forks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997061)

I don't think the SDK was free software even before this non fragmentation clause was added:

  3.3 You may not use the SDK for any purpose not expressly permitted by this License Agreement. Except to the extent required by applicable third party licenses, you may not: (a) copy (except for backup purposes), modify, adapt, redistribute, decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, or create derivative works of the SDK or any part of the SDK; or (b) load any part of the SDK onto a mobile handset or any other hardware device except a personal computer, combine any part of the SDK with other software, or distribute any software or device incorporating a part of the SDK.

Re:No SDK forks? (2)

robmv (855035) | about 2 years ago | (#41997281)

I think that applies to the binary SDK, if you go and download sources and build your own SDK you don't need to accept that license, so in my opinion Google is telling Android forkers, go and build your own SDK and don't promote our official SDK as the one for your platform. In other words, Amazon, Baidu and others, do your own work and stop using the binary Android SDK and for the Android developers, stop using the official SDK to distribute your applications on Android forks, go and use their SDK

Re:No SDK forks? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#41997127)

Wouldn't that prohibit forking?

It would prohibit forking the SDK.

If so, they can't claim it's open source.

Did they ever claim that the SDK is open source? They certainly claim that the code that is part of the AOSP is open source, but that's the unbranded version of the OS, which is neither Android nor the Android SDK.

Re:No SDK forks? (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#41997183)

You can fork Android (the FLOSS proyect, not what comes on your phone that usually has aditional software), but not it's SDK.
While Android (or parts of it) are free, the SDK is not (and yes, this does go a bit against the principles of open source software).

Re:No SDK forks? (1)

robmv (855035) | about 2 years ago | (#41997317)

sure? the last time I read you can do a "make sdk", I remember that I built and emulator, not sure if there are other parts not open source, Eclipse ADT tools are there in sdk/eclipse source directory

How will a license agreement solve fragmentation? (2)

etash (1907284) | about 2 years ago | (#41996947)

wouldn't updating all phones to the latest android version be a better solution ?

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41996997)

Then you can't get kickbacks from hardware makers for helping them sell new phones and tablets.

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997003)

Yes, but the carriers rely on withholding updates to enslave you to the Two Year Contract.

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997191)

And the manufacturers are all too happy to support this, as it means they have a pretty solid stream of new sales in the pipeline. Once you get people into your ecosystem, you just give them "slightly better" features every two years while guaranteeing that the phone is just crippled enough to not be easily upgraded from the version of Android it ships with. Nothing says "open" like forcing you to upgrade your hardware every two years to get the latest version of the software!

Can't wait for that fabled Android openness to really take off and revolutionize the industry!

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 2 years ago | (#41998415)

Apple has the new two year contract (optionally now), but updates the iPhones for at least a few years for each model.

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997029)

wouldn't updating all phones to the latest android version be a better solution ?

Perhaps, but one of those things is within their power to do and the other isn't.

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997051)

Problem is, not only would Google have to do that work themselves, they probably would even have to pay some OEMs and carriers for the privilege of doing so. Everything that makes their customers happy with the phone they have is bad for profits, after all.

The N4 is a far better approach IMO. Its feature/price ratio together with the promise of timely updates puts enough pressure on OEMs and carriers while the "accidential" release fuckup makes it a warning shot and not a declaration of war.

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (3, Insightful)

sangreal66 (740295) | about 2 years ago | (#41997125)

Yes, but this is almost certainly just a shot at Amazon (and a preemptive shot at Samsung). It doesn't do anything to address the real fragmentation problem: hardware and other issues causing manufacturers to abandon OS updates a few months after launching phones

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#41997269)

THIS [wikipedia.org] is what this SDK EULA change is about. Google wants to throttle unauthorized Android work-alikes in the cradle. It probably sticks in their craws that legally anyone can build an AOSP-based phone, but there isn't much they can do about that. But completely non-Android systems with Android (Dalvik) runtime capability? Hells, no. You have to use the SDK to develop to that environment, so that's where we'll hit it... no SDK for you!

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 2 years ago | (#41997359)

Anyone being able to build AOSP-based devices was kind of one of the original points of the OS. You're right about the rest, though.

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | about 2 years ago | (#41997451)

Well technically you could develop for the "real" and "hijacked" android OS's at the same time if the hijacked one really did run regular android apps. You wouldn't have to admit (or even care) what phones you're targeting.

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (1)

JanneM (7445) | about 2 years ago | (#41997523)

Which I believe is the point. As long as your stuff will work on regular mainstream Android you're fine. This gives an incentive for actors like Amazon, RIM and so on to kep their stuff fully compatible.

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997137)

Only if "updating" also includes new hardware. The multitude of aspect ratios and screen resolutions is a UI nightmare for anything more complex than angry birds or the start menu for doom / quake. Virtual vs. Physical keyboard brings additional considerations when doing layout design.

Re:How will a license agreement solve fragmentatio (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#41997177)

wouldn't updating all phones to the latest android version be a better solution ?

It limits the use of the SDK in the process of creating non-Android-branded Android-like OS's, which is one aspect of fragmentation.

Google more aggressively pursuing and releasing updates for Google-branded (e.g., Nexus) devices would, for example, be a means of creating pressure on other Android device makers to be better at updating devices and reducing that aspect of fragmentation. (Which is, though, less of a problem for Google than the previously-mentioned kind of fragmentation.)

Fragmentation is multidimensional.

Unconscionable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41996949)

How the hell does a contract prevent you from PROMOTING something? This would be a scummy move by Apple standards, and you had better damn well hope Google gets slapped HARD for this, or you will soon be seeing every SDK demanding you not support their competitors products, ie, porting.

Off-topic (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41996955)

Since some moron modded my on-topic comment down as "Overrated" when it had the default score of 1, I am posting this comment just so another mod will waste her/his mod point just to mark my comment as -1, off-topic. At least this time, it will be deserved.

Re:Off-topic (1, Insightful)

Decker-Mage (782424) | about 2 years ago | (#41997387)

tl;dr

An on-topic post really can be overrated with a score of 1, just as it can be on-topic and a troll, or one of the other negative scores aside from off-topic. While I usually use Overrated as a dissenting vote on up-mods (very rarely), I have also used it for a post (base Karma 1) that adds simply nothing to the topic under discussion. I've done that maybe twice in the years I've been here.

I just happen to have mod points again (happens abut every two to three days), but I was not the person that did the mod; obviously since I'm posting under my username. I try to be rather conscientious about the whole mod duty thang, having been a CompuServe SysOp for a couple of decades including thread-police duties, and I do see evidence every day that most do seem to do their duty well. IAC, there is recourse. Another mod can come along to up it (Underrated is great for this), and/or it may also be picked up in the meta-mod voting as well if somebody really is using mods unwisely.

Way more than needed to be said about the subject.

Re:Off-topic (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41997569)

That will show em, AC.

Re:Off-topic (1)

theArtificial (613980) | about 2 years ago | (#41997707)

> You are now aware that this site has users with a (great) sense of humor.

This is even worse than a walled garden (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 2 years ago | (#41996973)

Prohibits distributions of software libraries? Possibly. Prohibits custom UIs like Swype? Possibly. Who can really say? Anything that causes one person's "experience" of Android to be different from another person's could be termed "fragmentation". All you can hope is that Google Won't Be Evil, whatever their lawyers are now saying.

That language is so flexible and so abstract that a good lawyer could use it to justify practically any kind of prohibition.

Re:This is even worse than a walled garden (3, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | about 2 years ago | (#41997135)

It doesn't prohibit things like Swype. If they wanted to kill Swype, they could do it in one blow- delete the InputMethodService class in the next version. Without it, no more 3rd party keyboards (source: I worked at Swype). As much as Google seemed to love making me jump through hoops to work around their code, I don't see them doing that anytime soon.

I dislike how vaguely this is worded, but it doesn't block libraries either. What it blocks is people making phone specific SDKs, or taking the SDK and making it compile Android app to non-Android devices. Its meant as a counter to some Chinese OEMs doing just that. The only thing I really see that it blocks that was good are things like the original x86 sdk/ndk that people used before Google finally moved from ARM only.

Re:This is even worse than a walled garden (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997251)

What it blocks is people making phone specific SDKs, or taking the SDK and making it compile Android app to non-Android devices. Its meant as a counter to some Chinese OEMs doing just that.

Hey guys, Andy Rubin just tweeted a new definition of Open!

"The new definition of open:
if ($phone.location() eq "China") { print "LOLOLO NO. BAD ASUS/ALIYUN."; exit 1; }
if ($phone.mfgr() ne "Motorola" ) { print "Sorry, preferred partners only!"; exit 1; }
if ($phone.ageYrs() 2) {print "Your phone is good enough on whatever version it shipped with. Stop fragmenting our lovely fenced garden and wait for your 2 year refresh."; exit 1;}

# if by some miracle they make it to here, we might as well let them compile the fucking thing.
mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make”

Who would've guessed that openness would require so damn many restrictions?!

Re:This is even worse than a walled garden (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#41997643)

Acer, not Asus.

Re:This is even worse than a walled garden (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997657)

Bah. s/ASUS/ACER/g. Can never keep those two straight, they should just merge.

Re:This is even worse than a walled garden (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41997563)

I think they are trying to be sure that phones with a specific OS version have all the expected feature from the SDK. So a manufacturer doesn't block a feature, thus making certain apps not work

Android is open right? (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 2 years ago | (#41996985)

Well, of course the Android has a problem with all the different flavors. Fragmentation is a problem for Google's baby.

Buuuuuuut, if Android is open, of course people are free to fork it, expand it, trim it, and do whatever they want with it. Any action which restricts our ability to do that is... well... wrong.

If they wanted there to be a clear winner, they should just you know, pick one and publicly say "HERE. THIS ONE. THIS GUY RIGHT HERE. HE'S HAS JUST WON THE INTERNET AND HIS VERSION OF THE ANDROID IS THE ONE TRUE FLAVOR! We're not going to give two shits about anyone else's version and we're throwing our weight behind this one. (or two, or twelve, whatever)". And just kind of hope that everyone picks it and a de-facto standard emerges. But the whole "constructive competition" thing is kind of important for the open source.

Like Java? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41996993)

We certainly would not want to create any non-standard forks now would we? **Cough** **Java** **cough**

Re:Like Java? (1)

Thantik (1207112) | about 2 years ago | (#41997557)

The dalvik interpreter isn't java. Never claimed to be. It's not a fork either, it merely uses java as its intermediary language for programming.

What google needs to do... (1)

dehole (1577363) | about 2 years ago | (#41997021)

is to set minimum spec's for the devices that are supported by the Google Market. They should have required a minimum discrete GPU if they wanted to guarantee minimum operating performance, but that didn't align with their needs...

All google cares about is maintaining the quality of their advertising platform, Android. Yes, a free phone OS sounds nice, until you realize that they store every action you perform on that device, or everywhere you go with that device. While databases like this have existed before (carriers can easily keep track of where you are via cell towers), what makes google so nefarious, is that they are so good at it.

Imagine every strange search query being saved (including all characters until you finally pressed enter), your exact picture being saved, every email you have ever sent being saved. It's a one stop shop for all the data that is you (well, need to stop by facebook as well). You give one company that power, for what?

Re:What google needs to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997623)

UHm so if I wanted to have an android based system for something like controlling my thermostat and give it access to google market, I shouldn't be allowed to because it doesn't have a discrete GPU?!

Re:What google needs to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41998321)

UHm so if I wanted to have an android based system for something like controlling my thermostat and give it access to google market, I shouldn't be allowed to because it doesn't have a discrete GPU?!

Basically, yes. One of Android's downfalls, is that many of the handsets don't have a discrete GPU, which makes the performance pretty poor when it comes to the more intensive games. So app developers for Android need to test with a range of phones with a range of configurations, to get a good sample of their applications performance before they release it.

Having a discrete GPU by itself probably wouldn't fix things, but it was one of the things that stood out to me when comparing Android to an iPod or iPhone. With Android, the graphics was never as smooth as with an iPod. It probably doesn't help that I have a cheap Android phone either.

Re:What google needs to do... (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about 2 years ago | (#41997689)

what makes google so nefarious

do you know what that words means? google doesn't hide the fact that they gather information. it's well known. heck, even you know it.

You give one company that power, for what?

for the massive number of free services they offer? ever heard of google search? when's the last time you dug into your wallet to pay for that service? do you understand how much infrastructure and development resources go into google search? they offer you a product for allowing them to track you. that product is search, email, calendar, google apps on android, and so on. if you don't want to pay the price, don't consume the product. it's quite simple.

maybe you think that companies should just make and give you free stuff for nothing. that's not how the world works.

and one last thought, if you think microsoft, apple, at&t and so on are not sending personal data back to their servers every time you use one of their products, i have a nice bridge to tell you, cheap. all companies that can track you do track you.

Re:What google needs to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41998287)

for the massive number of free services they offer? ever heard of google search? when's the last time you dug into your wallet to pay for that service? do you understand how much infrastructure and development resources go into google search? they offer you a product for allowing them to track you. that product is search, email, calendar, google apps on android, and so on. if you don't want to pay the price, don't consume the product. it's quite simple.

Yes, lots of great free services, all supported by ads. I understand that I don't have to use their services, but I still can fight for privacy.

maybe you think that companies should just make and give you free stuff for nothing. that's not how the world works.

If you aren't the customer, you're the product.

and one last thought, if you think microsoft, apple, at&t and so on are not sending personal data back to their servers every time you use one of their products, i have a nice bridge to tell you, cheap. all companies that can track you do track you.

Yep, almost any company you come across aggregates your data, Google isn't alone in this. They are just the best.

Re:What google needs to do... (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about 2 years ago | (#41998377)

If you aren't the customer, you're the product.

ooooh intense.

yes, everyone knows that. we understand how the advertising world works. we're okay with it.

Yep, almost any company you come across aggregates your data, Google isn't alone in this. They are just the best.

good, and i hope you don't use any of those products or visit and ad-supported websites. or maybe you just like talking the talk?

fragmentation not due to developers (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 years ago | (#41997023)

The fragmentation problem is because there are so many different versions of Android still out there, with different screen sizes, hardware capabilities, sensor availability, etc.

I don't really see how this is going to change much.

Re:fragmentation not due to developers (2)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#41997201)

I love my Motorola Defy. But it still ist stuck with 2.something stuck behind the refusal of T-Mobile to update it which in turn is stuck behind Moto's lack of eagerness to update it.

I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of the best phones I ever had(before that I had a Nokia E61...it ran DoTT!) and nobdy seems to want to build something similar. I keep it in my trouser pocket together with a menacing set of keys and all the lint I can find. It as shielded my valuable, precious testicles from team lint and team keys for 2 years by now and still goes on. March on, brave soldier march on.

Today I spent 2 hours searching for something to replace it. Something with more power and a bit more up to date. Oh sure, their were lots of trollops waving their OLEDs and HDs and other D-cups my way. And I have to admit for a moment I was tempted. BUT THERE IS NOTHING COMPARES TO MY DEFY!

Update it!
{insert picture of sadface testicles here}

On related news: Slashdot needs emeddable pictures. I'll even shave and call the Sinéad.

Re:fragmentation not due to developers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997289)

pictures? here? OH HELL NO!
What you are looking for is.... the rest of the web where every conversation devolves into a stupid funny picture posting contest.

Go back to fark or some other site of the memeweb and fuck right off here.

Pictures... here... man... if i could i'd slap you upside the head right now. ijit.

Defy can run Jelly Bean, no need to replace it (2)

knarf (34928) | about 2 years ago | (#41997409)

Uhhh... I have a Defy as well (Defy+ actually but the difference is negligible). It runs Jelly Bean (4.1.2) [xda-developers.com] . There is now an early demo of Jelly Bean 4.2, the version just launched with the new Nexus 4 and Nexus 10.

You don't need to replace your Defy. Just root it if you haven't already, and install one of the many available roms on it - everything from Gingerbread through ICS and JB 4.1.2. The Defy is actually a good example of how futile those locked boot loaders and restricted systems really are: the latest Jelly Bean versions run a custom kernel.

Re:fragmentation not due to developers (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#41997675)

Plain old Defy is Android 2.2 - I got one with CyanogenMod 7.2 which gives it Android 2.3
Motorola Defy XT and Defy+ are Android 2.3
Sony has a rugged phone called the Xperia go with Android 4.0. I personally didn't buy an Xperia because I hate Sony.

Re:fragmentation not due to developers (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about 2 years ago | (#41997719)

I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of the best phones I ever had

that's an amazing feat no doubt. so why are you begging them to change it? seriously, you sound like the type of person that values function over fashion. get over the fact that your version is two numbers lower than newer phones, and be happy with your "best phone ever".

Re:fragmentation not due to developers (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41997541)

fragmentation is due to developers. A lot of the developers don't know how to handle different devices. It's not really that hard, but you know how Noobs are.

Fragmentation is an issue in two forms. OS version, and Cell phone fragmentation.

OS version is pretty easy. Just list min requirements and detect if the device meets them when your app starts.

Phone fragmentation is harder, in that 2 phones could be running 4.1 but one manufacture may have shut down a particular feature. Essentially creating a fork with the same version. Easy to detect that a phone doesn't have na expected feature...but a lot of dev. dont actually check. I"m looking at you Pop Cap games.

Re:fragmentation not due to developers (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about 2 years ago | (#41997699)

and, this article and the new terms of the agreement have nothing to do with that problem.

but its Java? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#41997031)

what happened to the write-once, run anywhere concept?

See, if Google made Android as part OS features, part Java API, then you could run an updated app against an old phone and the new features you expect to be present would simply not work - it'd throw an exception at runtime if the user attempted to use the missing API call (assuming the dev didn't look for and hide that option).

Android fragmentation isn't any more of a problem than the existing problem of having lots of phones running different stock Android versions.

Re:but its Java? (2)

Wyzard (110714) | about 2 years ago | (#41997283)

Apps can be written to use new features where available but degrade gracefully where they're not.

Every app has both a "minimum SDK version" that identifies which version of Android it requires, and a "target SDK version" that identifies the latest version of Android that it knows about. At runtime, the app can check which version it's actually running on, and enable or disable features as appropriate.

If an app is is run on an Android version newer than the app's "target", the OS itself will do whatever's needed to be backward-compatible with the target version. The developer can update the app and change the target version in order to take control of any new features and differences.

Re:but its Java? (1)

s73v3r (963317) | about 2 years ago | (#41997405)

Yes, that's all possible. But it's also a lot of extra work.

Re:but its Java? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41997517)

Apps can be written to do that, but mist app writers don't really know what they are doing.

Prevent Custom SDK's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997037)

So, Amazon can't create an SDK for Kindles based on Google's SDK that better targets their App Store. If they do, then developers that use it could be accused of participating in the "fragmentation"

Re:Prevent Custom SDK's (1)

robmv (855035) | about 2 years ago | (#41997573)

What I think this means: Amazon can create their own SDK, fork everything they want, the SDK is on Android source repositories, emulator, eclipse plugins, etc (I don't know if all of it), Developers can use Amazon SDK if they like, but developers can not use the Google SDK binary if they promote other non compatible forks. So if someone build an independent SDK from the sources, this is solved, until Google add rules like this to Google Play

OSS (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#41997111)

I thought android was OSS and as such the code was available. What is to keep people from using the old libraries, developing them as they wish, and then just interfacing with what other tools they need?

Re:OSS (1)

p0p0 (1841106) | about 2 years ago | (#41997395)

I the device drivers for a specific hardware configuration aren't OSS and therefore it's incredibly difficult to build from source specifically for your device. I have a limited understanding but I believe it is something along those lines.

Anyone with more insight care to comment?

Those that do not understand iOS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997123)

will forever reinvent it. Poorly.

Re:Those that do not understand iOS (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997527)

You don't have to reinvent it poorly. It was invented poorly in the first place.

Why (4, Funny)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#41997161)

Why does fragmentation matter on Android devices? They all use Flash RAM drives, so its not spending time seeking like the old physical hard drives

Re:Why (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#41997247)

Sequential reads and writes are still faster than random. Particularly on cheap flash drives.

Muppet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997315)

and this is worth 3 !!!

sheesh

Re:Why (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | about 2 years ago | (#41997365)

Version fragmentation, like having some computer running windows 2000, some running XP, some running 7, etc. Or having an office with 5 different linux distros. It makes it harder to guarantee your program works anywhere.

Re:Why (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 2 years ago | (#41997435)

Exactly. Until recently, it's been Whoosh v5.2.3 you would hear overhead, though nowadays you get anything from Whoosh v6.x through Whoosh 14 or more! WTF (Whoosh Through Fragmentation)!?!

Re:Why (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41997501)

And you handle it like Windows applications do:
Min requirement
OS 4.0.4

Yeah, a game developed for phones released today don't work on something that's 2 years old. shocking.

Virgin is still selling 2.x handsets (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#41997771)

The reality is that in the beginning of November 2012, Virgin Mobile USA was still selling phones that come with Android 2.x, and owners of those phones expect to run applications advertised as compatible with Android.

The Biggest Market Share (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | about 2 years ago | (#41997323)

Haha... maybe that's why Android's market share has increase. People need to by multiple phones for different apps.

Maybe fragmentation isn't so bad after all.

Is this targeting Amazon? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#41997401)

I thought the Fire was basically a forked version of Android. So this would seem to say, if you want to publish with Google you could not also publish for Amazon.

Perhaps I am misreading this, but it seems like the only way it could actually have an effect on fragmentation.

Re:Is this targeting Amazon? (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about 2 years ago | (#41997777)

I thought the Fire was basically a forked version of Android. So this would seem to say, if you want to publish with Google you could not also publish for Amazon.

no. kindle is 100% android so it runs all android apps (theoretically).

this just says that android devices must come with the android SDK- amazon can't take the android SDK and modify it into something else such that apps written to the kindle SDK won't run on other pure android devices.

note that it doesn't prevent amazon from create a kindle SDK that sits on top of the android SDK.

think back to the old MSFT - Sun lawsuit where MSFT took the Java SDK and created J++.

Unfortunately for Amazon... (2)

MetricT (128876) | about 2 years ago | (#41997469)

... Google failed to appreciate how popular its new terms would be, and sold out in less than an hour, so it will take 3 more weeks until the next shipment of terms arrives.

I pity Amazon, having to wait 3 more weeks for terms.

[No, not bitter at all about being backordered, why do you ask...]

I like Android..but (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41997487)

I like android devices. I like to be able to just drag any music or file over from any computer.
I like that it gets a lot of tech before the iPhone
I like that I can switch to a different manufacture and have it largely be the same. Some manufactures may radically change it, but that's rare.
Clearly, not an Android haters.
However there is a problem.
I got the Nexus S at best buy. And I got the replacement warranty.
After a year I dropped my phone and broke it. My fault.
So I take it to best buy for a replacement, and get a new Nexus S.

The problem was, it had 2.3 on it.
So, how do I get it updated?
Tmobile wouldn't update it, Google won't update it, Best Buy won't update it. It's stupid. While I am comfortable manually doing it, not a lot of consumers are.
I have to find the right version for my deice, and manually updated it to 4.0.4

Of course, now I need to manually update it to 4.1.2 This update risks bricking the phone and I have to violate my warranty to do it.

So Google, Fix this problem. It should detect it's out of data, up autoupdate when I boot it up fore the first time.

I have put off buying a tablet becasue of this, and I am seriously considering getting an iPad even though it has fewer features.

Re:I like Android..but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997651)

I know this will surprise you, but it will keep working on 2.3 just fine. You don't *have* to update it.

No SNI on Android 2.x (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#41997829)

The Chrome browser doesn't work on 2.x, and the browser that comes with 2.x can't see SSL sites that use SNI.

Cyanogen and others? (2)

RevSpaminator (1419557) | about 2 years ago | (#41997509)

How will this affect the replacement images developed by the user community? I've been running community offshoots of Android for years now and I would hate that ecosystem hit by this.

Get ready for it boys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997521)

It might not be a walled garden but you best believe that this move will be used liberally by Google to stifle innovation with companies that aren't on friendly terms. Try to make up whatever bullshit you want to explain it away but I assure you this is the beginning of the end of the culture of innovation for Android. At least innovation that isn't bought or produced by Google.
 
We seen something in a similar nature a few years ago when Google nixed a bunch of experimental technologies that they were funding. Google grew up and became a suit and tie firm even if their outward appearance doesn't show it. Android will become part of the 9-5 business culture as well. Google would probably have done this 2 years ago if they had the marketshare and the foresight into RIM that they have today.

Because of Handset makers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997605)

>The issue of Android fragmentation has been gaining increased attention, but it's happened largely as a result of actions taken by Google and Android handset makers, not developers. It's a problem because it means that Android applications may not run properly across all Android devices.

Really? Because I have seen two main causes:
1. CARRIERS hold up updates that the handset makers release, so lots of people are running old versions of their phone's OS. Sure, it might take the maker some time to port the new version of Android to their phone, but what really takes time is the carriers porting their crapware. f.e. Sharp bundles dictionaries, an improved Japanese input system, and lots of other useful stuff to their phone. They also add support and drivers for built-in hardware like TV Receiver, JApan specific NFC type stuff, pedometer, etc. What do the carriers add? Stupid shit nobody wants, that's what - and it takes them 6 months to do it. F.e. the global model my Sony Xperia Acro HD S was updated months ago by Sony. For my phone, though, NTT Docomo has to release the update...

2.. Software makers sometimes purposely only support certain phones. Hulu is a big example here. It would probably work on the Samsung Note, but it immediately pops up a message saying "this device is not supported". (Acro HD S used to do that too until one day they added support). If the program is written "normally" and it doesn't work, I might forgive them, but if it purposely white-lists supported devices, I view that as a "fuck you" from the developers.

Re:Because of Handset makers? (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 2 years ago | (#41997943)

To be fair it can be a real pain to get even a small app running. I wrote a little mirror app [google.com] and I can't get the darn thing to show up as compatible with my phone. You know, the phone I used to developer the thing...

In conclusion, open (1)

Swampash (1131503) | about 2 years ago | (#41997805)

Where "openness" is "doing only what Google says you're allowed to do"

I have the answer that will solve it overnight... (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41997807)

You cant call it android unless it is the current version or the previous version. Anything older can NOT be called or branded android in any way.

Suddenly the Lazy bums at HTC and Sony will actually use the latest OS for their phones and push out updates.

Great job, Google! (1)

sootman (158191) | about 2 years ago | (#41998171)

Now all you need to do is follow up on your "swift updates for all devices" promise from 18 months ago [arstechnica.com] and we'll be all set!

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