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Study suggests iOS fragmentation worse than Android

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It?s that time of month again: Android?s platform distribution numbers are up for the period ending September 1, and things are looking pretty good. Android 2.1 is up to nearly 41.7% of the market, and 2.2 checks in at 28.7% ? between the two, 70% of Android phones are running 2.1 or better.

and_frag_sept1_thumb.png

Android 1.5 and 1.6 still measure at a combined 29.5% of all devices. Obviously, any number above 0 isn?t good, but as long as the rate is dropping, we?ll take it.

and_frag_sept1_2_thumb1.png

In early August, we found some data from Chitika which suggested that fragmentation is worse in iOS than Android. Given the continued consolidation of the Android, it?s not surprising to see that iOS fragmentation is still substantially worse than that of Android.

iOS_frag_thumb.png

Interesting stuff indeed, although the mandatory disclaimer: the Chitika data is a sample, whereas the Android data is from the population.

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Look at all those people waiting on 4.0.1, most of them waiting for a jailbreak no doubt :)

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Article is a bit silly as point releases from Android are different from point releases on iOS. The sub-point releases like 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 should be categorized together as they're bug fix releases that have no bearing on the minimum requirements for apps in the App Store. Hell, all 4.0.1 did was adjust the signal bars.

iOS 3.2 is also an iPad limited release. Something more accurate would be:

3.x.x: 31.82%

3.2 (iPad only): 12.72%

4.x.x: 34.05%

other: 21.42%

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I believe this study may have been done before iOS 4.1 was released

And @ Giga even with those figures re-adjusted it still doesn't paint iOS in a light any more favourable than that of Android, so in reality the old iPhone fan argument of "Android is far too fragmented" no longer applies.

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I think complaining about Android "fragmentation" is a bit stupid. Since when was having multiple OS versions considered fragmentation, especially when newer OSs are backwards compatible. Is Google supposed to stop improving Android? "Hey look, we just shipped Froyo, lets take a year off and let manufacturers update their handsets and let the competition surpass us."

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I believe this study may have been done before iOS 4.1 was released

And @ Giga even with those figures re-adjusted it still doesn't paint iOS in a light any more favourable than that of Android, so in reality the old iPhone fan argument of "Android is far too fragmented" no longer applies.

It applies. Just because iOS has demonstrated fragmentation (there is still an issue with the sample, but assume it's fair) doesn't instantly mean that Android isn't fragemented either. It means they're both fragemented, and furthermore, what fragementation means is also specific to each platform. There's not as wide a variety of hardware on iOS devices for example.

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From a developer's perspective, the actual OS version isn't where fragmentation is a problem. As a developer, you choose the oldest OS version you want to support and make sure your app works on that, optionally adding stuff that's only available in newer releases.

The fragmentation that's difficult is the amount of different devices are there, with different amounts of memory, CPU, display resolution, etc. That is a pain in the ass, because you have to account for everything in development and testing.

At least with the iPhone/iPod touch, the hardware is updated once a year, and in a way that at least helps developers a little bit. Yes, it's still a pain in the ass, but nowhere near as bad as it is with the Android market. The retina display on iPhone 4 and the new iPod touch is exactly twice the resolution of the older devices, meaning artwork can be pixel doubled and look respectable.

tl;dr: OS version fragmentation is a lot less important than hardware fragmentation on mobile OSes.

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I think complaining about Android "fragmentation" is a bit stupid. Since when was having multiple OS versions considered fragmentation, especially when newer OSs are backwards compatible. Is Google supposed to stop improving Android? "Hey look, we just shipped Froyo, lets take a year off and let manufacturers update their handsets and let the competition surpass us."

Agreed, it is the manufacturer's faults. The simple economics of wanting to sell new handsets takes over. Besides, I have never actually ran into an application designed for older versions of Android that didn't work on newer versions, it is mainly a developer's issue and they seem to be coping with it well.

It applies. Just because iOS has demonstrated fragmentation (there is still an issue with the sample, but assume it's fair) doesn't instantly mean that Android isn't fragemented either. It means they're both fragemented, and furthermore, what fragementation means is also specific to each platform. There's not as wide a variety of hardware on iOS devices for example.

Not in the sense I was referring to. Because most iPhone fans try and use it as an argument to infer why the iPhone has superiority over Android, and this makes it obvious that does not apply

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From a developer's perspective, the actual OS version isn't where fragmentation is a problem. As a developer, you choose the oldest OS version you want to support and make sure your app works on that, optionally adding stuff that's only available in newer releases.

The fragmentation that's difficult is the amount of different devices are there, with different amounts of memory, CPU, display resolution, etc. That is a pain in the ass, because you have to account for everything in development and testing.

At least with the iPhone/iPod touch, the hardware is updated once a year, and in a way that at least helps developers a little bit. Yes, it's still a pain in the ass, but nowhere near as bad as it is with the Android market. The retina display on iPhone 4 and the new iPod touch is exactly twice the resolution of the older devices, meaning artwork can be pixel doubled and look respectable.

tl;dr: OS version fragmentation is a lot less important than hardware fragmentation on mobile OSes.

Fair enough. But this isn't really Android's fault. Blame the manufacturers that make the half-assed phones. Even if Google were to institute a policy with regards to minimum specs, they could only be applied to "with Google" phones and not any device made with the open source project. I guess one of the biggest advantages of an open source project is also a major disadvantage; anyone can do anything.

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Fair enough. But this isn't really Android's fault. Blame the manufacturers that make the half-assed phones. Even if Google were to institute a policy with regards to minimum specs, they could only be applied to "with Google" phones and not any device made with the open source project. I guess one of the biggest advantages of an open source project is also a major disadvantage; anyone can do anything.

If Google where also more aggressive about licensing their apps like Youtube, the Market ETC to handsets that didn't meet the requirements that would also reduce their appeal to the point that manufacturers would stop producing them. However, the pitfall of completely cutting out the budget sector of the market is that it would actually hit manufacturers hard, as they actually make more money from the budget segment than the premium segment due to the larger volume of purchases.

Besides, with a few modifications (like the removal of the 3D launcher with the older version) newer versions of Android can still be made to run on old devices like the G1 and Magic, most of the problems are caused by manufacturer apathy.

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Article is a bit silly as point releases from Android are different from point releases on iOS. The sub-point releases like 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 should be categorized together as they're bug fix releases that have no bearing on the minimum requirements for apps in the App Store. Hell, all 4.0.1 did was adjust the signal bars.

iOS 3.2 is also an iPad limited release. Something more accurate would be:

3.x.x: 31.82%

3.2 (iPad only): 12.72%

4.x.x: 34.05%

other: 21.42%

Apps definitely look for specific versions. Pretty sure netflix only runs on 3.1.3 or higher, for example.

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Apps definitely look for specific versions. Pretty sure netflix only runs on 3.1.3 or higher, for example.

there is no restrictions for the older ipod touch/iphones to update to 3.1.3.

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Fair enough. But this isn't really Android's fault. Blame the manufacturers that make the half-assed phones. Even if Google were to institute a policy with regards to minimum specs, they could only be applied to "with Google" phones and not any device made with the open source project. I guess one of the biggest advantages of an open source project is also a major disadvantage; anyone can do anything.

well, it's not about blame throwing, it's a fact that the Android platform is far more fragmented than the iOS platform, due to the differences in the hardware platform, not OS versions, since all the OS versions are mostly backwards compatible anyway.

It means when you look at an Android app, a lot of the times you won't be sure if it will run, or run well at acceptable speed, on your particular $300 Android device. But when you look at an iOS app, most of the times you'll clearly know whether it will work well or not on your old iPhone original.

That's not Google's fault, sure, but that's still a fact, and a fact that can have impact on both developers and customers alike. So I guess the "Android platform is too fragmented" argument is still valid.

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The differences between 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 on OS are hilariously small, I think it was one minor bug fix. The same with 4.0 and 4.0.1 which was just the signal bar change. The core feature set and APIs are EXACTLY the same.

To compare it to Android fragmentation you'd need to compare 3.0 and 3.1 versions/4.0 and 4.1, when actual features were added.

Comparing minor version fragmentation to major version fragmentation is retarded :p

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The funny part is my iPod touch from 2008 runs iOS 4.1 without jumping through hoops, while my 2010 HTC Legend still hasn't been updated to Android 2.2. If things stay this way in the Android landscape I'm seriously doubting I'll get an Android-based phone next year.

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See, my iPhone still runs on 3.13. I would update to 4.x just it's so much damn work. When I updated to 3.13 from 3.1 it took me about 10 hours of non dedicated work to get my phone back to how it was.

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Fair enough. But this isn't really Android's fault. Blame the manufacturers that make the half-assed phones. Even if Google were to institute a policy with regards to minimum specs, they could only be applied to "with Google" phones and not any device made with the open source project. I guess one of the biggest advantages of an open source project is also a major disadvantage; anyone can do anything.

You just explained why it is their fault. They are giving too much power away to the hardware manufacturers. The OS should be able to be updated straight from Google and not through the hardware manufacturer. If it breaks something with the custom UI the hardware manufacturer put on the phone then tough ****.

What google should be doing is to be forcing the hardware manufacturers to do their custom UIs using only widgets and a themeing program in Android where they can only graphically change the OS.

You should never be dependent on the hardware manufacturer for an update to the operating system.

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You just explained why it is their fault. They are giving too much power away to the hardware manufacturers. The OS should be able to be updated straight from Google and not through the hardware manufacturer. If it breaks something with the custom UI the hardware manufacturer put on the phone then tough ****.

What google should be doing is to be forcing the hardware manufacturers to do their custom UIs using only widgets and a themeing program in Android where they can only graphically change the OS.

You should never be dependent on the hardware manufacturer for an update to the operating system.

To be honest, trying to strong arm the manufacturers would be of little benefit to Google. Because the commercial success of Android depends a lot on the revenue from the integrated search and advertising, it wouldn't make sense for them to try and force handset makers into designing to spec. As the Android platform is an open platform, the worst Google could do would be to refuse licensing for the closed source Google apps, they can't physically restrict access to the OS because of its open nature.

And to be honest, it seems to be working for them as is, Android is gaining market share at a vast rate, and most consumers don't seem to be bothered by the supposed "issues" because Android is continuing to accelerate in terms of market growth

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One - Android phones are available on almost all carriers, making the overall number much higher, since more people can purchase it.

Two - Verizon in the US constantly runs a buy one get one free special on Android phones, thereby doubling the sales for the phone.

Three - iOS "fragmentation" is based simply on the fact that either the latest version is not available for the hardware (too old) or people haven't upgraded yet. In the second case, it's a customer issue, not an Apple issue. On the Android side, it's a case of either the hardware is too old to support the latest version or the manufacturer hasn't provided an update to the phone (or may never, depending on the phone type). This is a serious issue, since as Google updates the OS, people will tend to fall further and further behind the curve. While this may not be a large issue for mom and pop right now, it can be a problem when the latest version of Angry Birds requires 2.2 and it's not available for their phone.

As for rooting the phone and loading a cooked ROM, good luck getting mom and pop to understand what you are talking about. they just want their phone to work with whatever the latest version of their favorite app is. If that's broken, then you've failed.

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To be honest, trying to strong arm the manufacturers would be of little benefit to Google. Because the commercial success of Android depends a lot on the revenue from the integrated search and advertising, it wouldn't make sense for them to try and force handset makers into designing to spec. As the Android platform is an open platform, the worst Google could do would be to refuse licensing for the closed source Google apps, they can't physically restrict access to the OS because of its open nature.

And to be honest, it seems to be working for them as is, Android is gaining market share at a vast rate, and most consumers don't seem to be bothered by the supposed "issues" because Android is continuing to accelerate in terms of market growth

You can't deny that it wouldn't be a benefit to the end users. End users could still do whatever that they wanted to the OS but you won't have to wait around for months for the manufacturer to get around to updating it. Plus it would give your device a longer life span without having to rely on another party to do their thing with the OS.

Google already restricts access to their google apps for unapproved devices which includes anything that doesn't have a 2G or 3G antenna.

Android IS doing very well but there are things such as this that would make the platform better.

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This is a serious issue, since as Google updates the OS, people will tend to fall further and further behind the curve. While this may not be a large issue for mom and pop right now, it can be a problem when the latest version of Angry Birds requires 2.2 and it's not available for their phone.

Not true at ALL. My Galaxy S still has 2.1 Eclair and Angry Birds beta runs without a single problem.

As for rooting the phone and loading a cooked ROM, good luck getting mom and pop to understand what you are talking about. they just want their phone to work with whatever the latest version of their favorite app is. If that's broken, then you've failed.

Why would they need to know about rooting and custom ROMS? That's for us geeks. It's just like you wouldn't expect them to know what jailbreaking is, something that radically changes the capabilities of an Apple device.

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You can't deny that it wouldn't be a benefit to the end users. End users could still do whatever that they wanted to the OS but you won't have to wait around for months for the manufacturer to get around to updating it. Plus it would give your device a longer life span without having to rely on another party to do their thing with the OS.

Google already restricts access to their google apps for unapproved devices which includes anything that doesn't have a 2G or 3G antenna.

Android IS doing very well but there are things such as this that would make the platform better.

How many smartphones do you know that don't have an antenna capable of that?

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Who really cares? There is going to be fragmentation no matter what, no way around it. New features become available that older phones cannot support. Same thing happens with PC software. I still have the original myTouch and have had it for a year. Yea, I have froyo installed but I notice some problems. Why? Because FROYO was not meant for the myTouch.

Hope the myTouch HD rumors with a dual processor are true....

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How many smartphones do you know that don't have an antenna capable of that?

Not smartphones, tablets. They restrict their first party apps based on whether or not it's specifically a phone or can act as one. So they already restrict the usage of their open source software depending on the hardware. Even though the OS is doing real well, I just do not see any possible benefit to the end user to force them to have to get OS updates from the hardware manufactuer. I don't get Windows updates from Dell, HP, or Asus.

It's my only beef with the OS.

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