The end of Android fragmentation? Gmail now available in Market

New Gmail for Android

The longest running complaint about Google's Android OS is fragmentation. With an accelerated development roadmap, carriers are finding it harder and harder to keep up with offering the latest version of Android on their devices. Usually, smartphone users have to wait a few months after Google releases the latest version of Android before their phone's manufacturer can get the update ready for their devices.

It has been long discussed that with Froyo (2.2) and the upcoming Gingerbread (3.0), fragmentation issues would begin to dwindle. Google planned to accomplish this by un-tieing Google apps from OS updates and instead, offering these apps directly on the market. Now, according to the Google Mobile Blog, Google's new strategy has begun.

Available in the Market for all Android devices running 2.2, is the new Gmail app. No longer will users have to wait for a full OS update to take advantage of the new features that Google wants to add to their own apps. With these apps readily available in the Market, Google can now update them on a much more frequent basis, independently of system updates. No doubt users will be happy with this change.

The new version of Gmail that was just released adds a few new features for Android users to take advantage of. Here's what you'll notice:

  • Improved message replies
  • Access to quoted text
  • Limited support for Priority Inbox ("Important" label)

To give the new Gmail for Android a go, scan the QR code below with the barcode scanning app of your choice.

Gmail for Android - QR Code

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Google Docs gets web fonts, Google Font API

Next Story

Activision joins fight against violent game law

70 Comments

View more comments

neufuse said,
why can't we just have a firmware update like Apple? I mean comon, stop letting the carriers tell you what to do

I don't Google has all the resources to issue all the updates itself, Apple can manage it because it only has a few variations of a similar phone. Just look at BlackBerry OS, phones being sold today like the 8520 and still coming with OS4, this fragmentation is not exclusive to Android.

neufuse said,
why can't we just have a firmware update like Apple? I mean comon, stop letting the carriers tell you what to do

If people stopped buying those bastarded phones then Google would be responsible for all the updates (or the manufacturer directly at least)! I'm glad i got a Nexus, can't stand those stupid carriers! I might buy a Desire HD or something down the line as long as i can get some CyanogenMod on it!

thealexweb said,

I don't Google has all the resources to issue all the updates itself, Apple can manage it because it only has a few variations of a similar phone. Just look at BlackBerry OS, phones being sold today like the 8520 and still coming with OS4, this fragmentation is not exclusive to Android.

Microsoft's doing updates the Apple way - Google could if they wanted.

neufuse said,
why can't we just have a firmware update like Apple? I mean comon, stop letting the carriers tell you what to do

If it is a firmware upgrade, manufacturers would have an even harder time differentiating their products. Lord knows we don't need even less variety when it comes to this market.

andrew_f said,

Microsoft's doing updates the Apple way - Google could if they wanted.

Microsoft is doing it on a much smaller scale for the foreseeable future, Android is mainstream.

rick_to said,

If it is a firmware upgrade, manufacturers would have an even harder time differentiating their products. Lord knows we don't need even less variety when it comes to this market.

It's already been established that carriers can have their own specialized branches of the Market. Why not vendors? Let each phone run standardized code, with access to a vendor-specific library of free software and widgets.

This is so duh and obvious that my brain actually had to get dumber to come up with it.

thealexweb said,

Microsoft is doing it on a much smaller scale for the foreseeable future, Android is mainstream.

Right, keep saying that to yourself... Microsoft does pretty gosh darn well with updating Windows which is run on hundreds of thousands of different hardware configurations, I don't think it will be much different than a phone.

Google...it is very simple...just give the Google apps only to carriers who agree to support the device for 2 years or more.
Fragmentation is the most important reason why i will go to WP7...

bluefisch200 said,
Google...it is very simple...just give the Google apps only to carriers who agree to support the device for 2 years or more.
Fragmentation is the most important reason why i will go to WP7...

WP7 will have the same issue: people expect an OS in their computer to be stable and functional, and then concern themselves with how much flash they want to add.

In the mobile OS market, same expectation of stable and functional, but people buy new phones for the new flashy features - the manufacturers will demand WP7 update itself quickly so that they can sell the next "new" phone. Yeah they will try to develop themselves on the WP7 platform but they will rely on MSFT to update the core functionality.

rick_to said,

WP7 will have the same issue: people expect an OS in their computer to be stable and functional, and then concern themselves with how much flash they want to add.

In the mobile OS market, same expectation of stable and functional, but people buy new phones for the new flashy features - the manufacturers will demand WP7 update itself quickly so that they can sell the next "new" phone. Yeah they will try to develop themselves on the WP7 platform but they will rely on MSFT to update the core functionality.


WP7 will stay functional, you don't have any idea what you're talking about.

day2die said,
It doesn't matter what OEMs do because the updates are directly from Microsoft.
Indeed, as Microsoft, surprisingly, saw the issues occurring with Android... If you let the manufacturer release updates if they want, and when they want, you get upset people.

Owen Williams said,
I don't know how this is the "end of fragmentation" - in fact.... It's nowhere close to it at all.
It's part of the process by which Google plans to limit the effects of fragmentation. If you can continue updating your core apps past the time that your carrier will give you OS updates, then I'd say that's pretty good.

Benjamin Rubenstein said,
It's part of the process by which Google plans to limit the effects of fragmentation. If you can continue updating your core apps past the time that your carrier will give you OS updates, then I'd say that's pretty good.
However, it falls flat on it's face when carriers/OEMs can't be bothered updated the OS though. If your running 2.2 already then this is rather handy, anyone (like myself and many others) still stuck on 2.1 still have to wait for the 2.2 update before we can take advantage of that. Ironically it's the fragmentation that it's trying to end that is causing it to fail.

Benjamin Rubenstein said,
It's part of the process by which Google plans to limit the effects of fragmentation. If you can continue updating your core apps past the time that your carrier will give you OS updates, then I'd say that's pretty good.

I hear what you're saying, and its progress but nowhere near enough. This doesn't change that the carriers are screwing everyone. Google needs to start pushing the updates themselves before Android becomes the next Windows Mobile. Google needs to restrict third party UI's from stopping updates (perhaps just pushing them first) and stop OEM's from hindering the process.

In reality, just because Google did this, doesn't mean that my HTC Legend (A 2010 device, I'll add) will get the official Froyo drop.

thommcg said,
Motoblur & Sense I mean.

I don't know, I find Sense to be excellent and I consistently find myself returning to it each time I try to go CM6 only.

Fragmentation will not end until providers and manufacturers all distribute the same version. It's a pain for developers to make their apps compatible with the different versions of the OS and the different skins these providers have. Separating things like the Gmail from the core system doesn't end fragmentation.

Klethron said,
Fragmentation will not end until providers and manufacturers all distribute the same version. It's a pain for developers to make their apps compatible with the different versions of the OS and the different skins these providers have. Separating things like the Gmail from the core system doesn't end fragmentation.

And this is where WP7 steps in

Wake me up when they put the Launcher on the market.

This is no different than being able to update Outlook Express to Live Mail and IE6 to IE8 in Windows XP. It doesn't matter how many components you let us update, it doesn't change the fact that we're staring at the same old desktop every time we turn on our phone. Hardware capabilities aside, if they don't start grasping the importance of updating the functionality of the home screen, if they fall into this "it's the apps, stupid!" mentality, then there really WILL be nothing to differentiate the phones, and there really WON'T be anything vendors can do to make themselves stand out, because the entire OS will ultimately just steer the user to the Market.

The default Launcher has barely evolved since Cupcake, and the status bar hasn't added any new functionality whatsoever. Are there any enthusiasts out there who DON'T almost immediately install LauncherPro or ADW?

Quick Reply said,
Not for 1.6? Let me see... yep, still fragmented.

They argue that 1.6 is being used less and less, well no, it's not that it is being used less (it's still being used the same), it's that they are selling more new phones (with 2.x) than they did with 1.6.

Those who bought their phones at 1.6, are still at 1.6, and we haven't gone anywhere (and I don't think that many would have upgraded to a new phone already).

It's a combination of Google's fault (Not setting up the infrastructure for component upgrades to begin with) and the OEM's fault (Not providing source for their Drivers or Apps eg: HTC Sense)


True, and it sucks, but at this point most 1.6 hardware isn't worth it anymore.

Commenting is disabled on this article.