Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich to end fragmentation

Image credit: kohlerpix Overnight Google’s developer conference, Google I/O kicked off for 2011 with a couple important announcements. Google’s mobile OS, Android has often been criticised by both users...

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Image credit: kohlerpix

Overnight Google’s developer conference, Google I/O kicked off for 2011 with a couple important announcements. Google’s mobile OS, Android has often been criticised by both users and developers for its fragmentation. Well Google have finally acknowledged what a mess this really is.

Android has done amazingly well at saturating the market. There are now:

  • 100 million activated Android devices
  • 400,000 new Android devices activated every day
  • 200,000 free and paid applications available in Android Market
  • 4.5 billion applications installed from Android Market

The problem is there’s more than 310 Android devices with different shapes, sizes, screen resolutions, and capabilities. This means as an Android app developer, you don’t get access the entire Android user base, but rather the amount of users that are running the version of Android that you happened to write for. A much smaller number.

Google’s plan for Ice Cream Sandwich is to “deliver one operating system that works everywhere, regardless of device. Ice Cream Sandwich will bring everything you love about Honeycomb on your tablet to your phone, including the holographic user interface, more multitasking, the new launcher and richer widgets.”

A very ambitious goal, one that seems could only really be achieved by moving to a vector-based UI and some smart code that would adapt to any resolution screen and show features only available on that particular handset. It seems Google are now realising what Microsoft had the foresight to recognise with WP7, that a benchmark of required specs is beneficial to everyone involved.

Today we’re announcing that a founding team of industry leaders, including many from the Open Handset Alliance, are working together to adopt guidelines for how quickly devices are updated after a new platform release, and also for how long they will continue to be updated. The founding partners are Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Sprint, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Motorola and AT&T, and we welcome others to join us. To start, we’re jointly announcing that new devices from participating partners will receive the latest Android platform upgrades for 18 months after the device is first released, as long as the hardware allows…and that’s just the beginning. Stay tuned for more details.

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The other big announcement was Music Beta by Google. I think Google got a little carried away with the naming, it should just be called Google Music. Once again its another US-only service. This obviously relates to licencing, rights and laws, but as someone who is still waiting for Hulu, its unlikely we will see this in Australia any time soon.

In a fireside chat at Google I/O, a developer asked if they would get access to the cloud music API’s, fearing that any 3rd party music apps may be left out in the cold. Google was unable to answer the question.

For more info about Google I/O, head over to Google Events.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.