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5/25/2010
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Eric Ogren
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Google's Andy Rubin Speaks Of Android's Fragmentation

Andy Rubin, chief architect of Google's Android platform, recently sat down and discussed the future of Android. The biggest topic of the conversation was fragmentation. Rubin's answer on the subject is spot on.

Andy Rubin, chief architect of Google's Android platform, recently sat down and discussed the future of Android. The biggest topic of the conversation was fragmentation. Rubin's answer on the subject is spot on.Gizmodo interviewed Rubin at Google's I/O conference recently, Rubin had a lot to say about Android, some of it fairly revealing.

One of the biggest questions asked by Gizmodo concerned the various versions of Android, fragmentation, and how custom user interfaces (such as HTC's Sense) are updated. Rubin responded:

I mean there are apps written for Vista, just like Photoshop CS5 does not run on Windows 3.1. I mean it's just a fact, there's nothing new here. This is how it has always been and that's why I made the distinction of legacy. We have legacy and if somebody wants to use a feature that's in the new OS, they really can't run that app on an older OS. So it's just things are happening so quickly that it becomes really obvious that we went from 2.0 to 2.2 in a very short time frame. I think that will slow down a little bit. I'm actually advocating coming out with releases around the buying seasons, May and September, October.
I think that's a pretty fair answer. It's not what people want to hear, but we have to remember that there's an entire ecosystem involved. Apple and AT&T have probably spoiled people with the universal system updates for the iPhone, though that is changing with iPhone OS 4.0 (which won't be offered to the original iPhone). There are some 60 Android devices out there. Given the breadth of that offering, it isn't realistic to expect that all the device can update to the newest system software at the same time.

Rubin says, "If I was like a dictator I would enforce this stuff and everyone would have to have the same version at the same time and there would be a big switch with great fanfare, but it's just not in the cards. So we'll do a great version, and if they decide to adopt it, they'll adopt it." He notes that if every Android handset runs the exact same operating system and user interface, the entire experience would become commoditized, and that's not what Android is about. Android is about having choice.

We also have to look at Google's competitors. Research In Motion doesn't automatically offer new firmware updates for its devices across carrier profiles. The BlackBerry 83xx is updated individually by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon when each carrier is ready, not all at once as with the iPhone. Same goes for Microsoft and its Windows Mobile software.

Long story short, fragmentation is going to happen, and that's that. Google wishes it weren't so, but it is something that Android owners are going to have to get used to and deal with just the same as they do with their other electronic devices.

[Via Gizmodo]

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