Google promises end to Android fragmentation

Posted by Mike Luttrell

The next software update to Android will quash concerns about the fragmentation that exists rampantly in the current market.

At least, that's what Google chairman Eric Schmidt hopes. Schmidt assured that the next firmware update, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, will streamline hardware and app specs in a more unified fashion.

Currently, about 51% of Android users are running version 2.2, while around 31% are using the most recent version, 2.3. That leaves a good chunk of users who are still stuck at version 2.1 or earlier.

Add to that the fact that handset manufacturers have all sorts of different specifications, from varying processors and memory to the placement of cameras and buttons.

The end result leads to a bunch of frustrated app developers and consumers. An app that might work on one Android phone will not work on another.

Schmidt says this will stop with Ice Cream Sandwich, as manufacturers who want the latest software will need to adhere to much stricter guidelines on hardware.

This is a promise we've heard from Google before. The company said Android "Honeycomb," the tablet-optimized version of the mobile OS, would have strict manufacturing restrictions so all Honeycomb tablets would be the same, but there are already problems with apps only working on specific tablets, and differing versions of the Honeycomb interface.

So we'll see how it works out with Ice Cream Sandwich. Fragmentation is clearly the biggest problem with Android and Google needs a solution, stat.