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What Is Android Fragmentation?

By Expert Author: Kelly Burby

Fragmentation, the word itself speaks everything. Fragmentation is breaking down a thing into several pieces. As per programming and computing aspects, fragmentation is the state of using software and hardware with its several variations where they fail to provide consistent experience to users.

Fragmentation in terms of Android

Fragmentation, in terms of Android OS, is all about using a variety of makes of hardware and then tweaking the OS to suit their environments that further result in inability of supporting or running certain apps or features in the devices.

The foremost example to state this is that Android has already been upgraded to its latest version 4.2 (Jelly Bean), but users still prefer going with the previous versions or say basically opting for Ginger Bread. The typical reason behind this would simply rely to Fragmentation in Android. The primary cause is that hardware manufacturers of such devices are incapable of upgrading their device specifications to accept the new version for a number of reasons, resulting in failure of applications to run successfully and consistently on all devices.

Though the war between hardware manufacturers and software developers stays alive by blaming each other for the compatibility issues. Google itself blames the developers, for not staying with the guidelines of designing any application. To resolve the fragmentation issue to some extent, Google has decided to add some prohibition terms to its SDK i.e. Software Development Kit, which software developers would have to accept before developing things for Android OS.

Android is being used in hundreds of different types of devices like, smart phones and tablets. Other than developers, having a hard time in developing applications that may work consistently on all device types, Google also faces issues in bringing bulks of users onto the same version of the platform. Hence, all users get scattered over several types of devices, resulting in much of fragmentation.

The problem arises when developers have to decide about the compatibility versions over the platform that the application must be supporting. Unlike those for iPhones, Android developers can't just simply make a single version of their app to be installed over any specific model, rather they require extra time for making sure that the developed app works consistently on numerous versions of the platform that have a huge amount of users on current ground.

The main cause behind Android being fragmented is that the OS is open-source and can be used without obtaining a license. This simplicity of the OS makes it easy for manufacturers to tweak and turn it according to the hardware environment of their devices. Hence, not going with the universal standards, hardware manufacturers customize their devices on their own specifications. Which results as a difficulty for application developers to develop a universal Android application.

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