Monday

What Is Android Fragmentation?

Ooh, sounds painful doesn't it? Fortunately, it's not a medical issue, but rather a bit of a weird situation regarding mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) using versions of Google's Android operating system. Versions - therein lies the problem: Android already has several versions floating around, all with cute names like Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich. Hardware manufacturers may also "tweak" the version they use to work better with their hardware or to offer specific features.


Think of a home with several Windows computers; one may be Windows XP, one may be Vista and one Windows 7. When Microsoft issues Windows updates, all the applicable updates are available at the same time, so everyone can get critical updates in a timely manner. This is similar to the update process Apple provides for its different versions of iOS (the operating system for iPhones and iPads) - everyone gets the current updates around the same time.


However, because of the proprietary nature of the changes made to Android installations by the various manufacturers, the upgrade process is fragmented - it's not a smooth, timely process at all. The hardware manufacturers then become responsible for getting upgrades from Google and providing them to their customers (hopefully after they have vetted them to make sure they work with their tweaks).


With the rise of malware on mobile  devices, and the increased use of the devices for financial transactions, this becomes a factor because some security updates can be vitally important. Google issues updates for Android, and generally speaking the more removed a particular Android version is from the Google sources, the less are the chances of keeping up with the latest and greatest.


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