Android app development

Android Fragmentation. What do the Android App Developers need to know?

In addition to having more than 1.6 million apps, Google’s Play Store also saw 100% more downloads than Apple’s App Store in 2015. The statistics posted on various website clearly indicate that developers are launching new and innovative Android apps at frequent intervals. The open source nature of Android makes it easier for mobile hardware manufacturers to customize the mobile operating system according to their specific requirements.

But the openness makes it difficult for developers to build apps and games by targeting many custom versions of Android. Often developers find it challenging to create apps compatible with a number of custom versions of the mobile platform. Also, it becomes essential for developers to understand Android fragmentation clearly to make their apps successful in the longer run.

7 Important Facts about Android Fragmentation

1) Bigger and Better Devices
A number of recent surveys have highlighted that new Android devices are coming with bigger screen sizes and more RAM. So the new devices deliver completely different user experience in comparison to older devices. While developing Android apps, the developers must target a wide variety of devices powered by the same mobile operating system but sporting different screen sizes and processing capabilities.

2) Different Versions of Android Stock
Google has already started rolling out Android 6 Marshmallow since December 2015. But according to the statistics posted on various websites, a large percentage of users still use devices powered by older versions of the mobile platform. Unlike Apple, Google does not allow users to switch to the most recent version of Android without changing their mobile devices. So the developers have to target multiple versions of Android while creating new mobile apps.

3) Changes Made to System UI
There are several companies who customize the system UI provided by Android according to their specific changes. For instance, Samsung has launched Touchwiz with a custom system UI. Likewise, HTC Sense also comes with a customized version of the system UI. While modifying the system UI, these companies completely change the look and feel of certain key elements. While developing new apps, the developers need to keep in mind the changed made to the system UI and other key elements.

4) Software or Hardware Inconsistency Issues
While developing a new mobile app, developers always rely on the new features provided by the most recent version of Android. But the new features are not supported by older versions of the mobile operating system. Likewise, the manufacturers must use the right hardware to support the new features effectively. So the Android app developers have to identify a number of consistencies related to software and hardware to optimize the application’s accessibility and compatibility.

5) Varying Security Issues
Most companies nowadays allow employees to bring and use their own devices. So the employees of the same company can use a variety of devices powered by different versions of Android. The BYOD policy makes it difficult for programmers to create enterprise apps compatible with different versions of the mobile platform. Also, they have to focus extensively on device security and app management features of the app to keep the business data exchange secure.

6) Maximizing Test Coverage
Most developers even find it daunting to enhance test coverage for Android apps. They have to assess the application’s look, feel, functionality, performance, and user experience across multiple versions of Android, and a variety of devices powered by it. To maximize test coverage, the testers must test the app with commonly used older versions of Android, and combine the older versions gradually with the newer versions.

7) Solutions from Google
Google does not have any control over the hardware fragmentation of its mobile operating system. But the company has taken several initiatives to reduce the software fragmentation. For instance, it has designed Google Play Services as a system-level service exercise full control over operating system updates. The feature enables developers to create apps that take advantage of the latest Google APIs and security updated despite running on an older version of Android. It further reduces the memory footprint of newer versions of Android to make it run on older hardware.

However, Google has been taking new initiatives regularly to minimize the impact of Android fragmentation. The company provides Google Play Services APIs and Material Design libraries that help developers to maintain consistency. At the same time, the developers can also perform elaborate testing to ensure that the mobile app is compatible will many custom version of Android platform.

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One response to “Android Fragmentation. What do the Android App Developers need to know?”

  1. Thanks for great article!
    Can you describe some ways or technologies for Android automatic test (in the cloud) or real device). What way is the best?

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