Google tries to control Android fragmentation

Posted by Charbax – March 31, 2011

There has been some talk about Google's decision to delay the Honeycomb source code release. If Google releases Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Google TV and Chrome OS source codes within a month, then all this will be forgotten. Sure sure, M$/NOK will make Bingdroid, HP will make Webdroid, and RIM is making Playdroid.

It is OK if Google enforces rules on Google Marketplace and the Google Apps to demand a one-click search engine or social network change, meaning the Bingdroids cannot lock users into only using Bing but that it must be a one click easy process to change the search engine to Google as default if that is what the user wants. Same thing with the Facedroids, one click should be available to move contacts out of Facebook.

It is great if Google's purpose starting with Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwidth is to try to regulate the home replacements and manufacturer's custom UI layers. Please make it default to allow the Android bloatware user interfaces to be turned off! I don't mind if manufacturers think they absolutely have to make Touchwiz, Sense, Blur, Rachael or other, but they should all make it an easy to find one click process to restore default UI, they should all provide a one-click Android Vanilla switch.

The main requirement that I think Google has with Android, is that they have to make sure that everyone making Android devices with full native Android Vanilla UI and OS, must be allowed the Google Marketplace, especially the cheap Tablet and Smartphone makers, no absolute need for compass, dual-cameras or any other very specific hardware features, apps in Google Marketplace with very specific hardware requirements (a small minority) can easily be filtered based on the hardware detected.

Google must have teams working closely with all the ARM chip providers, Texas Instruments, Rockchip, Telechips, Samsung, Qualcomm, Marvell, Freescale, ST-Ericsson, VIA, Nvidia and more, and Google has a responsibility to make sure each of those platforms support the full Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Google TV and Chrome OS, as soon as they totally open source them in a month or so. That is what I expect Google is doing with their ARM chip provider partners. And that work on deep SoC optimizations level must also be coordinated with each of the serious companies using each of those SoC to bring Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Google TV and Chrome OS products to market in the next couple or three months.

If for some reason you hear that Google is not willing to give access to Honeycomb source code to any serious Tablet maker (with a reputation of releasing tablets that can be trusted, no minimum company size) or to any of these chip makers, that could be scandalous and would have to be brought to the attention of the blogosphere, so in case you hear about any of those cases please post in the comments or send me an email to charbax@gmail.com so that I can try to understand who gets access to the Honeycomb source code, when and exactly how.

Some people (especially Apple fanboys) have been complaining that Honeycomb tablets supposedly only have 100 apps HD tablet optimized yet. Those people should also mention that about 90% of the 250'000 Android apps are built with Android 1.6 Donut SDK or newer, and since then, most Android apps are built to scale to medium density screens, which means they work fine on tablets. That actually means, the number of apps that work fine on Android tablets is more something like 220'000 apps, more and more of which are being re-optimized for more than 800x480, yet still most of those scale to 1024x600 or 1280x800 just fine.

Also, I believe the goal of Google is to implement future versions of Android, perhaps including Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich already with a new system that auto-upgrades even the core parts of the OS, meaning that once devices are ready to ship with Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich, they may never really need to be firmware updated by the manufacturer, that core Android system upgrades could be done automatically and securely through the Google Marketplace. That would be a very deep anti-fragmentation move, and that would mean that all future Android devices would all be automatically future-proof.