Patrick Joyce

March 2, 2013

The Slow Android Upgrade Curve is a Real Problem

Tim Bray wrote a post on Tuesday agruing that Google Play Services means that the slow upgrade curve for Android "matters less and less for developers". He concludes:

Yeah, if what you care about is new smoother glass and slicker chips and faster broadband, you’re still on the dessert schedule. But if what matters is what apps can do, you can pretty well ignore that Versions dashboard.

I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to have worked on Android and see 45% of people stuck using a version that is more than 2 years old (particularly when more than 80% of iOS users are on the 5 month old iOS 6.) But to argue with a straight face that dealing with out of date Android versions isn't a real problem for people who care about "what apps can do" is complete and utter bullshit.

The differences between 2.3 and 4.0 with regards to HTML and CSS support are very real. The performance differences for HTML rendering are very real (as Google brags about when talking about ICS)

I recently overheard a developer say "Android 2.3 is the new IE6" after fighting with a bug that only manifested in 2.3. Let's put it this way: If you're being compared to IE6 something has gone horribly wrong. Google Play Services seem to be a clever way to get around carriers and handset manufacturers refusing to issue updates. But if people in the Android world can't see that it is a major problem for the most common version of Android to be over two years and two major releases out of date then the problem will never get solved.

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