Android fragmentation has practically ceased to be a problem?

    Hello, Habr! Today we want to bring to your attention a translation of an article in which Eddie Vessallo (CEO Entropy ) expresses an interesting point of view on Android fragmentation. It is no secret that among the devices running under this OS there is not even a hint of any unification of display resolutions. All kinds of smartphones and tablets from dozens, if not hundreds, of manufacturers differ in an incredible variety of display resolutions. This has long led to the fact that the development of applications for Android is associated with a very large effort to optimize the interface for all kinds of permissions. However, the author of the original article believes that now this has practically ceased to be a problem.

    To be honest: as application developers, we have always cherished and cherished the beauty and sophistication of iOS. But something strange has happened over the past few months. Many of our employees began to use Android devices as their main ones, shocking colleagues and relatives. But even more remarkable is the fact that our projects began to gravitate more and more towards Android - from native applications for our best customers to prototypes and demo code for Android Wear and Google Glass.

    What's going on here? Wasn’t Android one big headache for developers like us (as well as for our customers)?

    Over the past few years, the main arguments against Android development have been:

    • Strong fragmentation of the used OS versions, which forced the use of old releases of SDK, API and other tools in order to ensure maximum compatibility.
    • Hundreds of all kinds of display resolutions, hardware features and screen gestures, turning the design and testing process into hell.
    • A very small percentage of Android users who could use a particular application on a particular device, which greatly reduced the target audience.

    But now the situation has changed. Android is still a challenge for the developer, but we have to admit (and note that these are the words of recognized iOS fans) - in 2014, Android fragmentation became a myth.

    Since 2010, Google has made great efforts to solve this problem facing developers. And they managed to do it in quite impressive and “backstage” ways.

    A large proportion of Android users still use older versions of the OS. And Google does not hide this at all . Here are the data as of July 7, 2014:

    At first glance, nothing good. Especially when compared with Apple, which has over 90% of users using the latest version of the operating system (iOS 7).

    Google's Secret Weapon Against Fragmentation

    But this is not the statistics that developers should look for. It's time to talk about Google Play Services. For developers, this is much more important than the OS versions used. The Google Play services, introduced in 2012, are an effective way to download the basic services needed to run Android applications. If for a moment we get distracted by the variety of OS versions, the situation appears in a different light - over 93% of Android users use the latest version of Google Play Services.

    It is also important that Google slowly displays the main Android functions, APIs and application elements from the operating system to the Google Play Services. This gives developers the confidence that their applications will work correctly (including various new features) on all devices using the latest version of the Services.

    And most importantly, the fifth version of the Services now applies to all devices using Android from 2.3 Gingerbread to 4.4 KitKat. This completely deprives the argument that developers are forced to bind to the functionality of older versions of the OS in order to ensure compatibility of the main features of their applications.

    But what about the zoo of display permissions, which makes designers and testers go to bed with bones? On this subject, the developer Russell Ivanovic (Russell Ivanovic) published a wonderful post in which he debunked the point of view about the display "hell" of designers. According to Russell, everything is far from being as bad as many developers think. It is believed that the number of permissions used that require optimization and testing looks something like this:

    Source: Courtesy of OpenSignal's Android Fragmentation 2013 report .

    However, Ivanovich does not agree with this and claims that the current set of permissions looks something like this:

    Designers do not need to rearrange the interface for every possible combination of parties. Instead, it’s enough to work out in high resolution several of the above options that can be easily applied to displays of almost any size.

    Returning to the main smartphones in our pockets: as developers, we were extremely interested in the changes that have occurred in the Android camp over the past year. From now on, you can forget about the horror-fragmentation, which was the main obstacle for developers.

    For our part, we would like to note that the aspect ratio of both YotaPhone displays corresponds to the selected option:

    The same is true for the second generation of our smartphone. So, based on the foregoing, the creation of the interface and its testing will not require additional efforts from application developers for YotaPhone and YotaPhone 2.

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