Exclusive: Android Froyo to take a serious shot at stemming platform fragmentation
We had a couple people at CTIA last week — people whose words carry weight — tell us off the record that the next major version of Android would take big strides toward stopping the ugly trend toward severe fragmentation that has plagued the platform for much of this and last year. You know, the kind of fragmentation that has already left users running not one, not two, not three, but four distinct versions of the little green guy (1.5, 1.6, 2.0, and 2.1) depending on a seemingly arbitrary formula of hardware, carrier, region, software customization, and manufacturers’ ability to push updates in a timely fashion. Put simply, Google’s been iterating the core far faster than most of its partners have been able to keep up.
Thing is, in light of our CTIA conversations, we didn’t have an idea of how Google planned on fixing this — until now. We’ve been given reason to believe that the company will start by decoupling many of Android’s standard applications and components from the platform’s core and making them downloadable and updatable through the Market, much the same as they’ve already done with Maps. In all likelihood, this process will take place over two major Android versions, starting with Froyo and continuing through Gingerbread. Notice that we said apps and components, meaning that some core elements of Android — input methods, for instance — should get this treatment. This way, just because Google rolls out an awesome new browser doesn’t mean you need to wait for HTC, Samsung, or whomever made your phone to roll it into a firmware update, and for your carrier to approve it — almost all of the juicy user-facing stuff will happen through the Market.
The second part of this doubled-edged attack on platform fragmentation comes from a simple reality: we’re hearing that Google may be nearing the end of its breakneck development pace on Android’s core and shifting attention to apps and features. By the time we get to Froyo, the underlying platform — and the API that devs need to target — will be reaching legitimate maturity for the first time, which means we should have far fewer tasty treat-themed code names to worry about over the course of an average year. We like awesome new software as much as the next guy, but Google’s been moving so fast lately that they’ve created a near constant culture of obsolescence anxiety among the hardcore user base — and in turn, that leads to paralysis at the sales counter.
How much of this strategy actually materializes — and how effective it is at changing the direction of the platform at large — remains to be seen, but it sounds like a promising turn of events. Considering it’s been a solid five months since the Eclair SDK premiered, that’s an eternity in Google years; time to shake things up a bit, we reckon.
Ovvio che ci stessero pensando, ma finalmente se ne ha la certezza; eppure suona ancora tanto di workaround.
Microsoft on copy and paste in Windows Phone 7 Series: ‘people don’t do that’
Microsoft certainly set off a firestorm of controversy yesterday with the revelation that Windows Phone 7 Series won’t have copy and paste, since it doesn’t necessarily line up with what the company has said in private before — and the issue seems to have gotten even more clouded as people have started hacking around the emulator. So let’s set the record straight on what we were told, since it wasn’t ambiguous in any way: Microsoft says leaving clipboard operations out was a conscious design decision based on user research showing that people don’t actually use copy and paste very often, and that instead 7 Series features a systemwide data detection service which recognizes things like phone numbers and addresses so you can take action on them. Third-party apps can hook into this service, so that an email address can be routed to the email client of your choice, but there’s no copy and paste functionality. We specifically asked about Office and OneNote, and we were told that Microsoft’s research shows that people mostly want to view and comment on documents, not move things around. We also specifically asked if copy and paste was coming later and were told no, although we’d guess that it’s at least being worked on for a future version. Don’t take it from us, though — listen to Microsoft’s Todd Brix for yourself:
Il segno dei tempi (o effetto Apple iPhone 1.0?): il Copy and Paste, una delle funzionalità core dei sistemi operativi Mobile di Microsoft sparirà (immagino temporaneamente) nella prossima versione Windows Mobile 7.
LG is today proudly boasting that it has sealed the biggest sale of 3D television sets so far, thanks to its partnership with UK broadcaster BSkyB. Following a surprisingly successful trial run of broadcasting the Arsenal versus Man United match in 3D this January, Sky clearly sees its future through polarizing glasses and has ordered up the big batch of tubes so that it can provide weekly 3D broadcasts of Premier League games. The plan is for a rapid rollout this spring — which is right about now — meaning that your local pub should be getting all glitzed up just in time for the end of season excitement. It remains to be seen whether Brits will swarm to the new tech or lose interest once the novelty wears off, but judging from the size of this investment, it would seem the bigwigs in charge of our entertainment are already convinced that 3D will be a win.
“Judging from the size of this investment, it would seem the bigwigs in charge of our entertainment are already convinced that 3D will be a win.”
UPDATE: LG ha smentito la news in una successiva press conference. Il nuovo accordo stabilisce, in realtà, che SKY UK venderà 3DTV ai pubs mediante terze parti.
Per convincere sei miliardi di persone a cambiare, ci vuole seduzione,
non sacrificio. […] Dobbiamo andare oltre il “No!” e definire che
aspetto avrà il “Sì”, non continuare semplicemente a sperare che in
un giorno ci sveglieremo per qualche ragione in un mondo di persone
altruiste che rifiutano l’automobile. “No” non è la risposta. “Sì” lo
è molto di più.
Michael Gartenberg tenta (tenta) di rispondere ad una domanda che sarebbe stato opportuno porsi due anni fa.
My friend and colleague Harry McCracken recently bought a brand new Droid from Motorola. He says it’s a “loaf of day old bread.” He’s right. The Droid and Android 2.0 were introduced with much fanfare in December, but have already been eclipsed by Android 2.1 running on Google’s Nexus One, and there are some serious ramifications for being behind. For example, Google recently touted the latest mobile version of Google Earth, which is a cool app that you won’t be able to use unless you’re running 2.1. Sure, Google says “Google Earth will be available in Android Market on most devices that have Android 2.1 or later versions,” but that’s most, not every. And what does Google mean when it says “as devices like the Droid get updated…” to 2.1? When will they get updated? Is it any wonder that some Android users are starting to get pangs of buyers remorse?
When Android was announced, I wrote that if “Google can deliver, the impact could be huge,” but I caveated a major issue: Google would need to prevent the market from fragmenting and allow it to succeed where other mobile and desktop Linux implementations had failed. Linux fragmentation remains one of the many reasons the open-source OS has failed to capture a meaningful share of the PC desktop market, and Android is rapidly following a similar path by fragmenting into different versions with different core feature sets, different users experiences and run different applications.
It’s not even clear what’s part of the official Android distribution and what’s been layered on by manufacturers to differentiate their phones. For example, the Droid runs a mostly stock version of Android 2.0 and partially supports Exchange Active Sync, a critical feature for business users. The Nexus One runs a stock version of Android 2.1, and has far more limited Exchange support with no ability to sync calendars. Other vendors like HTC have taken great pains to customize their devices with an added layer of interface customizations like Sense to both differentiate and simplify their devices, as well as implement missing features — like full Exchange support. The problem is users of devices running Sense (or Motorola’s Blur) find themselves stuck on older Android releases such as 1.5 or 1.6, which lack newer core features like Google Maps Navigation.
I know that last weekend at least one Android enthusiast site reported that Google has promised to get 2.1 on every Android device. Well, that’s all well and good and smiles and rainbows, but an unverified blog post from some Android enthusiasts isn’t exactly canon to me. Are there hardware issues that will prevent 2.1 running on older devices? Screen resolutions? I recently tried to install one of the few good Android games and found it won’t work on Nexus One as it has a nonstandard screen resolution. This isn’t just about older devices either — many new devices were announced at Mobile World Congress running either Android 1.5 or 1.6. When does it end? Either Google addresses the fragmentation issue immediately or it will find that Android suffers the same fate as Linux on the desktop.