DAMN IT ANDROID, DAMN YOU!!! The reason I picked Google’s Android devices over Apple’s iPhone / iPad / iPod was due to the flexibilty of the system, though it’s becoming more and more annoying now that more Android devices and operating systems are released. Sure Apple has multiple versions’s of it’s OS, but they don’t change the underlying structure of the device, whereas the Android OS market is not only fragmented, but you are also limited by the OS that your device has. So, while you have the original Motorola Droid, you can officially (Not using 3rd party roms / kernels) support Android 2.0 (Eclair) and Android 2.2 (Froyo). Now on the other hand, not only can the Motorola Droid 2 support those releases but it also supports Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). But that’s the entire issue as new devices become available with better hardware specs, it’s only natural that it would support a new OS.
But it’s not always a hardware issue, but more of “We don’t want to support this device with this new shiny OS”. Now, before you call BS on that, just hear me out. I have ran every version of the Android OS on my Motorola Droid 1 ( Including Gingerbread) with no issues, thanks to custom roms from Cyanogenmod, BlackDroid (TheUltimatedroid) and ShadowRom. Sure there are tons more out there, but the ones I mentioned are my bread and butter. These roms have ran with little to no issues on my trusty Droid 1, even better than the original OS I have to say, but you get the idea. Add to the fact that you have Android devices from HTC, LG, Motorola, Acer, Dell, Huawei, Samsung, and Sony and you’ll immediately see my frustration. Of those vendors, they can have anywhere from 1 to 6 Android enabled devices, each running different versions of the Android OS. So, you pretty much have Android OS’s that may or may not allow you to run certain applications or applications that won’t run due to not using it with the proper Android OS.
However, I haven’t gotten to what is starting to upset me. Sure, I’ve talked about the Android devices, but they’re just smartphones. Now, enter the Android Tablet scene! Things have been starting to get interesting since makers of Android Smartphones have been going after Apple’s iPad, and while competition is healthy for the market, things have gotten just a tab bit out of hand. We now have tablets with low or high end specs, and even some that are just middle ground. For example, you have Motorola’s Xoom that perhaps isn’t the super tablet that it was touted to be – however, it’s hardware specs are impressive:
- 1 GHz dual-core processor
- Integrated NVIDIA graphics
- 1 GB of DDR2 RAM
- 5-megapixel rear-facing camera
- 2-megapixel front-facing web cam
- HD 720p video capture capabilities
- 16/32 GB internal memory
- Memory expansion via microSD card slot
However, it’s limitations are due to how Motorola handled the Android OS and it has left plenty to be desired, such as the ability to write or lack off to and installed micro-sdcards. Though, you have the other end of the spectrum with Viewsonic’s subpar G-Tablet and it’s specs:
- 1 GHz dual-core processor(Nvidia Tegra)
- 512MB DDR2 memory
- 2D/3D Graphics processing
- HD Video encode and decode
- Ultra-low power GeForce GPU
- 1080p video playback processor
- OpenGL ES 2.0
- 32-bit LP-DDR2, DDR2
- 16GB internal memory (expandable up to 32GB via SD Card)
From a hardware standpoint, the devices are nearly identical. But what make these devices differ is while the Xoom is running Google’s (Latest and greatest OS) Android 3.0 which was created to run on tablets, you have the G-tablet running Android 2.2 (Froyo). Wait, Froyo? It’s running a Smartphone OS, so there’s clearly going to be issues, right? Well, yes there are issues – tons of issues actually. It’s to the point that while the Xoom is still expensive (16GB $399.99 / 32GB $499.99), the G-tablet can be had for a song and a dance at $249.99 or lower. Though, if you’re smart you can simply use a custom rom / kernel on that G-tablet and make it so that it does run Android 3.0, it’s operate like a champ. Hell, you can do the same thing to an Barnes & Noble’s Nook! But this is just more issues with the Android OS market and the fragmentation that’s running rampant.
I touched base in my last paragraph about certain devices running new versions of the OS vs some older versions and now we get to the main issue!! Unlike the iPod / iPhone / iPad connection where if I purchase an app for my one device, unless it’s an older version of the hardware (mostly 1st or 2nd generation iPods / iPhones) you can run that app on all three devices. That’s not so much the case with Android. If you purchase, say a Gameloft title such as Asphault 6 for example, it’ll run on your Android smartphone just fine, though with exceptions. However, if you try and run that said app on an Android tablet, you’ll simply get that wonderful error:
This Item is not compatible with your device
What? The whole reason I got an Android tablet was so I could enjoy the very same applications I enjoyed on my Android smartphone – just on a bigger screen and better hardware. Surely this shouldn’t be an issue, but the sad truth is that this happens to a pretty high percentage of applications ran on an Android tablet. So how do you get around this? You don’t. All you can do is hope that the creator of that application is working on a version that is compatible with your tablet, such as what Netflix is doing. This upset me to no end, so I have to run those applications on my smart format Android device vs my higher resolution large format Android device. So, not only do we have fragmentation with Android devices but we also have it with Android applications. As of writing this article, there are about 232 applications that work with Android 3.0 and are “optimized for tablets”.
Would I go with an Apple device if I knew I’d have these issues from the start? No, and while I don’t like how the Android market currently is, I will admit that it is growing. Plus, I’ve learned a thing or two regarding hack / rooting Android devices, something that I wouldn’t have learned on an Apple device. However, I do wish Android could emulate the success that Apple has with it’s applications running on all 3 of their iOS devices. And lastly, yes I do own an Apple device: 2 Apple iPod Touch’s, though I own a Motorola OG Droid (Hacked to death and back), a Motorola Droid X, a Motorola Xoom 32GB and soon an HTC Thunderbolt.