When it comes to Android, there has always been a problem with fragmentation. It appears though in some newly released documents that Google might have finally solved this problem. Solving the fragmentation problem will do many positive things for the Android users and app developers out there such as streamlining updates.
Android Extensions Potentially Solves Update Problems
When you look at fragmentation this is basically when users are prevented from getting the latest Android features due to the operating system not being to the newest released version. The other issue too is that users are more vulnerable to security issues due to the fact that the old operating system might not be getting updates or patches anymore.
Google was said to begin shaming device makers that were late to the updates on their operating systems previously. Google is not happy that so many people are running various versions of Android because that leads to slower adoption rates of the newest operating system. The slower adoption rates are bad for Google as it makes it appear people are not interested in the newest offerings, when in reality it is just that their devices have not updated yet with older devices possibly not getting the updates at all.
We already covered how Android devices were at risk for a new malware, and most of the security risks Android users face is from having an older operating system. As far as adoption rates, Android N is only on .3 percent of devices, with Android Marshmallow sitting at 24 percent. Android Lollipop is at 22.8 percent for 5.1 and at 11.3 percent for 5.0. The most worrisome part of the Google Android team’s report on adoption rates is that KitKat is on 25.2 percent of devices. KitKat was Android version 4.4 and is the most outdated version out there, yet is still being used by a majority of Android users. So how can Android Extensions help solve this problem?
Android Extensions a Likely Solution
Android Extensions would essentially extend how Android functions in the shared libraries. The manufacturers of the various Android phones will have to include the version of the operating system they are putting on their device. The thought behind this is that Google can use Android Extensions to bypass the operating system put on by the manufacturers and carries. This would then allow Google to push out the operating system updates to all devices at the same time.
When it comes to fragmentation of users and the operating system, using Android Extensions would nearly eliminate all fragmentation since Google itself would be pushing out the operating system updates. Right now users have to wait for the operating system update based on carrier or manufacturer, with the updates being pushed out in batches depending on the device and how old the device is. Really old devices are left out of the newer updates all together over-the-air, and have to resort to installing the APK. Even sometimes that does not work, which is why so many people using Android are still stuck on Android 4.4 KitKat. Speaking of APK, Google will be able to use the APKs on some devices to push through updates on Android without actually requiring the full system to be updated.
Android Extension Thoughts
When it comes to Google, the thought of Android Extensions though still raises a few questions. The first being that it would still be the choice of the user to upgrade the operating system, so how would it really go about making fragmentation less of an issue? Google might be relying on the fact that users would be more inclined to upgrade the operating system if it was streamlined and an easier process all together. That is really something that remains to be seen. The second question is how would they ensure that the manufacturers and carriers are going to abide by the new guidelines?
Since Google will be able to push out updates quicker and faster this way it should really help developers fix bugs and glitches in the apps. As far as a user goes, you will be able to get the features and functions of the new operating system and apps without doing a complete operating system update. That does take away incentive though to push the update operating system button if you are getting all of the new functions without going through the whole process. It is still not known if Android Extensions is the answer to the fragmentation problem, but it appears Google has high hopes for this project.