Monday meh: Android “fragmentation”

Welcome to the first in an occasional series called “Monday meh”, in which I briefly fulminate about something that made me a bit grumpy.

Occasionally, web pundits complain about Android fragmentation. “Fragmentation” is Punditese for “oh dear me, I hate diversity because it makes my job so hard”.

If there were only iPhones, the job of web developers would be much easier. But, of course, most people in the world would then have no access to the Web. Call me “Captain Priority of Constituencies” if you want, but denying most of the world access to the Web in order to make a few people’s lives easier is what computer scientists term “getting it wrong” and “missing the point”.

It’s like being a bartender and complaining that your job would be so much easier if no customers ever bothered you while you’re polishing glasses and reading your Mixology books.

Disagree? Please meh my meh.

7 Responses to “ Monday meh: Android “fragmentation” ”

Comment by Pete Duncanson

The grumble is more about making the best use of your time. You can either spend it making “awesomeness ™” and actually fixing a problem or need or you can spend in on what seems like needless boiler plate, gaffer tape and work around. Ideally we’d all be liking to create shiny things but fragmentation means precious time making the shiny is diverted to annoying hoop jumping, duplicate work and work arounds…

If something can be done to make the problem go away or be less time consuming the better but it thats not always possible sadly. Meh…

Comment by Ben Seven

This meh is a bit meh.

1) I agree that folk who get annoyed about *mobile* diversity are being lazy, missing the point etc.

2) I disagree with the assertion that those who complain about ‘droid fragmentation are wrong to.

For whatever reason, a large number of older Android devices don’t get the new shiny, and as such end up stuck with a shitty browser and worse UX than those who bought later on (still supported with updates) or more recently.

According to http://isandroidgoodyet.com/ more than 60% of users are ‘stuck with a crippled browsing experience’. There are other browsers, but given the tendency of carriers to push Android devices due to more favourable deals with suppliers, there’s gonna be users that don’t think to open the android store and install a new browser – if they even know what one is!

Thankfully, mobile handsets tend to have a shorter lifespan than desktops, so it’s hardly the IE6 situation again. But it is a pain in the arse.

Comment by Anthony

Every time someone says Android fragmentation in front of me I answer: “What you call fragmentation for Android is called diversity for the web.”

It’s not ok to complain about screen sizes, technical specs differences, sensors or even versions. People buy and use the devices they want. If your business doesn’t care, that’s your decision so just shut up.

Comment by Stu Cox

23(?) years of the web being a multi-platform system and we still haven’t accepted that:

1. There will always be buggy browsers, they will be popular and they will hang around longer than we’d like
2. There will never be a time when all browsers behave the same
3. The only way to win at the web is to serve incredibly flexible content, which is tolerant of differences in browser feature sets, browser bugs, devices and users

Android is the target of abuse now and something else will be in a few years time. Devs working with IE6 (and earlier browsers) dreamed of a time when their biggest worry would be CSS transforms not being handled correctly. We’ve got it lucky.