Jul 4, 2011
Fragmentation sometimes is an overblown issue on Android; it still is a major issue on the platform, though. More and more big name apps are launching on Android with app support lists that are miniscule at best. Netflix is still limited to a few phones. Hulu Plus supports six phones. Not to be outdone, Skype for Android supports four. Of course, Hulu Plus is still more ridiculous just because of the fact that this is a device that runs Flash, and the only thing stopping browser-based support of Hulu on Android is Hulu. This also affects the world of gaming; Order & Chaos Online’s support list is a nonsensical mish-mash of devices, as well. Any particular reason why the Samsung Captivate, a Galaxy S phone, doesn’t support the game when other carriers’ Galaxy S phones do support it? Of course, this is AT&T’s version of the phone; anything is possible.
This has led me to hypothesize that if Google+’s “Hangouts” feature ever were to come to mobile (and Google has talked about it), iOS would be more likely to get it first. While Gingerbread does have built-in video calling, video calling between multiple platforms is apparently a very tricky proposition; it might be difficult for Google to get it supported on a wide array of devices. It’s quite possible that if and when the iOS version of Google+ launches, it could be getting Hangouts much sooner, or at least on a wider array of devices, than Android gets it. Mind you, this is a Google service, so while such a possibility is unlikely, it would be tremendously ironic considering that fragmentation is still Android’s biggest problem.
iOS devices are not free from fragmentation, and some apps don’t work on some devices, sure; earlier devices are quickly being phased out by Apple, and there was legitimate fear that iOS5 would have spelled doom for the iPhone 3GS, which still gets advertized by AT&T, though it appears it is safe for at least a few more months. However, iOS does have the advantage of more unified hardware and software bases in order to make development for features like cameras far easier than they are on Android, which is partially why features like Skype video calling come quicker to iOS, and why Netflix and Hulu Plus were able to get to release on iOS much sooner. The openness of Android is at times its strength and its drawback; and at times, its drawbacks are on full display.