Oct 31, 2011
An infographic has been making its way around the web the past week showing the various Android phone’s that have been released and their hardware OS support. There’s nothing quite inaccurate about it, but there’s a subtext with many of Apple superiority because of OS support. A lot of these comparisons are apples to oranges, of course. First off, the definition of “major release” seems to be based solely on named Android releases to Apple’s yearly major releases, not counting any major point releases. It seems unfair to compare by major version releases when Android releases what are counted as major version releases more often than Apple does.But we’ll play along with the graphic in the terms it defines.
The thing to remember, though, is that Android and iOS are different in their very natures. iOS is a piece of Apple software, following Apple principles; it is designed to run on specific hardware. That is a big part of why the experience is often smoother. Android is designed to run on many, many forms of hardware, not just what Google has intended for it to run on. Yes, Google has their stock devices that run a pure Android, but Android is meant to be something bigger, and not as something tailored to one set of hardware. That Android is on the caliber of Android is impressive.
Tus, I find it hard to swallow the arguments of iOS supporters as to iOS being smoother – it is, but Apple’s also playing a different game. It’s difficult to say one way or the other if iOS would be as pleasant an experience if it had to work on disparate hardware like Android does. After all, Apple has always been about controlling what hardware their software runs on, from traditional computer operating systems to iOS now. Designing software for many types of hardware is more challenging, and it can explain many of the reasons why software isn’t as smooth. It has to be more generic and compatible, because it has to run on more types of hardware, and on many different resolutions. It just is not the same, conceptually.
As well, Apple is hardly innocent when it comes to device OS support. The original iPhone was not supported with iOS4 at all despite being practically identical in terms of hardware to the iPhone 3G. Oh, and iOS4 ran very poorly on older hardware, to boot. Then, Apple ditched the iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2nd Generation in sudden fashion with iOS 4.3. By the way, Apple sold a device, the 8 GB iPod touch 3rd Generation, which was no longer supported not 15 months later from the day it went on sale.
Guess there is a comparison between Apple and other hardware manufacturers: neither is perfect with long-term support.