Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Someone has finally understood that backward compatibility is important!

It took Google long enough to understand that the key to iPhone's success is quite simple. In my opinion, there are 3 simple reasons:
  1. Backward compatibility of iPhone OS upgrades so that developers need only worry if they are making use of the new features of the new OSes.
  2. Standardisation of screen size for AppStore related apps so that developers can concentrate on the functionality.
  3. Free and simple to use IDE.

Google may have finally caught on the first point. I find it amusing that there are so many different versions of the Android OSes and they are not easily upgradable by the handset owners because they have added layers on top of it that may break if the OSes are upgraded. Google's solution? I heard was to stop developing new versions quickly. I find that 4 versions in less than a year is rather extreme, especially when you're talking about an operating system. However this will not resolve the Android fragmentation problem which I have highlighted way back in November here.

The fact that Android OS is open source will prohibit the AppStore from being as successful as the Apple Appstore for the simple fact that the developer who is developing the application will need to target certain phone(s) so as to maximize the features that are being developed. Different handset owners adding layers on top of the OSes doesn't help the cause. In fact, I'm not surprised if certain apps will not work on the mentioned Android OS due to this "layer" added on top. It doesn't help that the Android OSes wasn't designed to be backward compatible in the first place.

I still feel that everyone has missed the important point of standardisation of screen sizes. Based on my limited experience in mobile programming, screen size matters a lot to the developers, especially if the intention is to create games. Apple has worked around it by using scaling so that the current iPhone Apps will work on the iPad. However, this does not fix the fact that the app is not designed for such a large screen estate and usability will be impacted. That is why I'm certain that the next iPhone will not have a smaller screen size.

Another point is the process of creating an iPhone App. Creating iPhone Apps is quite easy compared to the other mobile technologies I have dabbed a little in (J2ME, Visual Studio anyone?) previously. From what I heard from my friends, creating Android apps is a pain, and yet you have to deal with the Android OS fragmentation problem.

I guess Google has a lot of problems to fix. That's life.

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