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Developers battle with over 100 different versions of Android


By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 14 Oct 2010 at 13:37

The scale of the challenge facing Android developers has been laid bare by Twitter client TweetDeck, which has just launched a full version of its UI for Google's smartphone OS.

During beta testing of its new software, TweetDeck encountered more than 36,000 testers using an enormous pool of 244 different handets, according to the Tweetdeck blog.

Not only was hardware for the platform fragmented, but Tweetdeck had to contend with more than a hundred different versions of Android, highlighting just how muddled the market is for the open-source platform.

According to posters on the TweetDeck forum, the multiple hardware and software iterations present their own challenges for developers.

“It's not particularly harder to develop for Android over iPhone (from a programming standpoint),” said Christopher Pabon, a developer who writes apps for both the iPhone and Android platforms. “Except when it comes to final quality assurance and testing. Then it can be a nightmare. (a manageable nightmare, mind you).

“I know of a major company having a multimillion dollar project held up because of it," he said. "Project managers definitely prefer developing for iPhone over Android because there is less to worry about in final QA.”

Android TweetDeck 1.0 is available from the Android Market and although development might have been challenging, the company said the open environment meant it could get its software to a wider variety of end users.

"We were really shocked to see the number of custom versions, crazy phones and general level of customisation of Android," the company said. "From our perspective, it's pretty cool to have our app work on such a wide variety of devices and Android OS variations."

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User comments

Developers battle with over 100 different versions of Android

As long as none of them is called T-1000 we still have a chance.

By Josefov on 14 Oct 2010


Apple are often accused of various degrees of control freakery and paranoia.

This is why. It is not Big Brother to want to control the environment to provide a consistent experience to both user and developer.

By Dannyt on 14 Oct 2010

100 versions of Android? I can think of 3 or 4 kernels at a push but 100? Utter rubbish. Anyone care to list them?

By Nodule on 14 Oct 2010

Better Overview

A couple of weeks ago we put together a poster of the first 100 Android devices (not user_agents) that we spotted browsing the mobile web. That gives a better impression of the impressive diversity of the platform.
0.png [] Meanwhile we have already 125 devices. 20+ increase in 4 weeks.

By whoisstan on 14 Oct 2010

244 handsets != 100 versions of Android FFS

1.5, 1.6, 2.1, 2.2

In 6 months time it won't be worth bothering with targeting below 2.1

By AlanBourke on 14 Oct 2010


So backwards compatibility isn't worth the hassle? i can understand there is a cut-off point, but surely 2.0 would be a better bottom line, and if not too much trouble, 1.6. At least till q1 2011.

By khellan on 27 Oct 2010

Sounds interesting.... also read an article here and that too was eye pleasing:

By james_vandre on 7 Dec 2011

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