Skip to main content


Impact of Android 4.0

After being pelted with all of the news of the Apple iPhone 4s, Androidians™ finally have a reason to smile. Google debuted Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”) last week at the rollout of the Samsung  Galaxy Nexus in Hong Kong. Android 4 is the first unified version for tablets and smart phones. Android smartphone developers have had to deal with multiple versions of the Android operating system since Google made the decision to fork the OS, one geared for phones and one for tablets (but not both).  In the current world, I as an Android developer can target the Android 2.x platform for a smartphone app and 3.x (Honeycomb) platform for tablet-based app but would have a great deal of work to marry the two (despite Google backporting some of the 3.x functionality into the 2.x platform).  The Android 4.0 platform would eliminate the need for that extra work.
However, Android nirvana for developers will not be reached for some time.  Even after new phones (and tablets) are released with 4.0, they will be a small percentage of the installed base.  If I am developing a smartphone app in the coming year, the platform that deliver the greatest “bang for the buck” will be the 2.2/2.3 version. Verizon just announced yesterday that Motorola phones such as the Droid Pro and Droid 2 Global will see the 2.3 Gingerbread upgrade that was promised in May of this year (if you do the math, it is six months).  Don’t expect phones capable of running Android 4.0 to be upgraded by their respective handset producers (Motorola , Samsung, HTC) anytime soon which means as a Android developer, I can’t take advantage of the 4.0 feature set until some time in the 2nd quarter of 2012.
10/27/2011 – update
It is a bit worse than I stated above.  There was a blog post that has analyzed the level of upgrade support enjoyed by Android phones and the conclusion is that there really isn’t any upgrade path.  The OS that is on the phone when purchased is most likely the one you will have for the life of the phone and that OS may not even be the most current version.  To quote the blog author: ” If developers apply that same standard to Android, it will be at least 2015 before they can start requiring 2010’s Gingerbread OS.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Perry Hoekstra

More from this Author

Follow Us