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back to article Angry Birds struggle to take on Androids

Angry Birds developer Rovio is mulling creating multiple versions for different Android handsets, as fragmentation of the platform causes headaches for anyone not using Adobe's Flash. Angry Birds is hugely popular on iOS, and was eagerly anticipated for Android, but the fragmentation of the Android platform has prompted Rovio …

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Jobs Halo

so...

...it seems Steve™ was right...

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Anonymous Coward

what about?

all phones should do everything? or that chaep phones with reduced functionality are the work of satan?

(PS can you take pictures in the dark yet?)

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Or he wasn't.

Not making a point either way in this debate, but Angry Birds (the latest version as of yesterday) runs fine on my iPhone 4 (iOS 4.1) and equally well - but not as prettily - on the iPhone 1 (iOS 3.1, jailbroken) that I let my eight-year-old play games on.

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Dead Vulture

Not making a point either way in this debate.

Bit hypocritical claiming neutrality and then after a space and a comma reeling off a poor 'mines ok' defense of iOS.

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@mafoo

One size does not fit all. If you want to buy a smart phone capable of playing games then buy a high end one. If your budget doesn't stretch that far or you're after something with a small form factor or some other esoteric feature then buy one of those instead.

The beauty of Android is precisely because it doesn't dictate one phone / price plan / provider / manufacturer as being suitable for everyone regardless of their needs. So if you want to buy a £100 PAYG android phone you can. Just don't expect (and I doubt many people do) that it's going to give you the same performance as a Dell Streak, HTC Desire or whatever.

That said Android / Google really should be defining some gaming profiles for handsets, . Phones should be able to say they're "gaming level 1" compliant or whatever so users can assured that they'll be able to purchase and play level 1 titles without issue.

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Anonymous Coward

Heretic

Tony don't criticise Android, the droidbois are out in force. Fact is the platform is great, the hardware mfrs are the ones who are going to screw it up. Google need to get their own vanilla phones out there, or insist on certain prerequisites (which the won't). However I don't expect this sits well with the bois.

Droidbois are as bad as fanbois..

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FAIL

Different stuff != fragmentation

Just because you can list a bunch of different hardware and software variations doesn't mean a platform is fragmented.

The differences between different iDevices are, in the vast majority of cases, transparent to developers and users. Yes, the 3GS and iPhone 4 (for example) have different processors but when was the last time you saw an app that would run on one and not the other? Likewise they have different screen resolutions but have you ever seen an app only run in the top-left quadrant of the screen because it isn't updated for the Retina Display? etc.

Your link to bad reviews for Angry Birds doesn't prove the platform is fragmented. How would you even begin to reach that conclusion?

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Joke

@AC Re:Heretic

HEY THERE NOW! Stop RIGHT THERE. We are absolutely, unequivocably NOT Droidbois! How DARE you?

We are Andrones.

Bloody fanbois trying to make us into something we’re not…

</Joke in case someone can’t see the “joke alert icon” and decides to implode.>

BTW, This Androne has zero problems running Angry birds on any of the 37 Android-based phones under his care. This Androne is also happy to report that of all the phones under his care, (mostly Blackberries and Android,) there isn’t a single iPhone.

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Anonymous Coward

Anecdotal yourself

"If you're posting personal anecdotes rather than going by the balance of evidence- a large number of actual users, then I'd say you are making a point Tony, else why post at all?"

Sorry, but fail yourself. Large numbers of anecdotal evidence is still anecdotal evidence, which is still worth nothing.

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T-Mobile G1

I have a G1 and was neither surprised nor disappointed to see it in the list. It is an old phone now. Oh well.

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G1

Root it, install Cyanogen's Froyo firmware and not only does Angry Birds run fine, but the phone in general works better. Battery life is still s**t though!

I've also got a wildfire and it runs fine on that too, despite it also being on the list.

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Saw this coming

I'm not a fan of locked in markets per say (they do have product quality, security, and other advantages though) but what I am a fan of is a rigidly structured hardware model.

By not having a unified processor and GPU architecture model and ensure that the code of the OS runs smooth on all devices with the same feature sets enabled, Google has done itself and the devs a disservice. There's simply too much variance on the hardware front.

Optional parts, like keyboards, cameras, etc, are easy to deal with, but when the core of the device does or does not support functions, or supports some poorly, because of design choices made by 3rd parties, that's an issue. At the very least Google should have released a 2-3 class system putting low end, mid range, and high end minimum specs on the devices, making it easy for devs to support or not particular devices. As for the optional components, the store should maintain a database of what options each and every model has, and what devices each app would and would not work with based on those variables.

When we have an app that runs smooth on a 600MHz iOS device, but that can't reliably run on 1GHz modern phones, we have a major issue... Worse when it runs fine on some and not on others, which is the case here.

Sure, Flash is an option for some, but Angry Birds is a java app, not flash, and the physics modeling and other aspects of the game simply do not apply. Try taking that to Epic Citadel? hahahaha...

Code should simply have minimum requirements, as it does on PCs. Either you have the CPU/GPU muscle to run it, or you don;t, but there should not be code level changes required to support some devices and not others. That is a major flaw. If you have to recompile to support someone's device that has the minimum specs to overcome something they changed in the OS or supporting APIs to make something of their own work? Their device is not "Android" it's a spin-off. Google needs to get control of this mess ASAP, set hard standards, and have a "certification" program for devices.

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the main problem is not android I think.

it's rovios.

my htc hero has a 528Mhz cpu with about 288MB of internal memory, although I dont know how much of that is available for apps to run in, since I can't seem to find what RAM they have for applications to run in, separate from the storage of the device itself, apart from thinking they are the same. It also runs the screen at: 320 x 480 pixels.

So basically, it's like the same power level as a PC back in 2000, more or lesss, now I know this isn't 100% accurate, but I'm trying to get my point across, not dick about with numbers.

running angry birds on this device, the home screen runs at about 2-3 frames per second (fps).

THAT IS ABSYMAL!

under any circumstances, that game should be running at 30fps, or at least 15 under load, but it can't manage to render more than 2-3 frames in a second? it can't possibly be the device, cause other games seem to be running far faster.

So basically again this comes down to programming techniques. They basically flunked the android port and it's completely unoptimised and not fit for purpose.

thank god they dont sell it.

the real interesting part comes from this info is that it's not actually angry birds who are affected, lots of apps on my hero do crazy stuff, sometimes I try to open it, it takes 15 seconds, other times I'm on the metro and it uses 1% battery life per approximately 1 minute until the battery is empty because it can't get a signal, so it up's the power trying harder and harder until the battery runs out.

then, some apps are just slow, other apps bring the device to a crawl.....

I dunno, in this case I'm willing to bet their game engine isn't up to scratch, but at the same time, lots of android have problems, perhaps it's time for google to start putting cookie cutter api's which solve problems people often have, but in optimial and efficient code paths, but I think the problem comes from people writing their own routines which are just simply not up to the job.

anyone else agree?

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Anonymous Coward

I suspect

That the game runs fine on the latest handsets, the fact it doesn't run well on yours maybe down to some programming issue or the port of code, or down to the mix of hardware, and this is exactly why it is going to be tough for developers to fix.

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FAIL

Are you sure

@Chris Thomas Alpha

Are you sure you've thought about what you're actually saying? First you say it must be Rovio's fault then you go on to say "the real interesting part comes from this info is that it's not actually angry birds who are affected, lots of apps on my hero do crazy stuff"

Please think about what you've just said... if it's "lots of apps" doing "crazy stuff" then maybe, just maybe, it isn't down to any one of them but rather the platform?

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still makes sense..

what I said was, with the power available, there is no reason why rovio can't make angry birds run, I mean, the home page is basically a parallax scroller with typical three/four layers, but runs at about 2-3 frames per second.

in this case, it's pretty obvious that it's rovio's fault, you can't make a 3 layer parallax scroller that runs at 30fps on a 500+Mhz cpu with more than 256MB of ram, you're not worth the money the company is paying you to program, go work in mcdonalds.

but additionally, I was willing to say that there ARE strange things with android sometimes, BUT IN THIS CASE, I'm sorry, I believe that this particular case, is rovio's, I was just mentioning both to make sure people didnt think I was siding one way or the other without a valid reason.

my thinking is that they just did a straight port of the iphone version and their game engine does things which is incompatible with android, so whilst android has problems, I believe in this case, they just didnt write a different codepath which is optimal.

(for reference, I used to write graphics code back in the day, so I know a bit about what I'm talking about when it comes to how much performance I should be expecting here)

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One man's "fragmented"

is another's "diverse".

I know apps can specift the API level needed to see them in the market, but can they specify other filters?

Sounds like Android need some kind of device scoring system to cover things like screen size, CPU, etc., in order to classify compatible apps in the market.

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Flame

Yeah but

Who is going to say whether they are compatible, you can't expect the developers to know every handset, so not realistic other than to do the old software compatibility lists like 5-10 years ago? Then you are talking about users knowing which devices specs they have.

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@yeah but

I thought it was more a case of the App Store not showing as available any apps that won't work on your configuration.

That Angry Birds shows compatibility with some phones but then has issues is more a coding issue than a handset issue.

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Thumb Up

game profiles

so basically the guy above who I can't remember his name said it right, android needs to define game profiles, which are "levels of performance" so you can target a minimum of Game profile 3+ which means the original Magic won't qualify, but the hero would, but Game Profile 4+ would require a desire.

this discounts people hacking the phone to return a different game profile level to cheat the system into installing games which are not suitable.

it sounds like a reasonable solution

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Anonymous Coward

No News Here....

Just because Android works on small cheap phones doesn't mean that the small cheap phones have all the features required for everything. If you buy a lite-weight phone dont expect it to do everything...

(Angry birds still works on more versions on Android phones than all the ios devices!)

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And...?

Yes, but, it works on all iOS devices.

From a consumer point-of-view, if an app says it works on "Android", it should work on "Android", not "Android but only on these handsets..."

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Flame

Yes but

The issue is that the people who buy the cheap phones have been told that these phones are as good as the iphone/best android phones. They see it runs a Smartphone OS and expect to be able to play Angry Birds or whatever is the latest game. The guys in the shop, and I have heard them do it, are making all sorts of claims.

Now you could argue that these people deserve what they get, however the issue is that it destroys peoples perception of the Android platform. If I have been sold a cheapo Android device, and I then find out it wont support iplayer or Angry Birds, your average user is going to blame the platform.

Google need to get this back in line, which there have been suggestions of, or they could end up killing a great platform.

I have a 3GS due for renewal, and have considered a new Android for my next device, but I am still concerned about support from manufacturers, and would probably only consider something like an official Google phone where I know I can expect up to date releases and updates. I don't want to download ROMs from some backdoor site, compiled by who knows, I expect Google or mfrs to supply me a phone that lasts.

Flame away Droidbois

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Silver badge

Perversely enough..

..Angry Birds works on this cheap little ZTE Racer. It gets laggy when the advertising mechanism tries to do something, and it's smoother if you turn the sound off but it's playable.

And yes, it's funny watching people compare a GPUriffic handheld games & playthings platform costing either hundreds of pounds or an 18 month ball and chain, versus a budget pocketable device of anything down to 10% of the iWotsit's price on a 3 network PAYG SIM. Apples and, err, oranges?

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FAIL

re: And...

Are you claiming all ios apps work on all apple phones? or just angry birds?

I seem to recall that there are many apps that do not work on different versions of the iphone. off the top of my head, any barcode scanning app...

From a consumer point of view if the app says it works on apple then it should work on any apple.. blah blah..

Oh you were only talking current devices? perhaps that list of 14 should be updated to current androids too!

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Black Helicopters

really?

"(Angry birds still works on more versions on Android phones than all the ios devices!)"

how are you backing up that claim or is it just a christmas wish in your head?

and i think developers should think twice about giving in to Google on this.. they should vote with their money & apps and this might make google/handset makers get their act together and put a proper infrastructure around Android so that the whole fragmentation issue is sorted.

No point in making loads more sales if your administration and manufacture time goes way up too.

Remember turnover is not profit. No point in making 200,000 in sales if your costs become 199,999

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WTF?

Backing up that claim

its a bit obvious aint it? 100+ android devices verse 10 apple devices? does it need backing up? OK - Go to http://phandroid.com/phones/ and count the versions of android phones (100+). Then subtract 14 (the number Rovio Claim do not work - sourced from the article) and compare that number to the number of devices Apple Produce that support AB. http://www.apple.com (currently iPad, iPhone4 & iPodTouch = 3 but historically 4 iPhones 1iPad a few Touches.. erm = 10?)

I think you'll find that claim is legit.

As an aside I think you'll find that AB on android is free, so it isn't really a sale anyway!

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I guess

it's like the early days of computers isn't it? Will work on x, not on Y and if you have a Z fuggetabout it!

Mind you, the X10 Mini is on their list of non working phones, but I can run it on mine. Guess it's because of the update we got this week.

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It's MSX all over again

A "standard" OS, but no standard hardware.

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Surely this applies to Apple too?

There must be apps around that won't run on the original iphone, or even on the 3G? Just as there must be ipad apps that won't run on iphones (seeing as the tablet issue was also mentioned as leading to further fragmentation). How is this any different to older and/or cheaper android phones not being able to run some apps?

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Silver badge
FAIL

Alternatively .....

..... the BBC could just use an Open protocol, for streaming data in an Open format.

It's the *same* data they already broadcast over the airwaves in a fully-documented analogue form, which must meet anyone's definition of Open, for crying out loud.

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WTF?

HTC Hero?

Runs fine on mine. Low FPS, but still very playable.

The diversity of Android is a double edged sword, it allows the platform to spread far and wide but rules out faster low level code.

I'm currently having perfomance issues in my project. Not due to lack of CPU grunt, but because of the way the app has to bounce in and out of JNI for GL state changes.

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Anonymous Coward

Hero

I can play it on the Hero, but some of the structure show up white, on a white background, so I am guessing it might be a memory issue rather than a CPU problem.

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update the app..

if you have missing images, your running the old version of the app, check the market for an update.

although be warned...

what ever they did to correct the graphics problem has caused the app to lag...

still playable tho on my hero.

I think over clocking has helped it. FroydVillain win :)

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pulled the iPlayer streams used by third-party android app myPlayer

A little confused by this line. myplayer is working fine on my desire.

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Stop

Don't update it then

Have you updated it recently?

I did, just before reading this article (didn't read the update notes *sigh*) and all BBC streams/content had been removed. Had to uninstall and sideload an old version to get the streams back (there's an 11 day old upload on 4shared - use at your own risk.)

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FAIL

how many times do they need to say fragmentation?

On PC, the fact that display,... is different is no problem at all, yet when developing for a mobile platform they seem to be unable to write flexible code?

It's all pretty standard with an ARM chip and a graphics system. Don't use compiler options to specify a specific ARM architecture (ARMv7/...) and you should be fine.

If the platform is below the required spec for a cpu/gpu hungry app, that is one thing, but to blame fragmentation? Sponsored by Apple to spray such crap?

Anyway, having seen Angry Birds on my n900 (and totally missing the hype), I wonder where the problem could be, it is not the most complex app I've seen.

And if you app can't handle different screen dimensions, please don't call yourself a developer. Script kiddie is closer...

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You get this on PCs too.

Unless Google are going to pretty much ape Apple and bring out only on specific phone that can run android you are bound to get this. In fact, I would be very pissed off if I spent £600 on a spankingly good Android phone only to discover that a phone for £200 would run all the same apps.

To my mind this is good -- though perhaps some kind of "grading" may be in order so htat people can compare the devices when they buy them.

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Anonymous Coward

exactly

The problem is people are buying an android phone and expect it to behave "as seen on TV", your average phone sales person probably isn't going to make much effort to dispel that view.

The question is, as with the pc market, people will go and upgrade to the better handset when there £100 phone doesn't do everything, or will they blame Android OS?

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

(Written by Reg staff)

Re: RE: You get this on PCs too.

Apple doesn't want to win and doesn't need to. It has been a very long time since it played the volume-sales game, and where it has achieved this - the iPod family, for example - it has largely done so in spite of itself.

But by any measure, the iPhone is selling massively well.

Yes, Android is providing more popular, for the reasons you point out, but buyers' loyalties, such as they are, are spread across dozens of phones. There is only one iPhone.

Who cares if Android becomes the OS on 90 per cent of the World's phones? It'll just be Microsoft Windows all over again at that point.

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*more* hero

'works fine' ,, well it did , till I saw what it should look like... I'd say it was a texture space/memory problem.. Tbh the phone is more than capable so I don't understand why they don't have a 'lower memory footprint' version........ I'll sort it for them if they want :)

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Linux

Brids on Hero

Well i have a rooted Hero running Froyo2.2 villian rom and it works, ok its a little laggy and the cpu has been put up to the max, but it works, and i don't get any fragmentation.

if you are having problems with memory try something like i don't know killing all the apps you arn't using, like tweet, stock market, facebook and all the other crap that sense has running in the back ground on the phone.

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