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back to article Tim Cook: Android version fragmentation is 'terrible for developers'

Before CEO Tim Cook handed over the iOS 7–introduction chores to other Apple execs at the company's Worldwide Developer Conference, he took a moment to slag Android and its OS fragmentation in an appeal for the hearts and minds of developers. "This version fragmentation is terrible for developers, as many of you know," he told …

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CEO of company slags off major competitor

Well who would think that would happen?

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Re: CEO of company slags off major competitor

Jobs spent much more time during these events talking about how great Apple stuff was, and mostly left insults against competitors up to the users. Apple may have poked fun at their competition with stuff like the ads with the Mac guy and the PC guy, but they never said the kind of stuff Cook said, which was basically "you suck, neener neener neener!"

While I'm sure this plays well with the audience at the WWDC, it makes Cook and Apple look small when he's quoted in the media.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: CEO of company slags off major competitor

"it makes Cook and Apple look small when he's quoted in the media."

Exactly, just like MS, Apple should realise they're in a bad place when they have to spend a chunk of time explaining (in their clearly unbiased opinion) how bad someone else's OS is instead of how good theirs is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: CEO of company slags off major competitor

Pointing out facts is now seen as slagging off?

If he was telling porkies I'd agree, but he is in fact telling it as it is, however unpalatable Android users find it.

Though not the users fault but Android phones generally fail to get updated because either the manufacturer or service provider fail to deliver and only give the latest versions with a new phone. Those that do upgrade, google phone excepted, get flawed updates stuffed with junk from the service provider.

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Coat

Android Winning

...enough said.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: CEO of company slags off major competitor

I think slagging off someone else is pathetic and weak. It's IMHO tragic if you think you need that, instead of trusting your audience to draw its own conclusions.

I may be fairly happy with Apple products, but I am certainly not impressed with Tim Cook's new leadership. The time to give the guy a break because he's new at it has passed, and IMHO he's not up to snuff. He suffers as much of the lieutenant syndrome as Ballmer, only has a different style. His bullying is more the continuation of this stupid trivia patent war and now this even more stupid comparison game.

Show what is better, don't give competitors airtime. The latter only tells your audience you're worried about them. If you don't trust your own products to speak for themselves you really should go and do something else, like selling hamburgers. I fear that Apple risks sliding back to where they were before Jobs came back (slowly). That would be a stupid waste of ability and market capital.

Lose this guy.

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WTF?

Re: Android Winning

You're not wrong, have you seen the improved unlock screen.

It looks remarkably like a jellybean format. I know you can't do much with the digital format of the clock, but same font, same position. Even my Apple friends have joked they are using a Samsung Apple hybrid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: CEO of company slags off major competitor

Quite clearly anyone that believes this tripe is a cretin.

Apple play games. They have 4 different versions of ios6 in reality, all with different features,but his fancy chart pretends they are all the same.

What he also fails to mention is android API levels are very static. Targeting ICS and newer gets you 70 something percent off all devices without no real loss in API features ( most are in the backwards compatibility libraries and there is action bar Sherlock to support gingerbread)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Targeting ICS and newer gets you 70 something percent off all devices

Making a web app allows you to target more than that. Something like 100% of android devices, 100% of iOS devices, Windows phones and Blackberries. So stick your api behind a javascript library extension and shut up. The world doesn't care which OS you hide the web behind, just get out of the way and let us get some stuff done!

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Holmes

Re: CEO of company slags off major competitor

That'll be the Apple Cultists then (usually AC here)

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Re: CEO of company slags off major competitor

"Jobs spent much more time during these events talking about how great Apple stuff was"

...and this is exactly how you should do it. Jobs may have had his faults, but Apple's fortunes did turn around when he was there and negative marketing (criticising competitors) is a defeatist way to operate and is usually a sign of weakness, poor judgement and lousy marketing.

Most products and systems have advantages or disadvantages compared to other, more so when the operating environments are different - and don't forget that while iOS and Android nominally are similar their operating environments are different: Apple have a tight reign on the hardware, OS and applications where Android is much looser and open. [This isn't an argument as to which is "right", just stating facts - both approaches have major positive and negative points].

So when this guy starts to criticise a competitor like this (negative marketing) then it's an indication of weakness in him and likely his products too. Would you rather deal with somebody who is positive about their own products or somebody who is busy being negative about a competitor's where they should be telling you about theirs?

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Re: CEO of company slags off major competitor

Apple users are more fanatical about how much they like Apple things - shock, news at 11. I don't think that means a product is better. If I love my Android phone, but also note there are some things I'd criticise; but someone else loves their feature phone, and is ignorant of the things that other phones do better, does that mean the latter is better? Better at marketing, maybe.

The Android average will be pulled down by two factors:

* People who buy lower end cheaper phones. Although just as many (more in fact) high end Android phones are bought as iphones, the lower end will still drag down any averages.

* Niche platforms always do better for users being fanatical, because a dominant platform like Android is also used by all the people who don't give a damn about operating system, platform, smartphones or whatever, and so don't feel enthusiastic about it. Back in the early 90s when the Amiga was a popular home computer, but also a computer that the mainstream users themselves would criticise, I predicted back then the same thing would happen to PCs when they became popular in homes. And look today - I was right, people moan about PCs, but the minority of Mac users are still fanatical (and as the Amiga userbase shrunk in the 90s, the users that remained were more likely to be the ones who'd praise rather than criticise their platform).

And the other charts are misleading too. Since when do I have to code specifically for say, Android 4.0, but not 4.1? It's easy to just set a minimum requirement. Even if I limit my apps to 4.0 or above, there are still more users than all IOS users. Problems with fragmentation are more about different devices to have to test on - but with numerous iphones, ipads, ipad minis, and even rumours of a 12" ipad, that's a problem with IOS too now.

And for download revenue? Yep, Apple is expensive. I'd prefer the platform with lower costs for software, and more freely available software. What next - are Windows users going to criticse Linux because "software revenue" is lower for Linux??

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Anonymous Coward

Re: CEO of company slags off major competitor

I think Tim Cook should stop Trolling. Does he think developers like releasing apps after years of development for lasts years toy?

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Fail...

The sheer fact that he now sees the need to actually sell iOS to the devs is evidence that it's in trouble...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fail...

Oh you are soooo right, they are struggling are they not.......

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Re: Fail...

> Oh you are soooo right, they are struggling are they not.......

Erm, well yes, they are certainly slipping.

What people were really looking for was some genuine innovation. What they got was some tweaking of already existing products.

Jobsy would have had something brand new to show the fanbois and fangals. He was an arse, but he knew what the word innovation means.

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Re: Fail...

Erm...

The clue is in the D in WWDC

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Nothing new to show then

"Ugh ugh the Galaxy S4 has a ton of stuff we have no hope of integrating like NFC (our antenna guys suck) but look people are still using Android 2.3 3 years after it was released instead of buying the new shiny all the time. Don't they know they could buy the latest iPhone every release and get no new features?"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nothing new to show then

Yes the features like on the S4 would be great, if they were actually useful or worked properly.

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Re: Nothing new to show then

Maybe you aren't holding it right.. oh wait, that wasn't a Samsung handset was it?

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Nobody got fired for buying IBM

There is no fragmentation in the MVS world

If everyone sticks to running IBM software on IBM mainframes we can ignore all this PC business

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Happy

Re: Nobody got fired for buying IBM

If everyone sticks to running IBM software on IBM mainframes...

Then we'll all have to wear nuclear-powered, super-reinforced, anti-gravity trousers - in order to be able to carry them around...

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RIght...

50% more iPhone use than Android? Right. But Android is outselling iPhone and yet more iPhone users are using their phones than Android. Sure.

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Re: RIght...

I think he just meant that the average amount of time an iPhone user uses his or her device for is 50% greater than that an Android owner does.

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Re: RIght...

I don't think the fact that it takes iPhone users twice as long to get their phone to do what they want it to would be something for Mr Cook to be smug about.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RIght...

Dear silent_count: "... it takes iPhone users twice as long to get their phone to do what they want it to ..."

Yawn... Your knee-jerk anti-Apple silliness is tiring.

Grow up, m'boy, grow up, and provide some useable data rather than foolish, unsupported trash-talking.

You bore me – along with anyone else who prefers factual analysis to simple-minded snottiness.

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Re: RIght...

Well I guess it depends why that is...

Maybe iPhone uses spend 50% more time on it because it takes longer to do anything on it. It's a nonsense statistic as presented of course.

Fact is I have many Android devices in my house, and most of them are only used for a few minutes a day. Why? Because I'm using Android to power smart remotes and so on, so I just don't *need* to use them all day. I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons and probably more widespread than my example though.

The "uses it more" statistic had no useful context to determine what that meant and so it means absolutely nothing. Like most statistics.

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Happy

Re: RIght...

So that would be spun as....and in the stylee of the latests iPhoe ads..."Every day, iPhone users get 50% more free time."

That bloke should have had a band playing on the stage and named the new iOS, Titanic.

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Re: RIght...

"I think he just meant that the average amount of time an iPhone user uses his or her device for is 50% greater than that an Android owner does."

So, it only takes ios users double the time to do something compared to Android users?

Hey! Those fanboys are getting better at using computers, next time they may even be capable of preordering online instead of queuing.

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@AC 05:32 Re: RIght...

"You bore me - along with anyone else who prefers factual analysis to simple-minded snottiness."

I prefer factual analysis over simple-minded snottiness. So you would find me boring?

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Re: RIght...

AC - Apple Cultist

See?? It's true I tell ya!

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Holmes

Re: RIght...

Have to ask, what exactly constitutes 'use' in this context?

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It has yet to be proven...

"Fragmentation amongst Linux distributions will be the killer blow", a critical comment which actually holds some truth because setting up software on Debian can be a completely different ballgame from doing the same on SuSE. But Linux is still going strong, ever so popular. Maybe other people can see clear signs as to why the fragmentation is extremely bad, I sure don't.

What about open source software as a whole? The fact alone that you can simply cast the magical "fork" work (and issue a quick cp command when no one is looking) was also reason for complaints. Software projects would fragment, this causing damage to the entire species.

I think that the OpenOffice project (deliberately mentioned) showed us otherwise. I think it's fair to say that the forking and fragmenting of LibreOffice may very well have saved the entire project.

If this really about a fair warning to all potential developers? Or a deliberate (and very transparent) scheme to put your own environment better into the picture?

A bit lame, don't you think?

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Holmes

Re: It has yet to be proven...

Re Fragmentation

a) is it really THAT difficult to have software supporting 2 or 3 versions of Android?

b) even if my software only work on 1 of the most popular android version (which each have approx 30% of the android install base each), 30% of all android phones is still more than 90% of all iOS phones and that gap is getting bigger.

I would think that as a developer, the biggest draw of developing for iOS over android is that iOS users are more willing to pay for their apps

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Re: It has yet to be proven...

Partly. Also iOS users are less likely likely to be innate tinkerers who will crack your Java and post it free download sites. And less likely to think "This app sucks, I'll write a better one" and actually do so.

iOS has significant benefit in terms of ease of use for users. The drawback is the extremely high barriers to entry (cost a Mac to develop on, need to learn the filth that is Objective-C) for developers.

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Re: It has yet to be proven...

Let's say I support only the "two big ones" (most used 2.x and 4.x). Assume I want to use some of the better 4.x UI features like Fragments I have to support two software trees since 2.x needs add-on libraries for that. Google overhauled the UI and added some of the Android 3 (tablet only) tree. The also reworked the guidelines

And that assumes I do not have to support multi-user (4.2, quite rare still)

And WebApps are a so-so solution. Either need extra libraries like PhoneGap or they can not access the phone functions. Not sure if PG can work with special features like the Note series provides. And the LookAndFeel is not Android/iOS/WP8 but "something foreign"

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Re: It has yet to be proven...

>I have to support two software trees since 2.x needs add-on libraries for that.

I don't think the support library actually requires you have 2 code bases as the support versions of Fragment etc work just find on 4.x. You could also use ActionBarSherlock to do all of the grunt work for you. It does the right thing depending on the SDK version it's running on. If you google hard enough (actually not very hard) you might find libraries that will help you out.. who would have thunk it?

>And that assumes I do not have to support multi-user (4.2, quite rare still)

How much extra work is needed to support multiuser? 4.2 isn't as rare as you think but the multiuser support isn't as hard as you think.

>Either need extra libraries like PhoneGap or they can not access the phone functions.

Or use ActionBarSherlock to deal with the support library for you? I think your issue with actually doing your research is bigger than any issue you could have with using the support library.

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Re: It has yet to be proven...

Maybe you are right these days. Still it IS additional effort and / or libraries. It WAS a major problem with libraries a good year ago when I was last forced to program for it at the job (never would do that in privat)

Thankfully company dropped the Android platform for Win8/x86 where tablet pc are concerned and dropped phone support completely. Me, I dropped the last Android device (Note smartie) in the (e)bay recently. Featurephone and a spanking new TPT2 do the job a lot better

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Re: It has yet to be proven...

"Fragmentation" seems to have broadened into such a catch-all term, that it's become nearly useless.

Back when they talked about "fragmentation" in the Unix world, it was a problem, because inter-operability between and porting applications between different, *proprietary* Unix OSes was a real hindrance. And was born... POSIX.

Then they started talking about how terrible "Linux fragmentation" was, and how crippling it would be to the success of Linux outside of hobbyist's garages / the parents' basement. Of course, in a FOSS (ie. Free/Open-Source Software) environment, this "silo effect" just didn't have much relevance -- there was no proprietary, arbitrary, artificial obstacle to interoperability or portability. The Linux "silos" turned out to be just adjacent rooms along the same corridors.

Now would-be detractors are spouting the same sort of nonsense about "Android fragmentation".

But the correct word, or at least a much better one, would be "diversity" (or maybe "adaptability, or simply "variation"). And funnily enough, this diversity turns out to actually be an advantage -- coping with a diverse OS environment and varied hardware exposes bad code, and strongly favours solid. robust coding and development practices.

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Pint

iOS users use their phones 50% more than Android users...

Could also mean that iOS forces it's users to spend 50% longer using it to achieve the same ends and that Android is less intrusive and a more frictionless UX. Comparing my experience as an Android user with my iOS using partner, this would certainly seem to be the more likely explanation.

But who needs objective, meaningful analysis when you have numbers to throw around, eh Mr Cook ? :)

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Devil

Re: iOS users use their phones 50% more than Android users...

Indeed so. Or it could mean that Android users have a life outside of their phone. Ain't stats fun?

GJC

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Re: iOS users use their phones 50% more than Android users...

Android users have widgets and don't need to open apps to see the news weather and bus times.

Want to tell Tim cook that. He quite clearly is an idiot if he can't work this simple thing out.

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Holmes

Re: iOS users use their phones 50% more than Android users...

Or Android users work 33% harder than AC's (Apple Cultists) with much less hipster-esque cocking around.

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Re: iOS users use their phones 50% more than Android users...

Indeed, and don't even need to check a widget to see bus times. Android will just automatically tell me it's time to leave, and Google maps will show me which buses to take. True, iphones have this too - thanks to Google - but the point is the survey is flawed if this extremely useful feature is only counted for the 5-10 seconds I look at my phone, and deemed hundreds of times less important than an hour of staring at Facebook.

I use my phone 24/7. Just because it sits in my pocket doesn't mean it's not useful for that time.

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Anonymous Coward

5 screens sizes

Fragmentation happens. The actual pain caused to me (as a mobile dev) is purely based on how many different screen sizes i have to make for.

Just like with the web in the olden days, you make it work for as many people as possible.

Currently, iPad mini's are really annoying due to their different screen shape (square, not rectangular meaning things dont scale well from a long thing rectanglular iphone 5).

Also mr cook, very few developers work only on iOS "or" Android,

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Re: 5 screens sizes

The iPad Mini has the same 4:3 aspect ratio as the big iPad (and similar to that of most sizes of paper). Though that does still differ from the 16:9 of the latest iPhone and the 3:2 of the previous ones.

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Re: 5 screens sizes

Personally I've found the annoyance of different device and screen aspects and resolutions more annoying on iOS than on Android. Not that the wide range of screen resolutions on Android isn't an issue, but it feels like I have better inbuilt tools to deal with one application and multiple resolutions and ratios than in iOS.

Yes, there are different versions of Android to deal with - currently two main ones unless you want to be cutting edge. But even that's not too hard as you can target the cutting edge and have fallback to the older versions as the support libraries work quite nicely (at times :-) ). It does require testing but if you develop applications properly and cleanly separate functionality from interface (Model - View - Controller) then even if you have entirely different interfaces it is not always that difficult to develop, after all, many of us develop apps that can be operated in landscape or portrait mode and this kind of model is normal to us.

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Re: 5 screens sizes

I agree. It also helps I think that Android was designed from the outset to scale to different sizes, resolutions and aspect ratios. E.g., there are 4 different "sizes" that one can design UIs for, and developers have always known to test for a range of configurations (which can be done in the emulator).

IOS was sold on the idea of "it's easier, because there's only one device to develop for". Unfortunately it's been a slippery slope:

* 2010, ipad. Now two devices, different sizes and aspect ratios, but still claimed better than Android. Okay. Though this led to the myth that on IOS you can develop for two screen sizes separately, despite Android always allowing for 4 screen sizes...

* 2010, iphone finally gets a sensible resolution. Hacked to work by saying applications can just double width and height.

* Various changes to ipad resolutions, leading to increasing number of configurations that need testing.

* 2012, new iphone with different size and a new aspect ratio, leading to "black bars".

* 2012, new ipad with different size.

So now we're at 4 screen sizes, 3 aspect ratios, at least 4 resolutions. And now there are rumours of a 12" ipad on the way...

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wow

According to the bar graph in the second picture, Microsoft's Windows Phone users are more satisfied with their thingies than Android users.

MICROSOFT FAIL FAIL.

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