Opinions on fragmentation on iOS

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by milamber, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. milamber macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2008
    First off, if you're a troll or interested in a flame war please feel free to leave.

    I've always had issue with people calling android fragmented when I feel like iOS is the same just in a more subtle way. I suspect iOS fragmentation isn't as bad as android but it is still there. The vast majority of my friends who have iPhone aren't always up to the latest software as some don't even ever plug in their iPhones to iTunes so will never be up to date. Even myself, as a bit of a nerd, am not on 4.2. Although this is mainly out of choice i.e. wanting to keep my untethered jailbreak, isn't the fact that I'm not on the latest software version mean that I'm part of the fragmentation?

    Software aside, if everyone WAS on 4.2 I still think there is a degree of fragmentation in hardware side too. I remember Jobs saying something about an android developer having to develop for the many different android versions but isn't this also true of iOS? I'm not a developer so someone feel free to correct me. I have experienced situations where I have an awesome app on the iPhone 4, only for the app to run ok on the 3GS and really badly on the 3G. I know this is old hardware but isn't this an argument against Android that is so often used?

    In my eyes I see the mobile world becoming more and more like the computing world. There are (literally) hundreds of operating systems being used around the world. Some of this is out of choice (like those who still use XP), some out of necessity (like those who's systems don't meet minimum requirements). No one really complains in the computing world when their system can't run the latest game or whatever but this may be because of the relentlessly rapid pace mobile development is at.

    Again, I'm not looking for a flame war or trolling. Just looking for some opinions whether or not you think iOS is fragmented.

    Lets assume (whether rightly or wrongly) that we all know that android is more fragmented than iOS, so we can take that out of the question and have a nice discussion just about iOS :)
  2. ReallyBigFeet, Dec 19, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010

    ReallyBigFeet macrumors 68030


    Apr 15, 2010
    Since you are soliciting opinions....

    For iOS devices you've got:

    Original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4
    iPod Touch (I've lost track of how many....4?)

    That's 9 devices, although with the iPod Touch they are virtually identical to the same-gen iPhone's minus the phone and GPS circuitry. But lets leave them as distinctly different for purposes of this exercise.

    Now of course you've got variances in iOS versions across these 9 devices but I don't know any stats on that.

    In the Android world, we KNOW from all the hoopla surrounding fragmentation that some studies have been done and found that about 40% of the Android population is running the LAST generation of the OS (2.1), with another 43% running the CURRENT generation (2.2 Froyo). I just bought a Samsung Fascinate and it came out of the box with 2.1, indicating a common theme here is that the handset manufacturers control the OS pipeline (just like Apple does) but that they aren't unified in their approach to OS continuity. They also are free to shove their own UI/Launcher onto the devices and often do, making for some other issues when it comes to fragmentation. I get my data from here if you want to research this further.

    I think the issue with Android is a bit of trying to manage their own success. Apparently, the market was desperate for an OS that could rival that on the iPhone. The handset makers were more than willing to embrace an open-source OS that would allow them the freedom to focus on hardware specs. This isn't that different from Apple's own approach...they focus on hardware first, then software to drive it. HTC, LG, Samsung, etc all just said "screw it, we'll take the Android OS and outsource our OS engineering to Google." Unfortunately, that puts the hardware guys on one side of the fence and the software guys on the opposite side of the fence, with little synchronized behaviors between the two. At Apple, the software and hardware guys all report to the same product managers so you've got a synchronized effort. Android has no "product manager" managing the market introduction of new devices....its a highly decentralized affair and it shows.

    But even with the Android OS fragmentation issues pulled out of the equation, I think a picture is worth a thousand words. THIS is what the list of Android powered devices looks like....with new ones being introduced almost monthly:

    Attached Files:

  3. matrix07 macrumors 601


    Jun 24, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Tell your friends to plug their phone to itunes. Problem solved. Lol
  4. MistaBungle macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2005
    I thought the main point in the fragmentation argument was basically this:

    iOS: 3 new devices a year made by same company that makes iOS. An iPhone, iPad and iPod. The size of the device does not matter.

    Android: X new devices a year made by X companies that do not make Android. Phones with different CPU, ram and different displays.

    The disconnect between hardware and software makers creates this problem because everyone is 'not on the same page'.

    From my understanding, this is why fragmentation does not apply to iOS.
  5. ulbador macrumors 68000


    Feb 11, 2010
    I find it difficult to call iOS fragmented at all. iOS runs on what, a dozen devices if you count all the revisions? And the differences between many of the devices is often pretty minimal, at least to the general developer. On the other hand, Android has probably been released on a dozen devices this month.

    On Android, this fragmentation causes all sorts of problems. The screen sizes are different, which means wildly different resolutions that can't be ratioed, different devices can have hugely different capabilities from hardware keyboards, trackballs and everything else. Different vendors install crapware and modify the OS in ways that can cause huge incompatibilities.

    How often have you installed or tried to install an app from the App Store and had it fail? Probably pretty rarely. And most of the time if it does fail, it is because the developer wasn't paying attention when they compiled the App and forgot to set the target of the lower iOS version. Which means fixing it just usually means upgrading a minor iOS version. Of course there are exceptions to this. So you are unable to run Infinity Blade on your iPhone 3G or a GPS app on a 2G. That's a bit of the price of progress, but that's hardly any level of significant fragmentation.

    When I had a myTouch 3G for a while, I constantly ran into apps I couldn't run, because my phone lacked X or Y feature or didn't run 2.0. Of course this was 6 months after the release of the phone and TMobile made the determination to stop releasing updates for the phone software for anything after 1.5, which meant I either could never run 2.0, or I ran a custom hacked Cyanogen rom.

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