The Future of Android

Jake the Dog Android logoAndroid is the most popular operating system for phones and tablets. It might not seem that way when your hanging out at Starbucks, but Android beats out Apple’s iOS in terms of sheer numbers. This makes sense. Even though Apple products are insanely popular, Android runs on a variety of hardware while iOS is limited to Apple devices. (In many ways, this mimics Microsoft Windows’ position on the PC market. No matter how many Macs you see at the coffee shop, Windows is the workhorse of the business world.) Android will likely play a big role in the future of computing, so the question is, what will that future look like?

An Open Source Project

Unlike Windows or iOS, Android is not owned by one company. Google is behind the platform, but the software itself sits atop an open source Linux kernel and developed by a trade organization called the Open Handset Alliance. In addition, the user interface is often customized and replaced by handset manufacturers. That means that, unlike Windows, there is no single force behind the operating system’s evolution. There is no Microsoft pushing a single interface. The Android operating system is fragmented, and this makes its future hard to predict.

Android Fragmentation

What do I mean when I say that Android is fragmented? Because the operating system is “tweaked” to run on so many different devices, upgrades can be a logistical nightmare. Different manufacturers have differing levels of support, so many devices are stuck running older versions of the OS. Or heavily customized versions that don’t play well with the “stock” Android. This means that certain software only works with certain hardware, fragmenting the market. This is a big problem for developers and consumers alike. Still, the sheer number of Android devices out there means that the platform isn’t going away any time soon, regardless of how fragmented it may get.

What’s your experience with Android devices, and what do you think the future holds? Let me know in the comment section.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer, photographer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at http://steve-lovelace.com.

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