The Hunt for Defragmentationism Begins
10 November 2013
First I have to say I was disappointed when Google surprisingly changed the name of their new Android 4.4 operating system at the last minute from ‘Key Lime Pie’ to ‘Kit Kat’. For those that do not know all of their versions have been named after a tasty sweet since 2009 (namely in Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jellybean)
My simplistic logic was by using the name key lime pie it would bring this amazing dessert more to prominence and if it only meant one more physical key lime pies in the world (and who doesn’t love key lime pie ) then that would be a good thing. Alas I’m over it now.
The news as Google has said is that the new android version Kit Kat will be backwards compatible with older mobile phone hardware than ever due to the requirements of less memory been required to run the operating system. Mainly where many smart android phones have 1-4GB ram memory, the new lower spec means a phone with 512MB of ram will now be compatible, in most cases.
What remains to be answered though is if this will cause new problems. Likely yes, some seen some not.
Google has a problem in the marketplace to some extent with ‘fragmentation’ and always has had. That is because there are so many new phone models every few weeks or months and google unlike Microsoft and Apple does not manage the hardware, each phone was not necessarily compatible with the latest OS perhaps only the one previously or before. Oddly, this means 3 different phones purchased in the same store on the same today, might have 4 different operating systems, (gingerbread, jellybean, or honeycomb, or even ice cream sandwich).
Operating systems are partly Google, the handset manufacturer and phone carrier’s responsibility. Crazier still, the same exact model phone supporting one carrier can often be on a different version of Android than the other. This makes supporting the device, product clarity for the consumer, and developing new apps for the devices ‘fragmented’ in the marketplace.
Apple or Windows makes updates mandatory on new phones or makes the phones obsolete, to manage this continuity. So, Google is fixing this by making the specification level required for Android 4.4 Kit Kat, lower so 4.4 is compatible with more phones, thus less fragmentation.
The desktop operating system is similar where the new Apple 10.9 Mavericks and Windows 7, required lower specifications or offered more backward compatibility for consumers and business to upgrade.
In the case of Windows 7, whilst its predecessor Windows Vista might not run on a certain Windows XP machine or do so very poorly, Windows 7 in many cases would run and work well.
There you could run Windows 7 on all the machines even windows XP that would not run vista, and not sacrifice anything.
In the case of Apple iPhones some devices that would not be supported with a new mobile operating system iOS, means you would buy have to buy a new iPhone.
With Google lowering the specification for Kit Kat though, the trouble there is many applications make better use of more than 512mb ram, and some phones might suffer with Kit Kat or might not get the update at all, adding another layer of fragmentation to the confusing mix, that is running the new OS but not very well, or with less features.
In most of these cases the OS (Google Android), the hardware manufacturer, and carrier might not release the update. Unfortunately the update is good, so demand will be high internally at Google and by the consumer. Many consumers already use updates bypassing these steps getting their updates (ROMs) online quite easily. It remains to be seen if the attempt to reduce fragmentation causes more problems than it fixes.