Android is an operating system from the stables of Google and has to be taken seriously by the developer and user community. With the release of Android 3 named Honeycomb, there seems to be significant change in Google’s design philosophy. This I suspect may be due to several reasons. Besides the look and feel of Android 3, there is a fork in the development of Android for tablets and that for Smartphone.
The fork in the tale
Everyone knows that Matias Duarte, the designer of WebOS while working in palm, had joined Google as part of Android design team. At that time I had the inkling that something is going to change drastically. Remember that Duarte is essentially a tablet guy and developers or designers on a certain device seldom move out of their shell – it is some kind of a comfort zone. It is therefore not at all surprising that Android 3 has been exclusively designed for tablets. Obviously, the form factor has been the deciding factor. As a result, Smartphones continue to work on Android 2.x version while tablets move on to Android3.x.
If you look at the market today, Motorola Xoom (which is a tablet), runs on Android 3. Arguably all future developments would be riding on Android 3.x. At the same time, Samsung Galaxy tab and S (Smartphone) run on the same OS i.e. Android 2.x. Now will Samsung embrace Android 3 for its tablet? I am not sure. If I were a developer at Samsung I would go for a base OS. This is where Google has to make sure that there is no divergence in views.
Is Android 3 a personal whim of an individual developer?
It has happened in the past and it could very well have happened now. Given the background of Duarte, it is no wonder that he steered the development towards a direction which he knew well – tablets. Personality issues cannot be ruled out here. If it were a quirk of an individual, I would be disappointed and alarmed. What happens to the overall Android philosophy? Are we going to see different versions of Android in different devices? This would be suicide.
What could have been other reasons for different versions?
Form factor is certainly one reason. Tablet has a lot more real estate to play with, while Smartphones have very little leg space. Android 3 looks great, with its space -crafty, soft neon look. But other than the user interface and multitasking there is nothing new here. Now for example, if there is a need to develop Android for your refrigerator, where there is virtually no interface, which version of Android will you choose?
The direction which Google has taken seems dangerous. As a developer and designer I would prefer to create a uniform platform for all devices. I don’t think it is difficult to layer settings to suit individual devices. By doing this Google would have saved a lot of money and effort. Only time will tell, whether I am right or wrong. I hope I am wrong.
This article has been written by Nitin Aggarwal from Offshore Ally. He is a tech geek and a blogger. His company is the house of many talented virtual assistant and SEO link builders. Connect with him via Twitter.