Is Android N starting to fix fragmentation?

by: John DyeMarch 10, 2016
1.3K

best games like minecraft on android

Did you ever run a Minecraft server? It probably started off small and vanilla with just a few of your friends playing the unaltered version of Minecraft. As time went on, however, you wanted to make the server feel more like your own. You wanted there to be unique rules to guide your players’ behavior, cool features that other Minecraft servers didn’t offer, and a certain flavor that really made your server a joy to live and play in. So you began adding mods. (Hang in there, because I swear this relates to Android N and the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem.)

Then Mojang would push out a new update to Minecraft and of course all of your mods would crash. Either you or all of the mod developers would have to scramble to patch everything back into the new version of Minecraft, and depending on the size of the update, this could be a tedious, months-long process. This led to a lot of frustrated devs and server admins urging Mojang to integrate modding API into the core game.

Android N logo 2

Well, if what we’re looking at with Android N is accurate, it looks as though they may be doing something pretty similar. The fragmentation of the Android ecosystem is an oft-talked about problem that causes irritated app developers, dangerously outdated security issues, and glacially slow rollout times for new versions of Android (we’re looking at you, Marshmallow, get your act together).

What Android N appears to do is effectively break Android into two distinct pieces: a backstage and a front stage. The backstage is Google-crafted and would be the same across all devices, but the front stage is totally customizable, allowing different brands to deliver the kind of feel and experience their users are accustomed to receiving. Moto still gets to have its Moto Display, Samsung can still integrate Blocking Mode, and Lenovo can put whatever they want on the lock screen. That’s all part of the front stage, the experience that is on display.

android n preview logoSee also: (Update: official!) Android N features: everything confirmed, rumored and expected283

The deeper roots of Android would control things like the nuts and bolts that actually make the operating system work. Things like security fall into this category, meaning individual companies would no longer have to worry as much about keeping up with Google’s monthly security updates. Google just adds the patch to the backstage, and everything on display just keeps trucking.

Android N quick settings

This is a distinctly different view of Android than what we’re currently looking at. Right now, it’s much more of a single piece. When Google releases a new version of Android, smartphone makers and carriers have to haul their butts to rework all of their software, sometimes from the ground up. This is why rollouts for new versions of Android are so slow, and it’s why so many devices get left behind. The manpower simply doesn’t exist to push all of these changes through for every single impacted device, for every brand, on every carrier.

If what we’re looking at is true – and it should be noted that Android N is so Alpha right now that it could intimidate the crap out of a pack of bodybuilders – then this could have massive ramifications for the overall fragmentation of the OS. By making the appearance and app-handling aspects of Android distinct from the core, inner workings, Google could be making the operating system much, much easier to update. This would save manpower, money, time, and frustration across the board.

Google has said nothing official about what appears to be an attempt to solve fragmentation, so we’ll have to wait for future releases over the coming months to confirm this impression. In the meantime, let us know your take on Android N and the fragmentation of Android in the comments below.

  • Ryan Weber

    Seemed appropriate…

  • Satongi

    just think about cyanogenmod14 custimization…

    • Simos Katsiaris

      Dude, the front end is layers build on top of rro, the cyanogen theme engine breaks it lol

  • Finally!

  • Juan S. Camargo Visbal

    How did you discovered this?

    • Vinicius Lima Silva

      Maybe looking at AOSP code

      • Juan S. Camargo Visbal

        Sure, but I’m curious about the technical aspects of their findings.

        • Shivam Kumar

          Those are the technical aspects of the findings… *sigh*

          • Juan S. Camargo Visbal

            Like, where in the code….. Because it really sounds like speculation at this point.

          • alvareo

            No they’re not. This article has no source or explanation whatsoever to back that claim. The point of tech blogs isn’t “look at the code to understand what the hell we’re talking about”, but to present their findings.

        • alvareo

          Saw an article that I can’t find, I think it was on Android Police, saying that N seems to put more things in the OEM folder which would suggest Android would be shipped ‘untouched’ and OEMs, including Google (let’s remember what’s known as “stock Android” has closed-source Google modifications), will put things in that folder, which would modify the untouched OS. The article DID say it was speculation, but that it could be likely.

  • Total Faith

    Not existing God. This could stop crApple users laugh about the way Android updates get out nowadays!

    • Shivam Kumar

      Those are the same Apple fanboys that don’t know shit about the Nexus program. So they will pretty much just keep bitching.

  • Diego Opazo SV-Cross

    The fragmentation is most noticeable issue regarding Android. I’m hoping you are right.

  • Diego

    And how are we going to get devices to android N?

    • Jon H

      If it’s easier to update phones to android N as it says in this article then I’d assume carriers would start releasing updates to android N on as many devices as they can.

  • Jimbo

    There is no way that manufacturers are going to give up the ability to modify lower-level parts of the OS, and no way that Google integrates all of the security fixes from other manufacturers (like grsec from BlackBerry, etc.).

    • Evan Willis

      They might not have a choice. Android is owned by Google, not the manufacturers, and Google couldn’t care less if the manufacturers leave it. Google is a company that makes most of its money off ad revenue on the internet

      • BiteMe

        Android is open source, Google has zero say in what the manufacturers do with it. The only time Google can dictate anything to the manufacturers is when they include Google Services. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that google doesn’t need manufacturers like Samsung or LG. The majority of smartphone sold with the android OS are non nexus devices. If the manufacturers didn’t use Google Services then Google would lose a major source of ad and app revenue. Look at Amazon tablets, they don’t include Google Services yet their OS is still based on the Android OS. Google makes far less money because the play store isn’t included and the ads you see are from amazon.

        • Evan Willis

          Yeah, but who the hell would buy an Android phone without Google services?

          • Salmando (a.k.a ‘Bleh’)

            Sadly not everyone is aware that android isn’t always google enriched.

          • Evan Willis

            I don’t think you give phone users enough credit. I mean, most demo models at least have the Google folder on the home page

          • Salmando (a.k.a ‘Bleh’)

            I mean that most people buying a device would usually know if it is android – but would likely be quite surprised if playstore, maps, etc… wasn’t pre-installed on the phone.

            I was annoyed as hell when i found that playstore wasn’t a default app on a rom i once installed. Really inconvenient to install if you don’t have another app downloader.

        • hendrix sena

          But in android marshmallow Google put their for down and said no OEM would put their hands on doze mode in any way.

  • John Doe

    If they can find away to make everybody happy then I say ‘Go For It’!!

  • Richard Riker

    Hah, that just sounds to be too good to be true. It would be great if every device from N up would be up to date for years, no matter if it’s the highest end flagship or the lowest end thingie that at least runs google stuff. But as long as this isn’t proven to be comming and to be working, I’ll stay sceptical. I’ll hope for the best but assume the worst.

  • asdasdasdasd

    This sounds like a made up assumption

    • Reed

      Android is open source so you can go see for yourself just like the author of the article did. Your comment is an assumption.

      • Juan S. Camargo Visbal

        An article has to present some sort of real evidence, that’s journalism.

        The term ‘this sounds like’ is the commenter saying it’s an assumption.

  • AbbyZFresh

    Not gonna happen as long as manufacturers continue to skin and bloat android with design features that dilute from stock.

    • Reed

      Reread the article. That doesn’t matter if this article is true.

    • LethalLunatic

      Some might stick to Vanilla as much as possible or come up with minor mods.

    • yann933

      This is true, but it seems that what the author is trying to call the “Front End” is more like RRO Layers, I guess he’s trying to say that with N, OEM’s will start using RRO to apply their skins to Android. I don’t think this will happen for one reason, RRO has been in Android since Lollipop, and in Marshmallow, it got official support. I haven’t seen any OEM’s using it thus far, and it seems the only use for it now is Layers themes. But honestly, if manufacturers like Samsung and LG, took an approach of adding on to Stock Android through the Play Store, fragmentation would almost be solved. I think the reason Stock Android exists is to create a clean slate for Android. OEM’s should use Stock Android, and then add their features through the Play Store, that way purists can get rid of the bloat, and power users can have the features they desire, and not mention faster updates. Everybody Wins!

      • Richard Riker

        As long as Google does not force them to do so and make the updates themself this will never happen. Why should they put updates out, just release a new phone with the new version and done….
        At least that’s how I see them, especially Samsung.

  • Mark Coleman

    This article was posted too soon – it’s not April 1st yet.

    • Jack Silsan

      XD

  • Byron Poindexter

    This is long overdue. I hope they put it in N.

  • Jack Silsan

    Now I want to taste even more the Neapolitan/Nutella, specially in a Xperia device

    • Jon H

      The obvious choice here being Nougat.

      • Jack Silsan

        Nougat is just a good bet right now, just like Neapolitan and Nutella

        • Evan Willis

          Nerds

          • Jack Silsan

            cuzão

      • Shivam Kumar

        “Be together, not the same”
        Sounds like neopolitan.

      • Dakoda Koziol

        I thought that it was gonna be Nutroll, but strangely no one has even thought about that option.

  • Sun Sand

    If Google Comes forth and States this is True -I am going to have a Party!!

    • Diego Opazo SV-Cross

      I’ll go.

  • MUTINOUS

    “Android N is so Alpha right now that it could intimidate the crap out of a pack of bodybuilders”

  • shernjr

    when this comes to fruition will it allow my Xperia Z1 to update to Android N, or is that up to Sony ?

    • Richard Riker

      if something like that will actually happen, then I think it’s mor likely you get struck by lightning before the Z1 will get N officially by Sony…twice

  • trwb

    When are we going to have a real alternative to Android and iOS. That’s the real question. Little competition is what makes manufacturers and carriers dump all over us, even though we give them tons of cash. Google only cares about updates because we are their product if you think about it.

    • Reed

      Android is its own competitor. You are free to take its source and essentially build your own OS completely free of anything Google related.

      Android won mobile like Windows won desktop, the difference being Android’s open source nature, which is good for users. In theory, someone could come along and build a new version of Android superior to Google’s and beat them at their own game.

      • trwb

        Yes this is true. I was hoping cyanogenmod inc wouldn’t have turned out the way they did. Hopefully they can change direction. Someone could just take a linux distro though and make it touch and mobile friendly. Linux already has repositories.

  • Vincentius Phang

    sounds like a utopia. in the it’s still up to manufacturer to update it or not. but this is equally as important as battery life.

    • Salmando (a.k.a ‘Bleh’)

      If done correctly, android itself could update its core features without having to wait for the manufacturers to make any modifications to their ‘layer’.

  • Mojo Jojo

    Great!

  • Np

    Always thought of Google making this happen! Hope N does that !

  • yes

    The main slogan for android fragmentation “be together, not the same” isnt actually cool, huh… Google?

    • John

      Equivocation . Learn to think.

  • Mail carrier

    Just loaded N on my Nexus 6 against all advice last night (It’s my long weekend so if it crashes I can be back on M before Monday). Really like the new features, screen rotation w apps ala Apple, split screen, it’s all working as glitch free as can be expected out of a developer preview. Screen color seems a little “off”, I played with adjusting it in settings but I can live with that.

    • Richard Riker

      “screen rotation w apps ala Apple”…have I missed something? Wasn’t it alway possible? Or do you mean the launcher now can be rotatet to landscape mode?

      • Mail carrier

        Can rotate to landscape mode, site won’t let me upload screenshot.

    • BiteMe

      Don’t you mean ala Samsung?

      • Mail carrier

        No, only have had one Samsung Galaxy S3 that had landscape for the icons and it was rooted w (I think) Liquid Smooth OS years ago. Whether newer ones have landscape or not I have no idea. Only other bug that is kind of annoying is the OS makes my widgets disappear. The apps are still there in the app drawer, so it’s all good. Facebook app likes to force close sometimes. Other than being a battery hog, which I kind of expected, I like the N preview and looking forward to the polished final version!

  • Naga Tudor

    If google can force them to preload their apps why cant they force them to do this?

    • 1213 1213

      To do what?

    • m-p{3}

      Because some manufacturers might think Google is pushing too hard and fork Android like FireOS.

      • Evan Willis

        Why not just make Android closed source, except for custom Roms?

        • Salmando (a.k.a ‘Bleh’)

          I’d prefer Google to have closed source freely useable ‘core’ program that receives security and feature updates from google, then allow the manufacturers to build upon that core with there own features.

          In a perfect world, the manufacturers wouldn’t be allowed to lock any of their ‘features’ either – but that will never happen… for some reason. Not sure if samsung actually gain from people using its own software or not.

  • Rodney Whitfield

    It’s the Nougat. Of the OS.

  • S.K James

    The article was such a joke, I had to drop it in the Pocket and listen to it instead of reading. #notapril1styet

  • coopere

    Wish Google would do this. Then all users have to is update their favorite OEM UX and features when its pushed to their device.

  • Manol Chalakov

    This article makes no sense…maybe just another clickbait.

  • Alex Bell

    The problem is that google shouldn’t allow phone makers to customize phones. They should come bloatware free, with links to download loaders and widgets etc from app store.