Facebook figures out unique way to manage Android Fragmentation
Facebook, the most popular mobile app, has figured out a new way to help manage Android fragmentation. Rather than relying on the operating system version, the social media giant will instead target the hardware specifications of the user’s device. This change comes as a result of Facebook seeing that two thirds of Android devices it sees have hardware capabilities equivalent to a device released in 2011 or earlier.
Software Fragmentation Simply Doesn’t Work Anymore
In a recent blog entry, the company stated that it previously would classify Android devices simply by looking at the OS version that they were running. This was done in an effort to ensure that any content or features sent to the device were supported.
Statistics released by Google show that 30.2 percent of Google Play users are running Android 4.4 KitKat, which was released around the same time as iOS 7 for Apple devices last year.
Software fragmentation for Apple is very different. As of now, over 52% of iPhone users are running iOS 8, with 43% using iOS7.
With new releases of Android, Google is working hard to make them more backwards-compatible, thus ensuring that they can run on mobile devices that have slower processors and less RAM. By doing so, however, Google is making the Android software version quite irrelevant to developers of mobile apps, as it can’t be used as an indication of a device’s performance or the features that it is capable of supporting.
A New Way to Categorize Android Devices
There has recently been a surge of affordable Android devices being sold around the world. Even though many of these devices may run the latest version of the Android OS, they don’t have the same specifications as the most recent top of the line smartphones. This is one of the reasons why Facebook has decided to segment devices based on actual phone performance by looking at the amount of RAM, CPU cores and clock speed that each device has.
Facebook then categorizes the devices by “year class,” which is the year that a device with such specifications would be considered the most high end.
Average Android Device is equivalent to iPhone 4 or Galaxy S2
The company has reported that close to two-thirds of all mobile devices which are connected to Facebook use technology that would be equivalent to a device released in 2011 or even before. This means that 66 percent of all Android phones on Facebook have performance specifications that are equivalent to that of an iPhone 4 or Samsung Galaxy S2.
While Facebook notes that comparing Android OS versions can still be useful when determining the reliability of various mobile operating systems, looking into a device’s specifications gives a more accurate picture of how an app’s performance can vary between different smartphones. For example, older devices may not always be able to display pages that contain several video elements smoothly. Now that Facebook takes a device’s capabilities into consideration, it will try to tailor the content displayed by the app to something that more closely matches the phone’s capabilities.
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