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Google now requires device manufacturers using the Ice Cream Sandwich version of its Android operating system to use its native code in a bid to curb fragmentation complications.

Google announced yesterday that devices running the Ice Cream Sandwich version of the OS will be required to include its native Holo theme, a set of code that effects how apps appear on screen, as a default setting. 

The update means that devices using the Ice Cream Sandwich version of the OS will also have to include the Holo themes if they are to have access to the platform’s app store Android Market.

Adam Powell, an Android framework engineer at Google, explained the update via a post on the official Android developer blog, adding that the updates will improve time-to-market for brands looking to launch Android apps.

Google is treading a fine line between ensuring that the Android ecosystem remains both open to all sections of the market, from ad networks to device manufacturers, while not falling prey to fragmentation. After all, fragmentation is essentially what killed-off the once ubiquitous Symbian platform. Plus anything that improve time-to-market for developers can only improve experience of the platform. Ronan Shields

He further added that the developments were made to make it easier for developers to predict how their apps will appear on different devices using the Android OS.

“In Android 4.0, Holo is different. We’ve made the inclusion of the unmodified Holo theme family a compatibility requirement for devices running Android 4.0 and forward. If the device has Android Market it will have the Holo themes as they were originally designed,” read the post.

“This standardization[sic] goes for all of the public Holo widget styles as well. The Widget.Holo styles will be stable from device to device, safe for use as parent styles for incremental customizations[sic] within your app.”

The sheer number of manufacturers launching devices using Android, among them HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, has led to complications in developing apps for the platform.

This has, in part, stemmed from different manufacturers tailoring the open source OS to their own specifications in a bid to distinguish themselves in the increasingly crowded Android handset sector. This in turn has added complications for app developers to judge how their apps will appear across devices.

However, Google’s Powell also noted that it did not want to completely restrict how device manufacturers customised their devices using the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android, adding that Google had also introduced updates making it easier to integrate the native Holo themes with device manufacturer’s bespoke themes.

“These changes let you spend more time on your design and less time worrying about what will be different from one device to another,” read the post. “Finally, Android’s resource system allows you to support features from the latest platform version while offering graceful fallback on older devices,” concluded Powell.


Published 4 January, 2012 by NMA Staff

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