14 Dec Mobile Platform Fragmentation – What it is and how we deal with it at Engage Mobile
A big key to the user experience for any mobile app or responsive website is for users to have a uniform experience across devices. This is difficult, especially for Google Android devices, due to mobile platform fragmentation.
Mobile platform fragmentation is a phenomenon that occurs when some mobile users are running older versions of an operating system or hardware, while other users are running newer versions.
According to TechCrunch, “Android’s fragmentation has become a giant millstone for Android app development, leaving it worryingly behind its iOS equivalent. It’s not the panoply of screen sizes and formats; the Android layout engine is actually quite good at minimizing that annoyance. It’s not the frequent instances of completely different visual behavior on two phones running exactly the same version of Android; again, annoying, but relatively minor. Device fragmentation is just an irritation.
OS fragmentation, though, is an utter disaster.”
Right now, there are not only over a half dozen versions of the Android operating systems being used across the world, but each carrier customizes each version of the Android operating system for their phones – for example, the Android software on a Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone is different from the exact same device sold by AT&T. The operating system fragmentation, combined with the dozens of different screen sizes offered by dozens of different manufacturers leads to thousands of different permutations of android devices.
While fragmentation is much less of an issue with Apple devices, there still multiple iOS operating systems and screen sizes..
As you can see in the chart below, for iOS devices (Apple iPhone and iPad) over 90% of users are using the most current version of the iOS operating system and 99% of users are on the current version or the previous version.
Android is much more fragmented – the version of Android released foury ears ago still represents nearly 14% of the use base. There are five version of Android with over 10% market share and none of the versions represent more than 21% of the market (note that this does not take into account the fact that every manufacturer customizes each version of the Android operating for their own devices).
How do we make sure Engage Mobile’s software (both apps and responsive websites) works on all of them? While we clearly don’t have every iteration of every phone from every carrier, we spend a lot of time testing software across different devices to make sure the user experience is consistent across devices. We have dedicated testing teams that are trained in testing methodologies and follow customized and systematic testing plans for each of our clients.
At the top of this page is a photo from our conference room – it is a picture of the latest phones, tablets and phablets (phone/tablet hybrid) offered by Apple, Samsung and Amazon – we test across these devices and many more. We are far from perfect but we test a lot.
At Engage Mobile we are relentless about testing – making sure we are testing on both the latest devices and older devices from major manufacturers.
Contact us to learn more about how we utilize testing to make sure our products meet the needs of our clients.