Google's Gesture Search feature for Android smartphones reignited the complaint about fragmentation and inconsistency among Google's mobile operating system platform because it only works on devices running Android 2.0 or greater, such as the Motorola Droid and Google Nexus One. Laptop Magazine's Mark Spoonauer said this means Google is favoring newer versions of its OS, punishing owners of devices running older flavors of Android, as well as Google's partners. Kevin Tofel tried to diffuse the situation by arguing that Google isn't the only mobile platform maker that faces this quandary.
its Google Gesture Search feature for Android smartphones March 3, it fanned the flames of a long-standing complaint about fragmentation and
inconsistency among Google's mobile operating system platform.
Google Gesture Search, which lets users surface contacts
and applications on their devices by tracing letters on the screen with their
fingers, works on smartphones running versions Android 2.0 or higher.
This means that while owners of the Android 2.-based Motorola
Droid and Android 2.1-based Google Nexus One can enjoy the feature, users of
HTC Droid Eris
and the Motorola Backflip
cannot because those devices are based on Android 1.5.
Gesture isn't the only feature or app to roll out in such
a discriminating fashion. Google launched
Google Maps Navigation turn-by-turn GPS directions last October on
Android 2.0 devices such as the Droid, while
Google Buzz for mobile
was similarly made available on Android 2.0-plus devices
one month ago.
Laptop Magazine's Mark Spoonauer
said this means Google is favoring the newer versions of its OS, noting that
this "unfairly punishes both owners of devices running older flavors of
Android, as well as Google's partners." Spoonauer added
"What shoppers can't have-at least for the moment-is
the best of both worlds. Why shouldn't a Droid Eris or myTouch 3G be able to
use Google Buzz or Gesture Search? And why is it taking so long for handset
makers to upgrade their wares to the latest OS? Diversity can be a good thing
for consumer choice, but shoppers shouldn't have to choose between a slicker UI
and being able to take advantage of Google's latest features."
However, a Google spokesperson explained that Google isn't
alone in deciding what app is available
for what platforms and devices. Google's OEM and carrier partners have
something to do with this.
all Android phones are managed devices," the Google spokesperson
explained. "Google operates the other-the-air server for devices branded
"with Google" or "Google" (as with the Nexus One). However,
it is not at Google's sole discretion to issue software updates. Our partners,
such as OEMs and operators, decide in the majority of cases when and what
updates to issue to their customers."
Kevin Tofel, who writes for the popular mobile blog JKOnTheRun, defended Google
and countered Spoonauer by arguing that Google isn't the only mobile platform maker that
faces this quandary.