Google Must Sweeten Ice Cream Sandwich With Stellar Apps

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-10-19 Print this article Print

Most of these devices will never see an upgrade to Android 4. This means that device makers and carriers will have to either decide to declare an end-of-life support policy for devices as they age, or they will have to suffer supporting a vast array of Android devices for a long, unpleasant future.

Unfortunately, upgrades for Android devices have been somewhat of a mixed bag. While there have been a lot of important upgrades along the way, major upgrades for Android have come at a glacial pace. One reason for this is that Android devices run on so many different hardware platforms and each one has to have its own upgrade. Another reason is that carriers have to approve each upgrade, and this can take awhile and may never happen.

What this means is that Android 4 may become a unified mobile OS for future devices, but it's unlikely to do much for devices that are actually in the field already. In the immediate future, this will make for a more complex environment for those who need to support these devices. In the long run, it will make devices on older versions of Android less desirable, and it will give users a reason to upgrade to a new device. Device makers and carriers may find that the sale of new devices offsets the cost of supporting older devices.

What will probably matter most is whether ICS offers users more bang for the buck than previous versions of Android. While the cool new features such as facial recognition (if it works) and voice typing (assuming that works) will be nice, what will matter more are things like ease of use, value for the dollar and software support. A bright shiny new operating system with no applications won't spur sales.

The lack of stellar applications is part of why Honeycomb devices are selling at a less-than-spectacular rate. While there are lots of nice applications out there for Android devices, there aren't that many designed specifically for Honeycomb and many of the Android applications designed for older platforms really don't work as well as they should on tablets.

The existence of a single application platform for both tablets and phones should help spur development for both types of devices, assuming they support both types of devices equally well. Users still don't like seeing a tiny application in the middle of their tablet's screen, nor is anyone impressed by a stretched-out image of something designed for a phone. If Google can solve that problem by creating a stable unified market for applications, then Ice Cream Sandwich will provide users with something they already need. That should help make it a success.


Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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