10 Critical Android Issues Google Needs to Address Soon

News Analysis: Android is the world's top mobile operating system, but it isn't perfect. Google needs to address a number of issues related to the operating system's security, usability and accessibility to continue to gain ground in the mobile market.

Although it got off to a bit of a slow start, Google's Android mobile operating system has caught its stride. In 2010, it was the most desired operating system in the world, and according to most analysts, the platform will dominate the mobile market for the foreseeable future. All other competitors, including Apple, Research In Motion and Microsoft, will have no other choice but to pick up the scraps.

Considering that, there isn't much that Google should be upset about in the mobile market right now. When it's all said and done, the more market share a company has, the better. And considering that Google is so heavily invested in advertising, the search giant could make boatloads of cash off its platform.

But that doesn't mean there aren't issues related to Android that Google won't eventually need to address. The mobile operating system is an outstanding choice for many consumers, but there areglaring problems with Android that are simply impossible to ignore.

Read on to learn more:

1. The fragmentation is real

Google likes to downplay the Android "fragmentation" issue in which mobile device manufacturers are releasing new products for the multiple concurrent versions of the Android OS. It's a major issue for software developers who have to support all these versions, and it's time that Google acknowledged it. In a recent study, Baird Research found that developers are especially concerned with Android fragmentation. In fact, 24 percent of respondents said it is a "huge problem," while 33 percent of developers said it is a "meaningful problem." Only 14 percent of respondents said it isn't a problem at all. If that's not a good enough reason for Google to start reducing Android fragmentation, what is?

2. The update process is a pain

As Android owners know all too well, getting an update to their smartphone is a pain. A user of a particular Android device may have to wait (and wait) for her turn to get the software, while her friend with a different device might already be running the latest version of the operating system. When Apple releases an update to its operating system, it's available to all customers that day. Granted, Apple's process is simpler, since it doesn't need to worry about multiple device manufacturers and the modifications those companies might be making to the operating system. But for Apple customers, it's a much easier process. The time has come for Google to work with vendor partners to streamline the update process.

3. There must be better consumer education

Android is undoubtedly a fine operating system that consumers around the world are happy to use. But Google just hasn't done a good enough job of informing the public on the differences between the versions of its operating system. Sure, Android 2.3 might seem like a better option than Android 2.2 by virtue of the fact that it's newer, but what are the relative advantages of each version that's currently on the market? Those who follow Android closely know, but the average, mainstream user who simply buys a phone and wants a good operating system needs to be better informed.

4. Solving the iPhone problem

If sales figures are one's guide, it's clear thatAndroid is more desirable than iOS. But that's not the full story. It's important to keep in mind that Android is running on devices from many major vendors. Apple's iOS platform is running on the iPhone and the iPad. Despite its wide use, it's hard to find a single Android-based smartphone that can match the iPhone in terms of overall popularity. The Motorola Droid X is a fine device, but it's not an iPhone. The same can be said for HTC's line of Android smartphones. It's about time Google finds a way to offer a smartphone that can finally supplant the iPhone as the top mobile device in the marketplace.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...