Is Android development getting easier?

The biggest problem with Google’s open-source software, has always been that it’s open-source.

Fantastic for customisability, adding new features, but ends up on hundreds of variations of hardware devices. Different screen sizes, different processors... It’s exhausting enough to write about, let alone develop!

However, considering Android has a 70% worldwide smartphone shipment rate (according to IDC in Q4 2012) it’s important that developers support the platform, although many firms had to test over 400 different devices, which is a rather time-hogging process I'm sure you can imagine.

This year the number has been quartered, giving thanks to Samsung’s mighty hand in the component market. Due to many manufacturers (including nemesis Apple) using parts by the Korean-based firm, hardware has been standardised using the same components.

In 2012, Samsung was the world’s biggest manufacturer of NAND Flash (31 percent), DRAM (38 percent), and display components (25 percent).

Screen sizes are also not so much of an issue; despite some crazy anomalies, the 4” display size is considered “normal” and accounts for 80%, with PPI’s > 200 accounting for 64% of those.

But it’s not just the hardware that’s gradually making life easier for developers; the latest Android OS is becoming available on more devices than ever before.

Statistically-speaking Gingerbread is still the most popular release at 38% market share, according to Google. However, this appears to be from users of old handsets refusing to upgrade.

Ever since Google’s release of their PDK (Platform Development Kit) alongside “Jelly Bean”, manufacturers have two months in advance to optimise the OS for their devices ready for release.

Many of the latest handsets have been upgradable to the latest OS within a much shorter period.

Are you finding Android development easier than before? Do you think there’s anything Google could be doing to make the experience even more streamlined?

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