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Android Fragmentation: More OS Versions, More Headaches for Developers, QA, and IT Teams (Part 3)

By Josh Galde | August 27, 2013

CATEGORIES: Mobile Quality
Android-fragmentation

Welcome to part 3 of a 4 part series on Android fragmentation. In a recent article in ‘Search Consumerization’, Margaret Jones covered this issue and how it has really become a major challenge for anyone developing apps or websites for the mobile platform. Developers and QA teams have had to purchase hundreds of devices to perform localized testing on a real device to see how it would perform. While it can be useful if you have just a few, it can certainly drive up cost as well as drive down efficiency as you are having to ship devices around the world to a variety of teams who need to test. Since the introduction of remote, cloud-based testing platforms such as DeviceAnywhere, for example companies are able to test their apps and websites from anywhere in the world on any device, as a means of ensuring its success in the real world. And while that can’t ever be 100% guaranteed because of the carriers involvement, it certainly can be mitigated.

For IT departments the BYOD issue as well as supporting workforce apps (such as ERP, timecard, or other internal based app) can even be a bigger challenge. So, what can IT teams do to minimize this problem? Ms. Jones gives us some good insight. She says “There are some -- but not many -- ways IT can deal with Android fragmentation. Some companies choose to buy devices for users, which will ensure those devices all run the same Android OS version. But manufacturers don't keep up with OS updates, so whichever version of Android is on the devices the company buys will become out of date as soon as the new version of Android becomes available. In that situation, replacing devices when they get old or deploying new ones to new employees will eventually become a problem.

In bring-your-own-device scenarios, IT can set a baseline for which Android OS versions users can bring to work. Most Android devices run version 2.3 or higher, so that's a good place to start. Some IT departments have chosen not to allow Android devices at all, which helps to avoid fragmentation headaches altogether, but doesn't necessarily appease employees.”

To read more follow our blog and catch our next installment as we continue this conversation in a 4 part series.

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