Developers battle with over 100 different versions of Android

TweetDeck highlights more than 100 separate software iterations of smartphone operating system

Stewart Mitchell
14 Oct 2010

The scale of the challenge facing Android developers has been laid bare by Twitter client TweetDeck, which has just launched a full version of its UI for Google's smartphone OS.

During beta testing of its new software, TweetDeck encountered more than 36,000 testers using an enormous pool of 244 different handets, according to the Tweetdeck blog.

Not only was hardware for the platform fragmented, but Tweetdeck had to contend with more than a hundred different versions of Android, highlighting just how muddled the market is for the open-source platform.

According to posters on the TweetDeck forum, the multiple hardware and software iterations present their own challenges for developers.

“It's not particularly harder to develop for Android over iPhone (from a programming standpoint),” said Christopher Pabon, a developer who writes apps for both the iPhone and Android platforms. “Except when it comes to final quality assurance and testing. Then it can be a nightmare. (a manageable nightmare, mind you).

“I know of a major company having a multimillion dollar project held up because of it," he said. "Project managers definitely prefer developing for iPhone over Android because there is less to worry about in final QA.”

Android TweetDeck 1.0 is available from the Android Market and although development might have been challenging, the company said the open environment meant it could get its software to a wider variety of end users.

"We were really shocked to see the number of custom versions, crazy phones and general level of customisation of Android," the company said. "From our perspective, it's pretty cool to have our app work on such a wide variety of devices and Android OS variations."

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