12 December 2013
3 Reasons Why Android Development May Become More Interesting
Android has been a complex and dynamic platform. However, there have been significant shifts in the past few months that may further shake up the Android world and boost the value of experienced Android development teams.
Google Play Services
Android fragmentation is an issue that has sparked much debate. Slow OEM updates have led to users running many different versions of the OS in the field. This has made it difficult to ensure consistent app quality across different devices.
Google’s response to this has been to place more of the core platform into the relatively new app Google Play Services. At the recent Google I/O, the company highlighted how this service is going to be behind many of the operating systems important features. Thus, an update to Google Play Services is like a virtual OS update that happens to sidestep Android manufacturers.
Even though the most essential customer-facing updates will come through Google Play Services from now on, Google actually snuck a fairly important feature into Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). Known as App Ops, this relatively obscure interface is a granular privacy permissions manager. It allows users to set privacy features per-application with a high level of detail. We do not know how much support it will receive from Google in the future as it appears to be unfinished (the reason why it was buried). However, there is already an app on Google Play that makes the interface easier to access and use.
One of the most significant Android developments, however, may not involve Google at all. Rather, it comes from CyanogenMod, a popular custom Android firmware. Until recently it was a volunteer project. However, the team behind it has secured funding and has gone commercial. As Cyanogen, Inc, the company is developing an easy installer and other means to increase its user base beyond custom ROM users. It offers different performance and interface features than Android as offered through vendors. If it succeeds, it may lead to an ecosystem in which there are many competing versions of Android firmware.
With all of these dramatic shifts in the Android development world, it is important to find skilled and knowledgeable software partners to help serve customers on the world’s most popular mobile OS.