Apparently, Angry Birds is not made for every single Android smartphone. That was proven true when users of certain handsets were unable to play the game due to various reasons such as low screen resolution and insufficient processing power. Rovio’s solution to the problem? A new, ‘lightweight’ version of Angry Birds to support most of incompatible devices.
When people feared that Android might be becoming a little too fragmented for the likes of developers, most users brushed off such concerns as nothing more than marketing scare tactics and paranoia. However, it seems that the naysayers may actually have a case after all, if the recent announcement from a popular mobile app developer means anything.
Apparently, Rovio, the company which brought the hit game Angry Birds to iOS and Android, is finding itself in a bit of a situation where it has to pony up an additional version of the game. Not because of plans for a sequel, but rather, just to support a wide range of existing devices which cannot run the official game client properly, if at all.
As such, in order to prevent another hoo-haa of users finding that their copy of Angry Birds is not compatible with their smartphone, Rovio has taken the effort to post up an ‘officially unsupported’ list of smartphones that will not run Angry Birds, or run with significant issues. The list is as follows:
While having such a list is a good step to managing user expectations, it does not help the fact that many of the ‘officially unsupported’ handsets announced by the developer are still heavily used by people globally. Which, once again, brings us all back to the ‘Android is fragmented’ argument.
However, to be fair, the problem facing developers of the Android platform is not so much that of OS fragmentation, but an ecosystem where there is too diverse a range of hardware. OS fragmentation only occurs when OEMs make their own custom extensions to the OS and break compatibility with the stock ROM in the process of doing so. And as far as Android is concerned, this issue currently does not exist yet: most OEMs only layer their own technologies like a better touch-oriented UI and cosmetic changes, while leaving the base of the OS mostly untouched. What Rovio is currently experiencing has nothing to do with Android fragmentation: rather, it is just a simple case of the hardware not meeting the game’s minimum requirements.
To draw a parallel, this is exactly what is happening in the desktop and notebook PC world today. Because of the vast diversity of hardware and specifications capable of running most desktop/notebook operating systems, developers often find that their software has to draw the line at a certain point when it comes to hardware support. Considering that smartphones are fast paving the way as mini-handheld computers, it should make sense that developers of mobile apps have to draw the line about what hardware can be supported or not.
Simply put, it is just like how a Pentium 4 and the old Core Duo/Core Solo processors are considered obsolete by today’s standards. In the same vein, users should not expect a smartphone running on a dated Qualcomm processor clocked at 528MHz with a QVGA screen to handle all the apps developed for more powerful phones.