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Fragmentation Comes To iOS 244

Posted by timothy
from the all-nimbly-pimbly dept.
dell623 writes "While the fragmentation issues in iOS are nowhere near as bad as Android, it can no longer be considered non existent. I have prepared a chart showing which features will be available on which device. While some restrictions are the result of hardware limitations, it is clear that Apple has deliberately chosen to limit some previous generation devices, and figuring this out isn't always straightforward if you're not buying the latest iPad or iPhone."
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Fragmentation Comes To iOS

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:09PM (#41328981)

    ... that the submitter doesn't really understand what the word "fragmentation" means in this context.

  • by steelfood (895457) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:26PM (#41329129)

    Uh, what? The iPod Touch definitely [wikipedia.org] uses [wikipedia.org] iOS [engadget.com].

    Admittedly, I was expecting a rundown of what device supports what version of iOS as well as the particular features of that version, but that was just me.

  • by mrxak (727974) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:27PM (#41329149)

    Is slashdot just linking to people's random ass blogs now? This has got to be the most pointless and uninformed article I've ever seen here. Or it's a troll.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:28PM (#41329169) Journal

    The chart in TFA is entirely useless, since it focuses on end user features that apple has or hasn't included on various models; but there is the not-so-minor matter of spec changes(TFA's chart doesn't even touch them; but 'keeping the core APIs consistent' also doesn't address them). There are some pretty significant differences in CPU and GPU power, and how quickly the OS will run out of RAM and quietly start memory-managing you, between those models.

    If your 'app' is just some lousy re-implementation of a website that you really wanted to flog through the app store for some reason, it probably isn't a big deal; but anybody who really needs the punch provided by running native can't necessarily ignore that.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @06:43PM (#41329887)

    The bigger point he's missing is that he doesn't even understand what fragmentation means. Fragmentation is multiple parallel products that have incompatibilities. It's NOT current devices currently being on sale being different from older models in the same series let along devices that are no longer on sale. You can argue that there's iOS device fragmentation as far as iPhone vs iPod Touch vs iPad. But the iPhone 3GS and the iPad 1 aren't even on sale any more.

    Android is horribly fragmented because there is a huge number of current products with many hardware incompatibilities AND many don't even ship with a recent version of the OS. However much Android fanboys wish iOS devices had the same problem, they just don't.

  • by rcs1000 (462363) <rcs1000 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 13, 2012 @06:44PM (#41329897)

    For the average user, fragmentation does not exist as a problem. It's like asking a Dell user; tell me, do you think the PC ecosystem is weakened by the system where you can buy an HP with a 17" screen or an Acer with a 21" one? Aren't you worried about fragmentation of the PC ecosystem?

    Said user would look at you as if you were completely mad.

    For the average, user the word fragmentation means nothing. Really, absolutely nothing.

    There is an issue for developers, but even there the problems is relatively modest. Everyone writes to the Android specs of 2-3 years ago (mostly Gingerbread), and the world continues as normal.

    And, the crazy bit is, of the top 100 apps, 98 are cross-platform anyway. Dropbox? Check. Angry Birds? Check. Evernote? Check. Every serious developer is already designing for both Android and iOS anyway (would anyone seriously consider building a mobile app designed to only ever being on one platform?), which means that any developer is already thinking about multiple form factors and resolution.

    So: to finish, fragmentation is a wonderful phrase dreamt up by the depatment of FUD, but it bears about as much relevance to the real world as Elmer Fudd.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @06:50PM (#41329955)

    So, when the iphone apps that are pushed for the larger screen first are unable to scale down to the smaller screen iphone, how is that not a problem?

    Here you are hypothesizing some apps might exist only for the larger sized iPhone.

    But remember, Apple has this walled garden - why would they accept an app that did not work on both sizes of iPhone?

    Furthermore, apps HAVE to be able to resize down. When a call indicator is active the space for the app contracts.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @07:40PM (#41330345)
    I agree that what "fragmentation" exists is certainly far different than the fragmentation that exists under Android.

    There are four screen resolutions, which is the only thing developers (for which the term fragmentation typically applies) need to worry about. This includes the 3.5" iPhone/iPod retina display resolution, the new 4" iPhone/iPod retina display resolution, the iPad retina display resolution, and the older non-retina iPad display resolution, which is automatically converted.

    There are five screens. There are the non-retina 3.5" iPhone/iPod touch devices. The 3GS was only obsoleted yesterday, developers are still going to support such devices. They are fully supported by Apple given that they will run iOS 6.

    Also saying there are X screens that need to be supported is a little misleading. There are two parts to supporting a particular screen. One is the layout of user interface elements, the other is possibly skinning those elements (applying some sort of bitmap). When going between a non-retina and retina display the layout is the same. Layout is defined in terms of points not pixels, and since points = 1.0 pixels on non-retina and 2.0 pixels on retina there are no scaling artifacts to worry about.

    So there are at most 3 layouts to worry about. 3.5", 4" and 9.7" (iPad).

    For 3.5" and 9.7" non-retina and retina may be an issue for skinning those user interface elements. Given 1:2 scaling iOS can scale non-retina art quite effectively. Some apps might not need to supply retina versions of art. For those that do, or prefer to, iOS handles it automatically. The developer needs to make **no code changes**. Merely add a retina version of a given art file to the project. For example if my code/resources refer to image.png I add image@2x.png to the project. When the time comes to load image.png iOS automatically checks to see if it is running on a retina device, if so it checks to see if an @2x version of the file in question exists and makes the substitution if it does.

    So there are at most four sets of artwork, iPhone/iPad and non-retina/retina, and the non-retina/retina case is handled by iOS not by an app's code or resources. Assuming of course that the app uses artwork in its user interface.

    Note my use of "at most". If a developer targets only the 3.5" iPhone screen the app still works very well on an iPad or a 4" iPhone display. Both center the 3.5" layout, there is no stretching, everything looks exactly like the developer intended. On the iPad there is a 2x zoom button if the user wishes, again since it is an exact 2.0 scaling artifacts are minimal if any.

    So while it is possible to only target one display, it is more plausible to only target two displays. Non-retina iPhone and non-retina iPad. If a developer is not doing any skinning and the user interface consists of entirely built-in UI widgets then we go from plausible to very practical since iOS handles the scaling for you. All one would miss out on are the extra pixels (in only one dimension) of the 4" display, the app would look exactly the same with absolutely no artifacts.

  • by kqs (1038910) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @08:31PM (#41330747)

    Indeed. And Apple does it less than almost anyone else. Before the iPhone, phone firmware updates were as rare as hen's teeth. I had a Treo 700p for many years and only got one OS update; none of my other cell phones ever had an update. On desktops, Apple supported the power PC chip for many years after they stopped selling it.

    How often does an Android device (other than a Nexus) get an update? Hell, ignore updates, how many brand new Android devices come with an OS less than a year old?

    There are many reasons to diss Apple. Not supporting older devices is not one if them.

The bogosity meter just pegged.

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