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Android Fragmentation: Do We Really Need to Support Older Devices?

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Android Fragmentation: Do We Really Need to Support Older Devices?

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A recent post from Danny Roa's blog asks the question that many Android developers ask in their darkest hours: Do we really have to support older devices? The answer, according to Roa, is no, not really. Fragmentation is a major issue for Android developers - do you potentially sacrifice features or performance on newer devices to preserve features on older devices - and it can be a serious challenge allocating development resources when you have that kind of tradeoff to think about.

Roa's post provides a few examples - his own personal experiences, and those of others - in which developers stop worrying and draw the line at Android 4.0, focusing all of their energy on creating the best possible experience for newer devices. A compelling part of Roa's reasoning is that it's a long term strategy; every day there are more new devices and fewer old ones.

Then again, context is important. The audience for a particular app needs to be considered, and depending on the purpose of the app, denying features or functionality to users of older devices for the sake of improved UX on newer devices could even be ethically problematic. Focusing only on the ideal user leaves a lot of people out in the dust, after all.

What do you think? Obviously apps can't please all people all the time, and a line has to be drawn somewhere. Where do you draw the line? Should we support older devices?

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