Google used this year’s developer conference to announce a ton of new features and services available now and coming soon for Android. There is a new Maps experience; Google Play has been updated; Google Now is set to include more information; Google game services will enhance your gaming experience across phones, tablets and platforms; Google Play Music All Access will completely change how music works on your Android device. And yet, there was no new version of Android announced. That’s no coincidence.
Google’s answer to fragmentation has been fully realized at Google I/O 2013. Google has developed around the vastly different configurations of Android, breaking down the various walls keeping Google from updating core apps and services that really shape your Android experience. If you were to break down the most important aspects of Android that dictate user experience, you could easily include everything Google updated today, without having to actually update Android. That means that not only will Nexus users experience Android the way Google wants you to, but HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, Sony Xperia Z and Oppo Find 5 users will as well.
Yes, the way text messages, certain aspects of notifications, the lock screen and home screen may be entirely different on various devices, but that’s not fragmentation — that’s choice. When every Android user, despite what phone or tablet they use, can enjoy the same Google Play store, the same Maps app, the same music services, the same Gmail experience and the same robust Google Search features, there’s no way you can say Android has a fragmentation problem. In the past there has been system compatibility problems, keeping some users on older versions of Android from accessing certain features, but that is getting better every day. And Google has set up a system that will get rid of that problem in the future.
In order to implement the changes to Android that Google wanted to today, they didn’t have to update Android. That, in itself, is the most important piece of news to come out of Google I/O 2013. To see how far Android has come in the last year, you don’t need to look further than that.