Older Android Apps To Get Google’s Anti-Fragmentation Tool

Android mascot wearing utility belt

Google’s work on helping Android developers deal with fragmentation is getting some teeth.

Android applications designed for past versions, dating all the way back to the Android 1.6 release, can now take advantage of anti-fragmentation tools (that are for some reason called “Fragment”) with the ability to use code that helps make Android apps created for phones run better on Android tablets. CNET noticed Google’s quiet blog post on the matter Thursday.

One of the more poorly kept secrets about Android development is that developers can find it challenging to support the wide variety of screen sizes and resolutions that Google’s hardware partners use on their phones, not to mention the breakneck speed at which Google (NSDQ: GOOG) releases new versions. In February, with the pending debut of the tablet-optimized Android 3.0 software that could have potentially made things worse, Google released a “Fragment” API that let application developers writing apps for that operating system, also known as Honeycomb, have their apps automatically adjust to different screen sizes.

However, that release only helped out developers who were writing apps for the 3.0 version of the software. With Thursday’s release, older applications can get the same benefit.

This is really important for those making games or multimedia applications that not only have to work across multiple devices, but have to look really good or the value of the app is diminished. This is a lot easier for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), which by default controls exactly which screen sizes iOS applications run on, and illustrates some of the trade-offs between Apple’s totally integrated strategy and Google’s open licensing strategy, which will probably result in greater long-term market share.

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