With hundreds of different smartphone models and a growing number of tablets that run Google’s Android (s goog) operating system, fragmentation continues to challenge. Some devices can run certain apps, while others can’t. Google begin taking steps to address this issue last year, and more recently, has added a new function to its web-based Android Market. Consumers can now see if an application is supported on their Android device.
Although Google hasn’t made an official announcement about the Market feature, Android Central picked up on it and I’ve taken it for a spin. On the left side of any application’s Market page on the web, Google will show if any or all of your Android devices will support the app. Users will have to be signed in through their Google account for the service, as that’s how Google checks support at the device-level.
The new compatibility check won’t help make newer applications magically work on Android devices that run Android 1.5, 1.6 or another older version; just 4.4 percent of the total Android device pool as of June 1. But it will help both consumers and developers in the long run.
Device owners don’t have to waste time installing an application that may not work well with their device in the first place, nor will they have to “test” any such apps within the 15-minute return window for Android apps. And developers don’t have to waste space in the software’s description to specify what phones or tablets an app is supported on.
Unfortunately, Google still has work to do on the web-based Android Market. It’s useful for switching devices because it provides a history of all free and paid apps ever purchased on a single Google account. But there’s no way to remove devices from the list, you can only hide them, which is why my device list, shown above, is ridiculously long.
My list is filled with review devices, so most consumers won’t have this same issue; at least not yet. But Google TV is slated to gain Market access, more Android tablets will be launching and there’s always those handset upgrades that add to the list. At least you’ll know which apps are compatible with all the Androids — even your very own Google Android robot!