My first “real” smartphone was Nokia’s E61, and it ran Symbian S60 3rd Edition. A year later I got a Nokia N95, and it ran Symbian 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1. What came with the new OS? An improved web browser, music player, and some bug fixes. Because of the way Symbian was built, that new web browser never made it to the E61, and neither did the new music player.
I bring this up because we take the current state of smartphones for granted. Google, with Android, decoupled the core applications of the OS from the OS itself. So say a newer version of the web browser comes out, you don’t need to buy a new phone to enjoy it. Same goes with Google Maps, Gmail, and the list just goes on and on.
That very same thing just happened to Google’s newly announced cloud services. Jerry Hildenbrand from Android Central wrote a highly compelling piece explaining why this is important. It all boils down to this: If you’re an Android developers, you shouldn’t have to worry if your application is going to run on an Android 4.2 device or an Android 2.3 device, because both will have a continuously updated library of APIs that you can tap into.
Google is, for all intents and purposes, squashing fragmentation. And that’s a good thing.