If you didn’t notice that Google is very serious at making the Android OS as seamless as possible, you should look into what Ice Cream Sandwich promises to bring. In its latest attempt to ease the fragmentation of its mobile OS, today the Android Developers Blog announced a new feature for developers: Multiple APK support.
While this won’t mean much to the average consumer, this move will allow developers to upload multiple APKs of the same app and have the Android Market choose which is right for the handset that is downloading the app itself.
For the most part, the current way of having just one app uploaded to the market has worked rather well for the majority of Android phones. That said, if the application isn’t fully supported by the handset you’re downloading it from, the application itself may not even appear in the Market when you’re looking for it. Now a developer can upload more than one version of the application and the user will have the most compatible version for their hardware, OS version, screen size, etc. downloaded to their device automatically.
While this is great news for the user, this will also help the developer immensely. For handsets that are stuck on older versions of the OS (2.1 and below), you may sometimes search for an application and have two results appear. One for devices with a new version number of the OS and one for lower versions. This isn’t always the case but I’ve seen this before and it dilutes statistics, ratings, and reviews between the two (or more) applications. With multiple APK support, a developer will no longer need to keep track of multiple versions floating around the Android Market, because all versions will appear as one application from now on.
This feature benefits the developer more than the user, because if done right, the user won’t notice anything different.
If you can’t taste the Ice Cream Sandwich coming, try the new Android Market and then maybe you will.