Android fragmentation visualized thanks to the developers of OpenSignalMaps

OpenSignalMaps is an Android application that shows you which cell towers you’re connected to, how strong your connection to said tower is, and provides users with maps that show which towers they happen to be near. Useful if you plan on moving to a new city and want to know which operator to sign-up with. Last night the developers who made OpenSignalMaps posted some pretty neat charts highlighting just how many different types of devices there are running their app. In the past 6 months alone, there were 3,997 different Android phones logged. That number is a bit inflated though since operator variants count as a different model, and there’s also the whole custom ROM scene, but still, that’s a hell of a lot of fragmentation. And here’s a data point that shouldn’t surprise you: 40% of all the devices that used OpenSignalMaps were made by Samsung.

So is this actually a problem? If you’re a developer trying to provide a deliver consistent experience to all your users, then yes, you have to deal with multiple screen resolutions and device capabilities. That being said, if you’re making something for the web, then it really shouldn’t matter since your content should gracefully format itself for whatever device is being used. The iOS model, where there’s one phone that comes out every year, has proven to be a success, but not everyone wants a smartphone with a 3.5 inch screen. More importantly, not everyone wants an Apple product.

What’s Google doing to try and make developer’s lives easier? Earlier today we published a report that said the Nexus device program will be expanded to include multiple vendors, but until we find out further details it’s hard to call that a win. We’ll just have to wait until Google I/O next month to hear what the company has to say.

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