Android Jelly BeanIt looks like Google are finally attempting to get tough on Android fragmentation with a change to their latest terms and conditions for developers.

Long bemoaned by many as an issue with Android, fragmentation is now clearly taking centre stage for Google.

Google churn out updates to the Android mobile operating system and other developers (typically hardware manufacturers and mobile operators) make small, and some times significant, changes to the code to suit their own needs.  This results in many other branches of Android.

Currently the most recent version of Android is 4.2 (Jelly Bean) released Tuesday 13 November.  It is only days old however it can be pushed out to pure Android devices such as the Nexus range developed by Google.  The problems comes when the update has to be delivered to other hardware.  As an example, Samsung have two very popular phones -- the SII and SIII.  Neither of these are ready for 4.2 as it will need tweaked by Samsung.  In fact the SII still only runs 4.0 and the SIII has only just received 4.1 of Android.

All this is proving difficult for Google, who are keen to get everyone on up-to-date software.

It looks like the mighty Google is now finally trying to address this.  As of Monday a change has appeared for developers.... Section 3.4 of Google's terms and conditions, "You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK."

This is an interesting clause, and open to some interpretation; there is certainly no definition of "fragmentation".  Google have also offered no further explanation.

If you look at the latest statistics from Google (below) on Android spread you will see that just over 54% of phones are stuck on 2.3.x (Gingerbread) which launched in 2010.

Android version statistics

Just how much impact this change will have remains to be seen, however it is a step in the right direction.

You only need to look on any Android forum to see people asking when they will get the current version of Android on their phone -- it is clearly a frustration for users too.

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