UPDATE: To be clear, we are Android-fanboys here at Big in Japan. We love Android and the Open Handset Alliance. We are NOT bashing Google or the OHA. Also, we have been asked to clarify two points: a) an early look Cupcake SDK was released two weeks ago and b) the Magic with Cupcake has not been released to endusers (only reporters have the new handset).
Now I will respond: The early look SDK wasn’t a release candidate like the 1.5 SDK release pushed last night. Most developers do not port existing applications to a pre-release SDK. I believe two days between release of the current and final SDK to public release is not enough time. Second, we are talking to reporters in Europe who have the Magic with Cupcake and who are writing reviews as we speak. They are trying to use ShopSavvy, but are frustrated by its incompatibility. We got up this morning to find emails from these ‘users’ only to read that we had two days to port ShopSavvy.
Well, that is my assessment this week – next week everything should be great (I hope). Yesterday Google FINALLY released the latest version of Android – Cupcake 1.5 to developers. ShopSavvy, like many other applications, won’t work with Cupcake automatically. We began porting ShopSavvy almost immediately. This new version of Android breaks most applications including ShopSavvy requiring an extensive port. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for three issues:
- Cupcake will be pushed OTA to users two days from now (according to cnet UK)
- Cupcake is already live in Spain? WTF?
- Android Market does NOT let you target specific build to different versions of applications.
Let me address each issue in order. First, two days to port applications to a new operating system? Really? Does that make sense? Third-party developers like us must BUILD and TEST within two days? I would recommend NOT making a fundamental change to your operating system without giving developers a little time to build and test – how about a week or two? Of course Vodafone decided to go live with Cupcake in Spain at the exact same time developers got Cupcake – I won’t bother making any further comments about that genius idea. Finally, some of our users won’t upgrade to cupcake and as we learned today, the Market won’t support targeting specific builds with specific versions of applications. As a result we must make ShopSavvy backwards compatible with older versions of Android. This might not sound difficult, but porting to cupcake is a task that would take a week or two of development and at least a week of beta testing. Add in the requirement that it must be backwards compatible adds another week of development. But alas, we must do all of this work in two days.
The good news is that we will release our new version whenever Cupcake is pushed OTA to users. The bad news it will be untested. It will have bugs, bugs that we will fix. Please bear with us and realize that we don’t have much choice in the matter. My biggest concern is that we are better prepared than most. How many applications will go unupdated or tested? Will new Android users assume Android sucks when all of the applications force close? Perception of the market is key to Androids success – it seems like in a rush to be first Vodafone is risking tarnishing the Android brand. Google? Can you save Android?