Google is looking to fix Android’s platform fragmentation by giving device manufacturers earlier access to upcoming versions of the Android OS. Starting with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, selected OEMs will receive a Platform Developers Kit (PDK) two to three months before a new version of Android is released.
Hugo Barra, Android’s director of product management said the new Android PDKs were essentially SDKs for device manufacturers — giving Google hardware partners an opportunity to get a jump on making sure new features are compatible with their devices before the a version of the OS is actually released.
It’s no secret that some Android OEMs haven’t put much effort into making sure their hardware is compatible with the latest version of the Android OS. According to Google’s own developer dashboard, 65 percent of Android devices are running Gingerbread, or Android version 2.3.3, an update that came out in Feb. 2011. Only seven percent of Android devices are running the most recent version of the Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich.
Although the announcement won’t close the gap between when a new version of Android is released and when the majority of Android users actually see it on their phones, the move will be a welcome one for the Android developers who have to design apps that are capable of running on one of the myriad versions of the Android OS currently in use.