Will There Soon Be Android Orphans?

Last week I wrote about how I think that Google is releasing updates to Android too fast. As the differences between the different version of Android become more extreme, developers will have to make a choice about whether they will target their applications for all versions of Android in the market, or just the most recent versions. The consequence for users is that if they have an older phone they may not be able to run the latest and greatest applications on their phone.

Androinica points this out by showing that developers are already targeting applications, with a list of four new applications that only run on the Droid or Nexus. I am not sure how developers are actually determining what hardware is running their programs, most likely it is checking the operating system, so if a G1 or myTouch is upgraded to Android 2.x, these apps may still run. However, if the apps intend to take full advantage of faster processors, they may not run very well.

Today I found an example of this taking place with the announcement of the availability of Urbanspoon for the Droid and Nexus One. Urbanspoon, which is also available on the iPhone, provides a way of discovering nearby restaurants by displaying them in a slot-machine format. To see another restaurant you shake the phone. From the description and picture on the site, I don’t know why this application cannot run on the myTouch 3G, which has an accelerometer and GPS, so this has to simply be a case of developer decision.

Hopefully myTouch and G1 owners will soon learn whether version 2.1 of Android will be available for their phone. When Google or the carriers decide to no longer release upgrades of Android for these phones, they will become orphans, and owners will have to determine whether to buy new phones in order to continue being able to get the latest software, or settle with the software they already run.