Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 12th Jun 2015 10:37 UTC
Android

When Android Wear came out over the course of last year, Google promised that the young, new platform would receive updates "early and often". While it wasn't said with so many words, it's easy to read between the lines: Google was going to make sure Android Wear users wouldn't face the same headaches as Android users when it comes to updates. Wear would be a more tightly controlled platform, built in such a way that updates could go straight to users' devices without meddling from carriers or roadblocks thrown up by crappy customisations.

Fast forward to June 2015, and Google has recently released Android Wear 5.1.1, which, despite its humble version number increase over 5.0.1, is a pretty significant update to the smartwatch platform. It enables WiFi on devices that support it, adds new ways to interact with your watch, and makes it easier to launch applications. All in all, it looks like a great update.

Sadly, I can only go by what others have told me, despite owning the poster Android Wear device - the Moto 360.

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Comment by sb56637
by sb56637 on Fri 12th Jun 2015 12:54 UTC
sb56637
Member since:
2006-05-11

Very interesting (and depressing) post.

I'm not a developer, but I gather that Android development is very much a closed-development ecosystem, despite its guise of openness. As a matter of fact, it would appear that there are actually *two* layers of closed development in Android compared to Apple's one layer. In the case of Android, Google develops a new Android release behind closed doors, throws a ball of code over the fence, and then the OEMs start a new round of development/modification/integration/uglification behind THEIR closed doors.

I honestly don't understand why Android devices aren't upgradeable in two big atomic chunks: an underlying kernel/hardware layer, and a frontend GUI that can be updated apart from the underlying OS. With desktop Linux, I can install/remove any number of desktop environments on any of my very different laptops, despite their diverse hardware components, without touching the kernel or the underlying system. This allows me to run cutting edge Linux on systems that are more than a decade old. So why can't Google let the OEMs provide the underlying kernel tweaks and drivers specific to their hardware, while Google just releases a new GUI with new userland features?

Edited 2015-06-12 12:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by sb56637
by acobar on Fri 12th Jun 2015 15:34 in reply to "Comment by sb56637"
acobar Member since:
2005-11-15

gather that Android development is very much a closed-development ecosystem, despite its guise of openness

Nonsense, if it was closed we would not have projects building different images.

why Android devices aren't upgradeable in two big atomic chunks: an underlying kernel/hardware layer, and a frontend GUI that can be updated apart from the underlying OS. With desktop Linux, I can install/remove any number of desktop environments on any of my very different laptops, despite their diverse hardware components, without touching the kernel or the underlying system. This allows me to run cutting edge Linux on systems that are more than a decade old

Actually, this is not true. There are packages that rely on more up-to-date libraries and you just can't install them without upgrading also the libraries. It, actually, may trigger a cascade effect at which point your best option is to upgrade to a new version of your distro of choice. Been there, done that, don't botter anymore. It the thing is too old to accept a new distro I just give it to someone and buy a new one. Didn't have to do it in like 4 years, though.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by sb56637
by PieterGen on Fri 12th Jun 2015 16:37 in reply to "RE: Comment by sb56637"
PieterGen Member since:
2012-01-13

I think that with distributions such as Gentoo, Arch or Slack you can run cutting edge stuff on older hardware. It depends on what parts you want to be cutting edge. You may not be able to have btrfs as a file system, run the Gnome 3.14 desktop environment or use the latest cutting edge graphics applications on your 10 year old laptop. But perhaps that old beast is perfectly capable to run the latest kernel, vim or python.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Comment by sb56637
by moondevil on Fri 12th Jun 2015 17:15 in reply to "Comment by sb56637"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

That is one reason why my hobby development on Android is done in C++.

My hobby development is mostly geared towards gaming, so although constrained, I can survive with the NDK.

Additionally, by using external C++ libraries I can enjoy the same APIs, regardless of the Android version and also port the code to iOS and WP devices.

There is a price to pay though, as each APK tends to be much bigger than a Java only approach, plus one needs to either replicate UI Widgets or use JNI.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Comment by sb56637
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 15th Jun 2015 15:08 in reply to "Comment by sb56637"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

There is more to an operating system than just a kernel, device drivers and a gui. I think this is where you're misunderstanding lies.

With that division, I think everything you'd care about that you didn't name would be in the "GUI". And we'd still be stuck in the same place we are now. Can't just update the "GUI" without consequences.

Reply Parent Score: 2