April 19, 2014

Can Hardware Keep Up With Android?

AndroidsBeatingUphardwareSince the G1 rolled out a year ago, there’s one question that continues to burn the cilia of my ear.

“Does the phone lag?”

Why does this bother me so much? It seems like a fair question, doesn’t it? Does it lag? Well, why should it? I mean, a phone should be made to run the way the software intended, should it not?

Of course it should!

If I have a phone that comes with Tetris pre-loaded, I darn well expect Tetris to run without glitching and lagging. I think that’s a reasonable expectation, don’t you? The same thing should hold true for any pre-loaded software. A phone should operate, for the most part, without a hiccup. Obviously no phone is perfect, but still, it should operate within a certain window of performance.

So here’s the question I pose to all y’all… Is Android growing too fast for hardware manufacturers?

Can companies, such as Qualcomm, keep up with the demanding growth that Android expects? Can HTC build phones that accommodate the ever-expanding amount of storage that users require for their apps and documents? Google’s not going to hit the brakes on Android anytime soon. The OS will keep growing more and more powerful, requiring faster, more efficient, and less power hungry hardware to run on.

Right now, we’re at an interesting point in Android’s development. Current hardware is starting to show signs of weakness. Up until now, we really weren’t seeing much need to pass the 500 to 600 MHz speed barrier. Yet, due to major headway in the realm of mobile software development, hardware seems to be playing catch up. With advancements in multi-tasking, video streaming, social networking, and richer web content (among many other things), we are seeing amazing software pushed to the market on half-baked hardware.

Thankfully, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Phone manufactures are set to turn the tides. Over the next few months, powerful phones will be released. Sony Ericsson and Samsung are confirmed to be pushing out phones in the 800 MHz to 1 GHz range. It’s an exciting time for Android.

Now it’s Google’s turn to play catch up, so to speak. The hardware is coming. Now the software has to learn to utilize the extra power it will be granted. Which brings me back to my main point.

Is Android growing too fast for phone makers to keep up? Sure, with Sapdragon based phones, Android will have some wiggle room. But, will that wiggle room last? If so, for how long? As Android becomes more and more popular we will begin to see a mass influx of powerful applications meant to run on it. This will force Android to become even more robust in a very short time frame, ultimately driving it to require more hardware power. The cycle is never ending.

I’m not saying that Google doesn’t have their work cut out for them. It’s the software’s job to efficiently utilize the hardware. Android needs to learn to adapt to the hardware it’s given. It needs to sip less juice, take up less space, and scale accordingly.

Yes, I firmly believe that Android is growing too quickly for hardware manufacturers to keep up. But is that the hardware manufacturer’s problem? Does Android need to learn a lesson in efficiency? I really just don’t know at this point. All I know is that Android adoption is beginning to explode. Is the industry ready for it?

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