7/19/16

Salesforce will only support Nexus and Samsung Galaxy phones to avoid Android fragmentation

The move avoids the long and costly effort of testing on hundreds or thousands of devices.

One of the big challenges for Android app developers is the fact that there are just so many different phones out there using a variety of versions of Google’s operating system.

That often means a lot more time and money spent testing and supporting Android than Apple’s iOS, but with Android making up the majority of smartphones out there, what’s a large developer to do?

Salesforce is taking a rather unusual stance in an effort to avoid this problem. Starting with an update to its Salesforce1 app later this year, the company will offer support for its app only to those using certain Google Nexus or Samsung Galaxy devices.

The company declined to go into detail on its reasoning, but confirmed in a support document that it is looking to maximize its development resources.

“Due to the wide array of available Android devices, we are targeting our support to a select number of Android devices to continue improving our overall Salesforce1 for Android user experience,” the company said in the support document.

If Salesforce’s approach takes hold, it could offer a further boost for Samsung, which already is the market leader in Android devices, especially among business users.

Oculus CTO John Carmack cited a similar rationale, explaining that the virtual reality maker partnered with Samsung on Gear VR to “bypass the development hell of Android.”

Fragmentation within the Android world takes many forms. In addition to the hardware diversity, Android phones are often slow to get software updates through their carriers, forcing developers to make sure their apps run on multiple versions of the operating system.

A cottage industry has cropped up of testing houses where Android developers can test their apps on a range of leading devices rather than having to buy and maintain hundreds or thousands of different models. Google even bought one such firm, Appurify, back in 2014.

Google executives noted at its recent I/O developer conference that these issues remain a top concern, but past efforts to ensure prompt software updates have done little to lessen the problem.

As for Salesforce, it plans to support the Samsung Galaxy S5, S6 and S7; Samsung Galaxy Note 4; and Google Nexus 5X and Google Nexus 6P, as well as two Samsung tablets: The Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Tab A 9.7.

Those using unsupported Android devices will still be able to install the new Salesforce apps, but the company won’t provide support for those devices or fix any bugs that arise.

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