Knowing is half the battle
By RaphaŽl Moll
December 17 2009
As a developer, I often wonder which Android platforms my applications should support, especially as the number of Android-powered devices grows. Should my application only focus on the latest version of the platform or should it support older ones as well?
To help with this kind of decision, I am excited to announce the new device dashboard [ http://developer.android.com/resources/dashboard/platform-versions.html ]. It provides information about deployed Android-powered devices that is helpful to developers as they build and update their apps. The dashboard provides the relative distribution of Android platform versions on devices running Android Market.
The above graph shows the relative number of Android devices that have accessed Android Market during the first 14 days of December 2009.
From a developer's perspective, there are a number of interesting points on this graph:
At this point, there's little incentive to make sure a new application is backward compatible [ http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2009/04/backward-compatibility-for-android.html ] with Android 1.0 and Android 1.1.
Close to 30% of the devices are running Android 1.5. To take advantage of this significant install base, you may consider support for Android 1.5.
Starting with Android 1.6, devices can have different screen densities & sizes. There are several devices out there that fall in this category, so make sure to adapt your application to support different screen sizes [ http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2009/10/support-for-additional-screen.html ] and take advantage of devices with small, low density (e.g QVGA) and normal, high density (e.g. WVGA) screens. Note that Android Market will not list your application on small screen devices unless its manifest explicitly indicates support for "small" screen sizes. Make sure you properly configure the emulator [ http://developer.android.com/guide/practices/screens_support.html#testing ] and test your application on different screen sizes before uploading to Market.
A new SDK for Android 2.0.1 was released two weeks ago [ http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2009/12/android-sdk-updates.html ]. All Android 2.0 devices will be updated to 2.0.1 before the end of the year, so if your application uses features specific to Android 2.0, you are encouraged to update it to take advantage of the latest Android 2.0.1 API instead.
In summary, Android 1.5, 1.6, and 2.0.1 are the 3 versions of the platform that are deployed in volume. Our goal is to provide you with the tools and information to make it easy for you to target specific versions of the platform or all the versions that are deployed in volume.
We plan to update the dashboard regularly to reflect deployment of new Android platforms. We also plan to expand the dashboard to include other information like devices per screen size and so on.