Google’s ‘Friends Furever’ ad attempts to turn debilitating Android fragmentation negative into a positive

By SteveJack

Android devices come in all shapes and sizes, with vastly different performance levels and a massive number of screen sizes and display capabilities.

In addition, there are many different Android versions currently in the wild, adding even more levels of fragmentation. Developing apps that work across the whole spectrum of Android devices and operating system versions can be horrifically challenging and time-consuming. For this reason, beyond the fact that Apple iOS users are proven to be better educated and richer, many developers treat Android as a second thought, releasing inferior, dumbed-down ports later, if at all.

Despite the significant drawbacks that the growing fragmentation issue presents to Android – or “fragmandroid,” if you will – Google’s latest TV commercial attempts to turn a negative into a positive using stock footage of animals and a cutesy song. The ad is actually incredibly representative of the mess that is the Google Android zoo: myriad devices, running many different forked operating systems, each one with its own UI “skin” and none of which share a common enough language for seamlessly communicating with each other as Apple’s iOS device and OS X-powered Macs do so well via Continuity and Handoff.

Android fragmentation: Source: OpenSignal, Android Fragmentation 2014
Source: OpenSignal, Android Fragmentation 2014

 
Unlike the incoherent and uncommunicative world of fragmandroid, Apple users can start writing an email on their iPhones and pick up where they left off on their Macs. Or browse the web on their Macs and continue from the same link on their iPads. It all simply happens automatically with Apple devices. Apple iPhone, iPad, and Mac owners use Handoff with favorite apps like Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, and Contacts. And iOS and OS X developers can and do build Handoff right into their apps as well.

In fact, unlike, say an orangutan and a dog, Apple’s iOS and OS X devices communicate so well that Apple product users can make and receive phone calls on their Mac, iPad, or iPhone. Incoming calls on Mac and iPad show the caller’s name, number, and profile picture and users just click or swipe the notification to answer, ignore, or talk. Of course, making phone calls from iPad or Mac is just as easy – users simply tap or click a phone number in Contacts, Calendar, or Safari. Plus, it all works with your existing iPhone number, so there’s nothing to set up.

Another useful thing for Apple users is that, if you’re out of Wi-Fi range, your iPad or Mac can automatically connect to your phone’s personal hotspot when your iPhone is close by. Using Apple’s Instant Hotspot feature, Mac and iPad users see the name of their iPhone in the list of Wi-Fi networks in Settings on their iPad and in the Wi-Fi menu on their Mac. They simply select it and, that’s it, they’re connected. And when they’re not using their phone’s network, their Apple devices intelligently disconnect to save battery life.

This is the sort of thing Google’s fragmandroid will never be able to deliver. Still struggling even to get to 64-bits, which Apple has been delivering for quite some time, Android devices —— that use an off-the-shelf handset OS skinned in myriad, inconsistent, developer-vexing ways, slapped onto off-the-shelf processors stuck into an endless array of dead-end devices that are doomed to never be upgraded —— will never seamlessly communicate with each other like Apple’s iOS and OS X devices already do with aplomb.

Yes, it’s true: Compared to Apple’s operating systems, Android will always be as efficient, streamlined, and communicative as a gopher riding a turtle.

Now, for your entertainment, please enjoy Google’s ad celebrating one of Android’s most debilitating disadvantages:

Aw, so cuuuuute!

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, former web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section who also basically called the iPhone over five years before Steve Jobs unveiled it.

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31 Comments

  1. I saw that advertisement couple of times last night and enjoyed watching the disparate animals getting along so well. But I did not even notice the Android at the end. Of course, being a fan of Apple products using OS X and iOS, my mind is not going to be swayed by a feel-good commercial, anyway.

    I wonder how many viewers even got the point that the commercial is attempting to convey. As an advertisement, it rates as an epic fail.

      1. I like the add too and get it. People like to have their “own” things not the same as anyone else’s.

        But if that’s all Android has got left to sell itself then the war is over.

        Apple should see how their customers respond to all the Apple Watch customization and perhaps update their own iPhone case offerings to be just as innovative and different as the Watch’s bands. Lots of materials, colors, looks, and price ranges. Maybe even coordinated looks that good matched Watch bands.

        No point in leaving even a little oxygen for Android!

    1. Just so people are aware:
      The tiger and bear are Baloo and Shere Khan from a nonprofit animal shelter in GA.
      Google asked for permission to use them and were denied – but went ahead and used them anyway – without compensation or credit.
      “Do no evil” my *ss.

      1. Link to an article about Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary (where Baloo and Shere Khan live). If this happened as the animal sanctuary claims, this sounds like a pretty clear-cut case of copyright violation. Posting a video to Facebook let’s Facebook use it (obviously, so they can show it to your friends), but it doesn’t grant permission to random other people or companies to take your material and incorporate it into their own without your permission.
        http://geekalabama.com/2015/02/10/did-android-steal-a-video-clip-from-noahs-ark-animal-sanctuary/
        Disclaimer: I am a lawyer, but not yours, and not anyone else’s in this situation. This isn’t advice, just a comment. 🙂

    1. Google will either copy Apple’s locked down OS or pitch Android off to some open source project.

      Google is not getting the benefit they thought from Android.

      My best guess? GoDroid is locked down and Google enters the hardware business. Why? Eric T. Mole loves to copy.

      1. Android started as open source, but the Android you want, that has access to Google Play and other proprietary Google software, is not open source. Don’t let anyone fool you. Another example is Chrome. Chromium is the open source version. Chrome is enhanced (proprietary JS, proprietary sandbox method for tabs, etc.) and is proprietary.

        That was a fairly popular argument for using Android over iOS, that Google was morally superior for making it all open source. Didn’t work out for them, did it. OS X and iOS have extensive open source components, too.

        Just sayin’.

  2. I saw that story about a phone running Ubuntu Linux due for a very limited trial balloon rollout called something like Aquaris E4.5. Saw the story over on engadget. Very curious indeed and now there might be another vector of attack on Android.

    1. At least a phone running Ubuntu might actually run native code and not this java monstrosity that Android runs it’s apps in. As long as the developers make their own way with it and don’t just ape everyone else, I say more power to em and their Ubuntu phone.

  3. Yea, it’s hard to tell exactly what the message is – that it’s weird that different species can get along? That Android is cute? that Android is un-natural and a short lifespan? That Android doesn’t understand the natural order of things? That we hope people like cute animals enough to avoid a technical or feature explanation of our products?

    1. Words on screen at end of video — “be together. not the same.”

      I think it’s a swipe at Apple’s uniformity of user experience — rephrased as conformity, which no one wants to be accused of.

  4. The animals and symbolism are very cute.
    Nice theory about everything different getting along, but in real life practice they eat each other. Same goes for the animals in the ad. 😉

  5. It’s an entertaining commercial, but how is it going to get people to buy more Android-based devices? Most customers will see “Android” at end and be bewildered.

    And pointing out that the Android platform is fragmented beyond hope is not a smart move. Many customers don’t even consider such issues; until Google makes it the subject of a cute watchable commercial.

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