Android – One OS fits all sizes?

image I worked in “Budget Suits” in a department store when I was a college freshman in 1969. The suits there reminded me of the ill-fitting garments of the Soviet era. The poor quality was compounded by the jackets supposedly being “one size fits all” (they didn’t). But what does this have to do with the Android OS?

Om Malik’s The Androidification of Everything points out that the Android OS no longer is limited to smartphones. Instead, Android is being used in a MID like my Archos 5 IT. The OS also is or soon will be used for smartbooks, e-readers, car navigation systems, set-top boxes, virtual girlfriends (just kidding about the last … I think).

But how well will the Android OS work as its application extends beyond its smartphone origins? Mobile Gadgeteer has commented on this issue:

“Google Android is the talk of the town on the smartphone platform, but is also appearing on web tablets and netbooks. The first tablet was the Archos 5 Internet Tablet that most people are finding substandard. The next device we see people getting their hands-on is the Camangi WebStation and again most people are unimpressed with this $400 Android tablet. Google Android is really optimized for the smartphone and we are seeing it doesn’t appear to be as flexible as we once thought at going across form factors.”

This issue also has been a hot topic on the Archos Fans forum on the Archos 5 IT. I observed in my first impressions that the OS version on that device is still 1.5.x (or 1.6.x any day now) instead of the 2.x on Android phones. Some of the forum gurus there have commented that the problem may be that the Android OS is designed for the smaller screen size and resolution of a smartphone, and hardware requirements such as hardware buttons for home and back typically seen on smartphones but not so typically seen on other devices.

Only time will tell if Android takes over the gadget world, or instead ends up limited to smartphones.

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