Google modifies Android SDK to battle platform fragmentation

New terms for developers specifically prohibit them from any action that could contribute to further fragmentation of the mobile platform.

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Steven Musil
2 min read

Recognizing that fragmentation of the Android platform frustrates consumers and developers alike, Google is looking to put a stop to it.

The company has modified its legal agreement with developers working on Android apps to specifically prohibit them from any action that could contribute to further fragmentation of the mobile platform. The anti-fragmentation clause was recently added to the Android SDK licensing terms and conditions, which developers must accept in order to build Android apps.

Section 3.4 of Google's new terms, which were updated Tuesday, reads, "You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK."

The new clause is the first significant update since the 2009 terms, which did not address the issue of fragmentation.

CNET has contacted Google for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

Fragmentation of the platform has been gaining attention lately because it may prevent apps from running properly on all Android devices. Because fragmentation makes Google's platform more complex and costly for developers, the blame for the situation has typically been placed with Google, handset makers, and wireless carriers.

It's the responsibility of handset makers to keep their devices up-to-date with the latest version of the OS, but most Android devices are still using a 2-year-old version of the platform. According to Google's own statistics, more than 54 percent of Android devices in use today are running Android 2.3, which debuted in 2010.