Things are starting to get ugly on the Android fragmentation front. Worse yet, I just got hit by the problem with my good ol’ Touch (about one year old, i.e., an antique by Android standards). A good friend just pointed to stickybits, a promising service (at least if you are not in the NFC industry) that allows you to associate digital objects to any barcode, or indirectly to the physical object that the barcode is attached to.
I got all excited, clicked on the Android button, scanned the QR-Code, and Android Market opened. Things were looking good, but the application was not found. That looked strange, so I went back to the Android page and read the text.
Works with Android version 2.0+
Now, I feel bad, really bad. There is an iPhone version, that I could load on my iPod Touch. But then, a barcode app that I can only use at home by entering the digits is just not fun.
Now, not everything is bad, but it doesn’t look very good:
- BAD. It doesn’t work on my phone.
- BAD. I have no clue if I will ever have the opportunity to upgrade to Android 2.0+ on my phone.
- GOOD. It didn’t allow me to load the application and be disappointed.
- BAD. “Not found” does not properly describe the problem in the app store.
- BAD. It seems that even today, some phones are delivered with older versions of Android.
This is just the beginning: versioning is pretty easy to do. I still remember the first application that I got on the Android Market, which tried to address the physical keyboard that my phone doesn’t have. This gets me a bit afraid about future NFC APIs: Will there be a reference set of APIs to be included? Will they include both a way to address the contactless interface and the Secure Element? It would be nice to have a regular interface on all devices. Gemalto has joined OHA (in the Semiconductor category, which sounds odd, but I guess that the other categories are no better fit), so something is bound to happen at some point. Let’s wait and see.
P.S. If one of you can actually try stickybits, let me know how the thing is. App Store comments seem to refer to privacy issues (everybody sees what you have scanned), which sounds interesting, as it shows room for improvement.