Free is too expensive (Economist)
Posted Mar 31, 2012 9:28 UTC (Sat) by khim
In reply to: Free is too expensive (Economist)
Parent article: Free is too expensive (Economist)
After all, the Google app store knows what sort of phone you have and can tell you beforehand whether an app will run on it
It's the other way around. Application includes minimum version of API in it's manifest file. Store only blacklists applications by the third-party requests (for example carriers like to blacklist tethering apps), it does not proactively track the compatibility story.
there's no reason why a similar approach could not work for Linux
There is: Linux desktop has no stable ABI thus if application works in distro M version N it does not mean it'll work in distro M version N+1. And forget about distro MM! Google's app store works because hardware vendors certify their variants of OS, not because Google magically makes apps compatible with some random crap.
It would be up to the app developer to provide the appropriate packages.
Does not work this way. Sure, some packages will provide updated versions to support different form-factors (for example some games needed to redo the controls when Android phones lost trackball), but it's mostly up to the OS vendors. Typical app developer releases app bundle exactly once.
There would in any case be no guarantee that any app was available for any distribution/architecture combination, much like Android apps today don't run on every single device out there.
It guarantees that it'll run. It does not guarantee that it'll work. There are a difference. If some required hardware is just not available then you don't have much choice: it's up to the app to decide how to handle the degraded mode. In some cases you can use some new hardware (not available when app was released) to emulate old APIs (witness ICS phones without hardware buttons and sensors: they emulate them), but usually user just looks on the program and decides if he wants reduced functionality or not. App developer is not forced to do anything in any case.
If we ever manage to agree on a reasonable standardised platform for third-party apps then so much the better, but it's not essential for the concept to work.
Yes, it is. Without stable ABI the whole concept crumbles. Developers don't want to track OS releases. They may decide to redo some flagman applications to make them better integrated with new OS - and even then it's not guaranteed. Most applications will never be updated.
That's why Intel is fixing this problem WRT Google Play Store, for example. Not Google and not app developers.
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