Much has been made about fragmentation of the Android platform. The
truth is that the Android platform is not as fragmented as developers
think. Google provides a set of libraries that allow older versions of
Android to get support for newer APIs. In this article, I'll create a
version of the Star Trek navigation application (from my previous column) that runs on Android 2.x to 4.x for handsets and tablets.
The Android Support Package is a set of static libraries with
additional APIs that can be used by an application. These libraries back
port some newer APIs to older versions of Android. At the current
time, there are two versions of the Support Package.
The v4 Support Package is designed to bring Fragment and other
support to Android 1.6 (API Level 4) and later. If a program needs to
use some new features and run on Android 2.2, this is the library that
it needs to use. Our sample application will use the v4 Support Package.
The v13 Support Package is similar in concept to the v4 Support
Package. This package requires Android 3.2 (API Level 13) or later. It
has some underlying implementation changes.
I hope you enjoy the article.