Fragmentation on Android – which way is North?


Android Fragmentation, Gyroscope Edition
[Via Daring Fireball]

Game Oven, announcing the postponement of the Android version of a new game:

In the Vine above are 7 devices all running the same compass app (ironically named Steady Compass) on Android. Yet, all compasses indicate that North is somewhere else. Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with electromagnetic fields confusing the compass; it has everything to do with the diversity of hardware inside these devices.

We have been developing Bounden for Android alongside its development on iOS, and have tested the game on a number of devices. It was only a week ago that we started expanding our list of test devices, after we quickly discovered that:

(a) some devices had ‘broken’ gyroscopes that didn’t work on all axis,
(b) that some devices were faking gyroscopes by mixing and matching the accelerometer data with compass data, or
(c) that some devices did not have a gyroscope at all.

Curious, I grabbed a handful of iOS devices laying around my house — iPad Mini and iPad Mini with Retina Display; iPhones 3GS, 4, 4S, 5, and 5S — and tried a similar comparison.


The Android devices differed by up to 120 ª. Goos thing no one really uses them as a compass. But it sure doe make thiem difficult to develop for,since every brand gives different results.

Meanwhile, all the iOS devices gave the same results. You could use an iPhone to navigate. And the developers make more money on iOS. At least if you hope to sell a $4 game.