Amazon heads off app fragmentation on Kindle Fire, Android

Amazon added a new developer feature called “device targeting” on Monday, which will making it easier for device owners to find the right applications for their particular smartphone or tablet. Mobile app developers can use device targeting to build multiple versions of their software so that the correct version is installed from Amazon’s(s amzn) Appstore for Android(s goog), regardless of the device. By allowing this, Amazon can help reduce or even eliminate any potential application fragmentation of software that works on some Kindle Fires, but not on others.

Here’s how Amazon explains it:

“While it is easy to support optional APIs and device capabilities within a single binary, you may decide that it is easiest for your apps to generate different binaries for the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD.   For each title, you can now offer separate APKs for Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD 7″, Kindle Fire HD 8.9”, and general Android (all non-Amazon) devices. “

This type of feature is needed now more than ever for Amazon. Why? Because instead of just supporting various Android phones and tablets with different hardware and screen sizes, the company has recently expanded its own line of devices. The original 7-inch Kindle Fire is now supplemented by a higher resolution Kindle Fire HD in both 7- and 8.9-inches.

Developers could simply try to manage the variances from within a single application so that their software automatically works in the proper combination of resolution and screen size, but Amazon is now supporting the ability to create apps specific to the different hardware combinations. This could mean vastly better tablet apps for the higher resolution Kindle Fires similar to the improved iPad apps that iOS developers made instead of scaled-up iPhone software.

Amazon says this new device targeting support helps in three ways:

  • Better search relevancy for your app. Instead of having multiple apps (i.e. an HD version and a SD version) for a single title, your app’s Customer Reviews, page views, downloads, etc. are consolidated to a single app—pushing your app up in search and relevancy rankings.
  • Reduced customer confusion. Customers won’t be confused by multiple device-specific versions of your app.
  • Device-specific feature optimization. You can tailor your APK for screen size and density, OpenGL compression format, and API version.

From a consumer standpoint, this should improve the Amazon Appstore for Android experience, and not just on Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Any Android device that has the Appstore loaded will benefit, which could in turn lead to more app sales for developers along with additional app revenues for Amazon. That’s important as Amazon has previously sold its Kindle Fire near cost, if not below, in order to get consumers to make Amazon-related purchases.