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Is bloatware protected under the tenants of open source?  (Source: Optaros)

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, during a recent Q&A session  (Source: YouTube)
Google CEO says it would be violating one of Google's guiding principles to allow users to revert to stock configs

From skins like HTC's Sense UI and Motorola's Motoblur, to the deluge of apps installed on Android phones by carriers and hardware manufacturers, Android phones can be a bit cluttered at times -- much like their PC brethren. 

Many customers have wished in vain that there was a single, easy "reset to stock configuration" option, which will revert their phones to a stock build of Android and delete the excess.  Not so fast, says Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Mr. Schmidt, an opinionated figure in the tech industry and part-time evangelist for Google's philosophy, recently explained in a question and answer session why Google doesn't believe this is a good idea.  He states, "If we were to put those type of restrictions on an open source product, we'd be violating the principle of open source."

Of course "open source" is as wide and diverse an umbrella as possible in the tech industry, and Mr. Schmidt's definition of open source may be quite different from the next man's.

So other than taking the open source "moral higher ground", why might Google not want to give customers a quicker way to remove OEM/carrier junk?  Well one key reason is market share.  Google gives away Android for free, hoping that the mass adoption will more than make up for the development costs via advertising and app sales.  Part of the equation to convince wireless carriers and hardware manufactures to pick Android over a competitor (Symbian, webOS, Windows Phone 7) is allowing them to free modify their custom Android build to their heart's content.

But curiously, despite Mr. Schmidt's statement and the apparent advantages to adoption that not including a "clean build" option brings, Google reportedly will go in quite the opposite direction with Android 3.0 "Gingerbread".  Gingerbread will kill off custom OEM skins, replacing them with a single Google-made skin.  Of course the carrier-specific apps/junkware will likely remain, but Google's actions definitely show it to be quietly moving in the opposite direction, even as it defends customized deployments.


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It's open source
By macemoneta on 9/27/2010 6:02:31 AM , Rating: 5
There's nothing stopping someone from creating an app to reset the configuration to 'vanilla'.




RE: It's open source
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 9/27/2010 6:21:43 AM , Rating: 2
Ditto. It's funny how cluttered most opensource things are, especially operating systems. They end up no better than Windows half the time when it comes to pre-installed software that may or may not be useful stuff you want. This generally leads to the OS "splitting" or a new one being made in its place that is more streamlined and efficient. It's a never ending cycle as old as open source itself.


RE: It's open source
By quiksilvr on 9/27/2010 9:23:35 AM , Rating: 1
But it should be just as easily to remove the software the skin and have stock Android if the user wants it.

Motorola and HTC should not have the right to force users to use their skins if the user doesn't want it. It should be easily uninstallable as should the bloatware.

Verizon shouldn't have any right whatsoever to force users on the Samsung Fascinate to use Bing. It should be just as easy to switch to Google (or Yahoo if that's your thing) and not be forced to use it. THAT sort of thing should be regulated.

If you're going to be "open", make it open at both ends (giggity).


RE: It's open source
By cditty on 9/27/2010 9:48:49 AM , Rating: 3
I agree with you, but I do like my HTC skin better than stock.


RE: It's open source
By The Raven on 9/27/2010 9:39:35 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
It's funny how cluttered most opensource things are, especially operating systems.

What distros are you referring to? Are you talking about just preinstalled apps? Or real crapware? I see crapware as (for example) a superfluous wifi management client or a 'program' that links you to AOL or (my favorite) AV software that is impossible to remove.

With any open source OS I've seen, if you don't want something that is preinstalled, it is easily removable and easily replaceable.

And none of that crap on Windows is for free. That is just all some form of advertising. Not to mention, you PAID for Windows and you still have to have it subsidised somehow with ads.

I don't know what distros you are talking about, but even if there was real crapware on opensource OSs:
1) It is probably ('probably' because I'm not sure exactly what you are talking about) easily removable
2) probably non-intrusive
3) and understandably ad funded as you are (most likely) not paying for the OS to begin with.

You're standing in a Ysalamiri bubble, Master Kenobi ;-)


RE: It's open source
By kc77 on 9/27/2010 9:44:27 AM , Rating: 4
Huh? Cluttered? Compared with Gentoo, or Arch...maybe. Compared to Windows? Um, no. Most linux distros save for 1 asks you what you want to have installed anyway. You definitely have a choice. Even in the case of Ubuntu, I would hardly call gnome cluttered. They are limited to what they can fit on 700MB and usually it's the same stuff it has always been for years.

When distros "fork" it's not because things are necessarily cluttered it has much more to do with providing a distro that is geared towards a particular demographic or function. Linux Mint in reality installs more stuff than the distro for which it is based. Remix installs about the same number of programs and but has a custom UI geared towards notebooks and netbooks.

Considering that which ever open source distro you pick you're likely to still be under a gig or 2 versus Windows 10GB install it just doesn't make much sense. Calling open source OS's cluttered is like calling Vista stable. Sure compared with examples way back in the day when everyone configured their networks manually you could call it "cluttered" in that sense. However, compared with anything else being sold at retail it's still pretty streamlined and requires much less resources to get the job done.


RE: It's open source
By bug77 on 9/27/2010 6:52:40 AM , Rating: 2
Except for the little detail of the user not having root privileges.


RE: It's open source
By Iaiken on 9/27/2010 9:24:55 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
root privileges


Are easy to get on pretty much every single brand of phone except Motorola. Usually, there's a $2-$5 app for that which doesn't require any level of technical sophistication on the users part whatsoever.

You then go into Settings>Application Settings > Manage Applications and remove all the OEM crap.

Samsung even went as far as to provide the code FREE on the handsets SIM card.


RE: It's open source
By The Raven on 9/27/2010 9:49:16 AM , Rating: 2
Nice. As long as end users are FREE to do that, I see ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with Google's choice here. Besides, the carriers/handset makers are the ones who provide the support for these devices to the masses, so they should be FREE to modify Android to better support their customers (in theory lol).


RE: It's open source
By bug77 on 9/27/2010 10:16:58 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, the joy. I can get root access for $2-5.

Imagine Windows doing that.


RE: It's open source
By Iaiken on 9/27/2010 11:46:00 AM , Rating: 3
Most of the codes to unlock root can be gotten for free.

These apps are essentially charging for you for the convenience they provide.

Want to ruin their day, get the code, write a free app.


RE: It's open source
By The Raven on 9/27/2010 3:21:37 PM , Rating: 2
True but you can't just copy someone's code and be immune from a lawsuit. That is if you sell/publish it. I'm sure you know that just because something is available at no charge and has the source open doesn't mean that you can blast it everywhere. Check the license.


RE: It's open source
By Motoman on 9/27/2010 10:46:26 AM , Rating: 2
I would think that it would be a good idea for each hardware vendor to create such a "reset" feature on their phones.

I agree that Google shouldn't be doing this - but I think the handset makers probably should. It's in their best interests to give the user an easy way to go back to their default configuration.


I love Android but
By vectorm12 on 9/27/2010 5:34:28 AM , Rating: 2
I can't wait to get a chance to run a clean build of Android on my Galaxy S GT-I 9000.

Sure Samsung managed pretty well with the skin they built for it but the lack of features and many confusing functions are really starting to annoy me. Top that off with no OTA updates and the fact that Samsung still haven't released the promised update to 2.2 I'm starting to loose my patience with Samsung.

I never understood the benefit of locking customers into a specific system. It's not likely people are going to use crapware on their phones they don't want even if they are stuck with it until the root the phone.

I for one would like to see Samsung or HTC step up and released rooted phones where the consumer has control over the hardware and not the OEM/Google. I don't pay to license use of a phone. I pay to purchase a phone running a open-source OS that I can use as I wish.

Here's me praying Samsung will get off their ass and release froyo as well as Gingerbread for the Galaxy S GT-I9000




RE: I love Android but
By phantom505 on 9/27/2010 6:54:11 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think Samsung or HTC care as much as you think they do. However, the carriers they contract with care a lot. This mostly has to do with carriers demanding extra money for "features" you use such as tethering. It's quite a bit harder to gouge you when they don't have positive control over your phone.


RE: I love Android but
By vectorm12 on 9/27/2010 7:17:48 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah you're probably right, I guess the days of "make the enduser happy" are long gone.

The fact that the carriers differentiate between data that's going to the phone and data that's going through the phone to a different device over the same connection is just proof of how wrong serviceplans are set up atm.

After all there's no difference in the data no matter if it ends up in my phone or computer. As long as I pay for the data I consumer there's no reason to remove functionality from a product in order to earn extra money off already outrageous datacosts.


RE: I love Android but
By Spuke on 9/27/2010 9:23:25 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Yeah you're probably right, I guess the days of "make the enduser happy" are long gone.
The thing is that it's impossible to make everyone happy. And everyone has their own definition of happiness.


RE: I love Android but
By Iaiken on 9/27/2010 9:28:21 AM , Rating: 2
Um... My Galaxy tester phone has a "Homescreen Selector" app in the apps list. It has both the Galaxy and Android Home as selectable options.

Did this not make it into the retail phones?


RE: I love Android but
By mcnabney on 9/27/2010 9:55:34 AM , Rating: 2
Nope


It's really quite simple
By FITCamaro on 9/27/10, Rating: 0
RE: It's really quite simple
By FITCamaro on 9/27/2010 8:39:58 AM , Rating: 2
PS - "Because it looks cool" or "It has a fast processor" is not a valid excuse for bitching about a phone you chose to buy having a UI you deem to be crappy.

You have the ability to try the phone out in a store before you buy it. And you also have the ability to return said phone within 30 days and get a new one if you don't like it.


RE: It's really quite simple
By Redwin on 9/27/2010 9:24:32 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure why you get rated down for this Fit. Its true, nobody is forcing you to buy a skinned phone. I bought an Evo, but I happen to like SenseUI. If you don't, then don't buy one, or do, but realize you may have to root it to reskin it totally. Which, honestly, is not very hard on an Android phone, and many would argue that google doesn't mind it being that way for just this reason.

Open source cuts both ways... they can easily put what they want on the phone they sell you, but you can also pretty easily take it back off. If you really don't want it there, and really don't want to root your phone, then you probably just should get a different phone. Voting with your dollars is the proper response if you disagree with a company that stringently.


RE: It's really quite simple
By eskimospy on 9/27/2010 8:58:33 AM , Rating: 5
Clearly.

If you see a product that may wish to purchase you should not make any suggestions as to how it could be better. If a phone has 99 features you like and 1 you don't, do not for any reason attempt to voice feedback and displeasure at that one feature in the hopes that it will be changed. Instead, simply don't buy that phone and hope the phone company psychically figures it out for you.

This is a common tactic that works very well for our nation's girlfriends and wives, and I see no reason why we should not carry it over to the tech sphere.


RE: It's really quite simple
By FITCamaro on 9/27/2010 1:27:24 PM , Rating: 1
It all depends on how important it is to you. Usability is pretty high up there for me. If I like every feature of the phone but the OS skin makes it largely unusable, why would I buy the phone?

You give your feedback when you go to try the phone out and then buy something different. Handset makers do ask why a phone doesn't sell if its sales are poor.

Or again, you try it out and take it back. When you do, you tell them why. That information makes its way to the handset manufacturers.


Sure, Mr. Schmidt
By bug77 on 9/27/2010 5:29:55 AM , Rating: 2
Because now having the phone loaded only with the stuff I want is a restriction. And we can't have those.

Sadly, it has become clear a long time ago that from a buyer's perspective, Android being open-source adds little to no value.




RE: Sure, Mr. Schmidt
By Spuke on 9/27/2010 9:30:41 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Sadly, it has become clear a long time ago that from a buyer's perspective, Android being open-source adds little to no value.
It doesn't ANY value at all? LOL! Ok dude. I and the other 300 million plus actual Android owners are quite happy with our phones and see the full benefit daily of open source.


RE: Sure, Mr. Schmidt
By bug77 on 9/27/2010 10:21:23 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I ... see the full benefit daily of open source.


Such as?


RE: Sure, Mr. Schmidt
By Alexstarfire on 9/28/2010 2:35:32 AM , Rating: 2
Well, don't have to get Google's approval for apps. That's a big plus in my book.


RE: Sure, Mr. Schmidt
By bug77 on 9/28/2010 4:15:11 AM , Rating: 2
It is, but it doesn't have anything to do with open source. I don't need approval to install stuff on Windows either.


Android is mostly open for carriers
By Tony Swash on 9/27/10, Rating: 0
RE: Android is mostly open for carriers
By bug77 on 9/27/2010 7:48:08 AM , Rating: 2
Let's not forget why Google got in the game in the first place: to sell ads. That's all there is to it. As long as they provide you with a way to browse the internet (and therefore look at their ads), their job is done. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Luckily for us, because of rival platforms, Google still has to provide an enticing user experience.


By Spuke on 9/27/2010 9:27:20 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Google still has to provide an enticing user experience
Which they do. I and others are MORE than happy with Android.


The English
By eBob on 9/27/2010 9:36:03 AM , Rating: 3
The caption under the screen capture from The Simpsons should be "Is bloatware protected under the tenets of open source?" Tenants are renters; tenets are principles.




I must be reading this wrong.
By UnWeave on 9/27/2010 3:39:21 PM , Rating: 2
"If we were to put those type of restrictions on an open source product, we'd be violating the principle of open source."

What? How is adding an option to revert to stock a restriction? Surely not being able to do so is a restriction.

I'm pretty sure he's just saying that because he has to. If they let you get rid of all the carrier's crap, carriers would get pissy. They put that stuff there because they want it there... or think you want it there. Or something.

I do think the lack of customization for 3.0 might be an issue, though. OEMs no longer have a way of distinguishing themselves (e.g. HTC Sense is great, I prefer it to stock). Also, they better have employed some dedicated UI guys, because vanilla Android is a bit of a mish-mash at present. I'm all for function over form... but come on, it's not even that consistent.




Unfortunately, he is right
By Lerianis on 9/28/2010 12:50:51 AM , Rating: 2
Crap-ware is covered by open-source principals. HOWEVER, it should be the CUSTOMER who decides whether to install the 'crapware' that the mobile phone company is pushing, AFTER they get the phone home.




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