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Android chief Andy Rubin, seen here sporting a classic Steve Jobs-ian look, is quite unhappy about the media's portrayal of Android's "fragmentation" and "openness". He let loose in a recent blog post that largely reiterated his comments from a recent interview.  (Source: Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Complains that Honeycomb *is* open source, but just isn't ready for release

Google Inc. (GOOG) VP of Engineering Andy Rubin, better known as the Android team leader, posted a blog to the Android Developers site, entitled "I think I’m having a Gene Amdahl moment".  In the article he seemed quite upset about the reaction to Honeycomb in the press.

He accuses the press of spreading "misinformation...about Android and Google’s role in supporting the ecosystem."

On the issue of customization, he says that reports of Google blocking Android from going on certain devices are inaccurate/incomplete.  He says that Google does have basic compatibility requirements that device makers must meet to be licensed.  

But he says that basic restriction is necessary to fight fragmentation and that there are no further restrictions on the source.  He writes, "All of the founding members of the Open Handset Alliance agreed not to fragment Android when we first announced it in 2007.  Our approach remains unchanged: there are no lock-downs or restrictions against customizing UIs. There are not, and never have been, any efforts to standardize the platform on any single chipset architecture."

Finally, he turns to perhaps the most contentious issue of all -- the decision to temporarily close Android ("Honeycomb") 3.0's source.  He writes:

Finally, we continue to be an open source platform and will continue releasing source code when it is ready. As I write this the Android team is still hard at work to bring all the new Honeycomb features to phones. As soon as this work is completed, we’ll publish the code. This temporary delay does not represent a change in strategy. We remain firmly committed to providing Android as an open source platform across many device types.

It's unclear how this differs from story that we and other sites related to readers, based on Mr. Rubin's Bloomberg Businessweek interview in which he revealed the source is temporarily closing.  We write:

The company states that the code isn't ready yet for external modification, despite the fact that products are being sold with it installed, today...Despite that the decision to temporarily close the source may benefit Google and its customers experience, not everyone is happy with it.

As for the question of devices, it seems that Mr. Rubin is tiptoeing around the issue that Android Honeycomb in its current form is not allowed on smartphones.  Google may eventually allow it to go on smartphones, but for now the law of the land appears to be that Honeycomb is exclusively for tablets.  Smartphones currently are relegated Android "Gingerbread" 2.3, assuming their makers and carriers are kind enough to roll out updates from Android "Froyo" 2.2.



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The real reasons
By quiksilvr on 4/7/2011 9:27:17 AM , Rating: 5
Before this thread gets flooded with ignorance, here are real reasons why:

1) Honeycomb was rushed. They didn't want Apple to come out with another advanced tablet without an Android presence and Froyo/Gingerbread just doesn't cut it in the tablet world.

2) As a result of the above, Honeycomb is essentially a brand new operating system. It's not as simple as a firmware upgrade from Gingerbread. They have to integrate the two OS's together (which they plan on doing) but as it stands, we have a smartphone OS and a tablet OS.

3) Anand himself has stated that there are still some bugs that need to be worked out. Google would much rather try to fix as much as it can before opening out to the public and be thrown complaints about the bugs.




RE: The real reasons
By FITCamaro on 4/7/2011 9:43:31 AM , Rating: 2
Big +1.

I'm willing to wait. Looking forward to getting it on the Thunderbolt I'll be receiving as part of a new job I'm taking.


RE: The real reasons
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 4/7/2011 9:57:23 AM , Rating: 3
I didn't realize the RNC supported the Android platform ;-)


RE: The real reasons
By FITCamaro on 4/7/2011 2:40:30 PM , Rating: 3
Heh. Wouldn't work for them no matter what anyway.

No moving to a company to do Java development.


RE: The real reasons
By theapparition on 4/7/2011 11:19:09 AM , Rating: 2
Honeycomb will never be released on the Thunderbolt. Tablet only OS.

Gingerbread is the best there is for hansets now.


RE: The real reasons
By FITCamaro on 4/7/2011 2:47:54 PM , Rating: 2
Yes for now it is. Down the road we'll see.

I actually got confused between 2.3 and 3.0. But I'm sure once 3.0 gets flushed out, it'll be on phones.


RE: The real reasons
By OnyxNite on 4/7/2011 4:02:12 PM , Rating: 2
3.0 will never be on phones.

When it "gets flushed out" it will be 3.5 or some other version greater than 3.0 and it will then be on phones and open sourced again.


Does he realize?
By bug77 on 4/7/2011 9:48:44 AM , Rating: 2
As open-source an Android is, you can't get involved in development and you can't modify your phone's OS. You can't even legally upgrade it if the manufacturer doesn't approve first. Those are some issues that were around for some time.
Next they release Honeycomb, but not the source code (and for a good reason, imho, but that's irrelevant in this context).
And now he's wondering why people have doubts?

Hell, if you stretch that definition a bit, Windows is open-source since we'll all be able to look at the source code in a hundred years or so.




RE: Does he realize?
By Taft12 on 4/7/2011 12:41:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
you can't get involved in development and you can't modify your phone's OS. You can't even legally upgrade it if the manufacturer doesn't approve first.


You most certainly CAN do anything you want with hardware you own, even if the manufacturer doesn't like it (a carrier will surely not allow a modified device on their cell network, however)

And why would you say you can't get involved in development? Just because Google probably won't accept your patches doesn't mean you can't do some coding for kicks. Open source, GPL, and all that jazz.


RE: Does he realize?
By bug77 on 4/7/2011 2:55:40 PM , Rating: 1
First. Any modification you make, voids your warranty.

Second. You can't get involved because you have no source code. Google only releases that after they launch a new version. At that point, you can only do some bug fixing for them.

I'm not saying Google should manage Android the way I see fit. But what they are doing is highly unusual for open source projects. And now they're offended for catching some flak?


It's very simple
By Guspaz on 4/7/11, Rating: 0
RE: It's very simple
By adiposity on 4/7/2011 6:20:52 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. It is not opensource today, but it will be eventually (supposedly).

Google is doing something that is "open source" but it is not really in keeping with the FOSS movement.

GPL requires you distribute source if you distribute binaries, but even GPL projects can be released as closed source by the license holder.

So, Android is open source but Honeycomb is not, for the moment. What Google is doing is not breaking any rules, but it does say, "at any moment we can close android source and there's nothing you can do."


RE: It's very simple
By Azethoth on 4/7/2011 6:25:11 PM , Rating: 2
Well, you could reverse engineer the source giving you "Open Reverse Sauce". Less tasty, because anyone can make that.

I would not panic unless they keep doing this after they merge the tablet / phone code.


Sounds like an Apple excuse
By stm1185 on 4/7/2011 12:51:15 PM , Rating: 2
If they released the source code for Honeycomb they would get a bunch of people putting it on their phones and having a sucky experience and then complaining about this and that. Which brings negativity for the platform.

It seems that they are now wanting to keep the platform experience as a whole better and not releasing this code is the first part. Tackling the add on crap their handset makers toss on will be the next part of it; and I am betting 3.0 for smart phones will be a significant change for Android that moves it closer to Apple's way of business.

Didn't they have a fragmentation clause with 3.0 that when 3.0 hits more devices they can call in and push out HTC Sense and other UI changes, 3rd party apps, and what ever other garbage the phone company tosses on.




Facebook will be the tell
By Tony Swash on 4/8/2011 4:48:04 AM , Rating: 2
Nothing in the interview precludes Google holding back Andrioud releases selectively. Nothing precludes Google holding back releasing the latest builds from a particular OEM and not explaining that decision fully in public. Google's criteria, specific criteria, for why it would release a new build of Andriod to one OEM and not another is not public.

The tell on all this will be if Google let's Facebook access to the latest builds immediately and at the same time as Googles favourites. I bet they don't.




Who cares??!!
By Azzr34l on 4/8/2011 2:34:48 PM , Rating: 2
I just want to play with that badass looking helicopter thing next to him in the pic!




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