Categories: Global Tech News

Android Chief Blasts Press, Claims Android is Still Open Source

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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