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Google's Definition of 'Open' 168

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-may-ride-the-bus-but-we-are-driving-the-bus dept.
An anonymous reader writes "One of Android's biggest draws is its roots in open source. It enables a broad range of device manufacturers to work from the same code base, and provides app developers with more insight into the platform they're building on. But openness isn't a binary condition — there are many shades of gray. While Android is technically very open, from a practical standpoint it's much more difficult for device makers to distance themselves from Google, if that's their preference. 'Phone manufacturers and carriers that want to use Google's services must conform to Google's device standards, a stricter requirement than what basic AOSP requires. For some, this is a catch. For others, it's merely the cost of doing business. ... [Dianne Hackborn, one of Android's tech leads,] defends Google's right to include proprietary services, and to keep them proprietary, saying that its no different than any other proprietary app on Android. That's not entirely true, since Google does keep some API development to itself, but to its credit the company does open-source most of the new APIs introduced to Android.'"
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Google's Definition of 'Open'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2014 @11:35AM (#46254557)

    Google’s iron grip on Android []

    Great story how Google gets it grip on Android.

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @11:39AM (#46254569)

    You can use other apps and app markets on your android device. You don't have to use Google Search, Maps or Mail because there are free or very low cost alternatives to them and they don't have the clingy, Google scam you out of your data smell. Getting rid of them is a snap in most cases and there's literally dozens of websites that can help you do it. Sure when you get an "update" from your phone maker you'll probably get them all back again but it's easy enough to remove them or you can go with something like Cyanogenmod and never worry about it again. There are alternative AOSP based distros out there that don't have that Google smell so look around, It's really not that hard. If you've never rooted your phone or sideloaded an app or changed the OS it can be somewhat intimidating but you can also find help out there online and via local phone store kiosks (forget the pimple crowd at the Sprint, Verizon or AT&T stores) who can set you up in no time.

    I do have to say that the nicest thing about Android based phones is that there are alternatives. For example, I don't have Google Apps and use Skobbler for the navigation. It uses OpenStreetMap and I recently downloaded a couple of countries and really like the fact that I could navigate, offline.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2014 @11:57AM (#46254671)

    Great story how Google gets it grip on Android.

    However, as a counterpoint, here is a far less histrionic story which shows that AOSP is growing FASTER than Goog'es own Android, and has already easiy eclipsed iOS market share. Not to mention Nokia's Normandy phone, to be released later this month running a forked version of AOSP matched with Nokia serices rather than Google ones.

    ABI Research reports that Android once again dominated the Q4 2013 shipment numbers for smartphone advanced operating systems with 77% market share of over 280 million smartphones shipped in Q4 2013.Nearly one billion smartphones were shipped in 2013, Android accounting for 78% across the year.

    Android’s dominance is not quite as rosy as it seems though, with most of the growth coming from forked Android operating systems (137% year-on-year), mainly in China, India, and adjacent markets. Forked Android or AOSP accounted for 25% market share with 71 million unit shipments, as opposed to certified Android’s share of 52%, of a total of 77% market share. []

    For some reason, there's a concerted campaign happening to try to convince people that Google has locked up Android. It's an odd thing to pretend, and I'm wondering what their motive is?

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @12:21PM (#46254785)

    Please, one of the big ones needs to be our knight in shining armor and make an Android phone without all the Google tie-ins. Make your own app-store that doesn't require a login or GUID from users, only from authors. Make a map and navigation app based on OSM. Include offline calendar and to-do lists, with optional syncing to a computer or an open source online service. Resist the urge to replace Google's apps with your own proprietary apps. Just make a phone worth buying.

    You mean a Kindle?

    Or you can just buy a phone that has good Cynogenmod support and stick with the F-Droid [] open source app repository.

  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @12:38PM (#46254855)

    However, as a counterpoint, here is a far less histrionic story which shows that AOSP is growing FASTER than Goog'es own Android

    Except you left out the part that says AOSP is growing faster than Google Android only in China and India.

    As for the Ars Technica article, it's not histrionics to state facts:

    Google apps—mainly Gmail, Maps, Google Now, Hangouts, YouTube, and the Play Store -- are Android's killer apps, and manufacturers want these apps on their phones.

    While it might not be an official requirement, being granted a Google apps license will go a whole lot easier if you join the Open Handset Alliance. The OHA is a group of companies committed to Android—Google's Android—and members are contractually prohibited from building non-Google approved devices. Joining the OHA requires a company to promise to not build a device that runs a competing Android fork.

    Acer was bit by this requirement when it tried to build devices that ran Alibaba's Aliyun OS in China. Aliyun is an Android fork, and when Google got wind of it, Acer was told to shut the project down or lose its access to Google apps.

    This makes life extremely difficult for the only company brazen enough to sell an Android fork in the west: Amazon.

    Since the Kindle OS counts as an incompatible version of Android, no major OEM is allowed to produce the Kindle Fire for Amazon. So when Amazon goes shopping for a manufacturer for its next tablet, it has to immediately cross Acer, Asus, Dell, Foxconn, Fujitsu, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, NEC, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and ZTE off the list. Currently, Amazon contracts Kindle manufacturing out to Quanta Computer, a company primarily known for making laptops. Amazon doesn't have many other choices.

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell