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Google's Definition of 'Open' 168

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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  • Works for me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @11:44AM (#46254601)
    Until Apple burst on the scene Carriers locked their platforms down, charged insane amounts of money for dev kits ($20k+) and were generally jerks to their customers. They had little or no desire to improve since they were making lots of money selling slightly better handsets and super high prices. Google does a good job reigning that in. The carriers aren't powerless in this equation either you know. I like that they're all at each other's throats :P.
  • hey guys... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @11:45AM (#46254603)
    try making an iOS device and taking on the Apple Empire...
  • Didn't stop Amazon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AmericanBlarney ( 1098141 ) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @11:53AM (#46254643)
    With the Kindle, I think the Amazon has been one of, if not the most, successful at embracing what Android provides as a core, but extending/customizing it to support their preferred business model. Sure, they did a lot of work on their fork of Android, but if other companies aren't willing to put the work in, don't complain about something you're getting for free.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2014 @12:01PM (#46254685)
    That's not the point of this article. This is about OEMs being able to sell devices with Android on them, but not include Google's standard apps.

    It's weird FUD. I wonder what Microsoft expects to gain from it?

  • Google Play Services (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cseg ( 253752 ) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @12:19PM (#46254763)

    Honestly, in my opinion the most offending point of Android is Google Play Services. Google making all its services depending on one another is something we've all been seeing for years now, one could argue that we're expecting and used to it. Now, a service at the center of it all, which can do anything it wants, whenever it wants, that's honestly going too far in my opinion.

    That's point #1, actually.

    #2 is the fact that for many people (myself included), the days of tinkering with devices is over. It can be a hobby sometimes/for some people, but I for one like to separate what I rely on from what I play with. So at best an Android device would be a toy, not something I rely on daily.

    Now, if anyone can point me to a simple/reliable way to use Google's Android without Google Play Services owning the device, and without being forced to nurse custom/specific distros/ROMs for it, I'd greatly appreciate it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2014 @12:38PM (#46254859)

    On the contrary: this generation of phones are some of the most tinkerable devices that have existed. Just because you have lost interest and/or ability to tinker with your device doesn't discredit the millions who still do.

    That being said, the ROM you want is Cyanogenmod. Sure, you could replace all the google stuff yourself and put in your own features, but 99% of the time you will have a carbon copy of Cyanogenmod, it just took you weeks/months to make it instead of an hour to install it.

  • by elwinc ( 663074 ) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @01:31PM (#46255059)
    Agreed. For me, the big draw of standard Android is maps/navigation/traffic. Decent speech recognition is the cherry on top. Being able to whip out my phone and say "navigate to airport" is worth a lot to me. The premise of the original article, "One of Android's biggest draws is its roots in open source" just doesn't ring true for me. In fact, I doubt it's true for the vast majority of Android users. I would suggest that Android's biggest draw is the price vs feature tradeoff. I'm aware that we aren't getting the main google apps for "free" but for many people they are getting them at an acceptable price.
  • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @02:39PM (#46255349)

    Amazon is a success story here, but it's also a cautionary one. When most people envision an "open" Android, they envision a world where up-and-comers are capable of disrupting the old guard, yet the reality is anything but that. Instead, what we see from Amazon's example is that the cost of entry for launching your own fork is owning an established media delivery system, having an already-established app store with tens of thousands of apps available from day one, and having a world-class backend on which to build alternatives to Google's services.

    Who else has the resources to do something like that right now? By my count, no one. Microsoft would be the closest, since they have Azure and an established media content ecosystem, though they'd lack for Android apps. Sony? They lack for apps as well, though they're a possibility, since they have a media ecosystem and backend built up around their Playstation brand, which has tens of millions of users. Samsung? Probably not. They don't have the sort of ecosystem or services that could pull people away from Google.

    The point is, while Android itself may be open, it's not truly open to anyone but the biggest players in the game, so long as the most valuable parts are kept locked away by Google. The problem isn't that Amazon had to do "a lot of work on their fork of Android", the problem is that they had to do a lot of work establishing themselves in those other areas for years in advance before that fork of Android could even possibly be considered viable.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.