Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The Huawei Disaster Reveals Google’s Iron Grip on Android (onezero.medium.com)
322 points by samrohn 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 342 comments



Google invested Billions into Android.

Samsung tried to hedge for this by building Tizen(Bada) and realized how much needed to be invested to get an Android competitor going, so they kept the development going, but focused for their Smartwatches, as this would have to be a "if the worst happens" plan, not something that could be a profitable venture.

LG has the Palm/HP borne WebOS for their TVs, i suspect with a similar idea at the back of their minds.

Everyone else? They're too small to realistically try to save their smartphone businesses when the green robot becomes their enemy.

Google bought this platform with every dollar invested over more than a decade, they didn't do this only so that Apple had a competitor, but so that THEY had control over mobile eyeballs.


It’s possible that Google cutting off Huawei will actually backfire, because it makes having a viable alternative to Android a MUST HAVE instead of just NICE TO HAVE.

Perhaps it’s possible to resurrect Blackberry 10 ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BlackBerry_10 ) for example, which seemed to be an impressive piece of engineering that got trampled by Blackberrys failing business. I played with a demo once that could run Android apps and was amazing at multi-tasking thanks to its microkernel architecture. Plus would be governed by Canadian export laws I guess. Perhaps I’m just daydreaming though.

Either way think it’s going to lead to more mobile OS competition again, which is a good thing


I have both an S9 and a BlackBerry Q10 on me every day. The BB10 OS, even though its now defunct, was designed in a way that it is FAR easier and more practical to use. I really, really hate the Android interface as a result.

1: BlackBerry hub is a lot nicer to view messages

2: Smart use of Bezel gestures makes it much easier to actually interact with the phone:

-If you want to access the hub while using an app, you take your thumb from the bottom of the screen and swipe up and to the right. The interface is very forgiving of where you swipe, you can do it without even looking, yet you wont accidentally do it either. If you don't want to fully enter the hub and just take a peak without leaving your app, just do a partial swipe.

-If you want to view all your running apps, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to the middle of the screen, and voila , you get a tile arrangement of your running apps (easier to view than a Rolodex), as well as phone and camera access. And you are also less likely to lose track of what windows you have open. I find lots of peoples android phones have like 30 windows open - this is a fault of its interface.

-If you want to access your apps, swipe up from bottom bezel (shows running apps), and then swipe left, now you can view all your other apps.

-Every app is expected to have its settings menu accessible by swiping down from the top bezel.

There are no silly little cumbersome function buttons at the bottom like Android has (the back/home/apps buttons). Smart use of bezel gestures make this unnecessary.

Everything can be accessed easily in a simple, comfortable gesture with your thumb. As a result, it is a lot faster to use day in day out. And it is not as cluttered as Android.

I am sad the whole world chose Android. It's a crappy interface.


BB10 is nice. Meego, as seen in the Nokia N9 was a really good UI too. Extremely elegant card interface, that meshed so well with a curved OLED screen. In 2011.

I would love to see an alternative to the iOS / Android duopoly. One way to go would be a better F-Droid ecosystem, and pure AOSP.

But perhaps, even better, a true Linux userland. Maemo lives on with Jolla. Although I hate they still have many closed components.


Sailfish is the OS that runs on Jolla and nowadays also on the Xperia X and XA2 phones, although I heard it is not really available in the US (why?).

It's somewhat of an alternative to iOS & Android and feels like running Linux 20 years ago. You are making it harder on yourself.

Running Android apps with microg installed on it provides a decent fallback.


Maybe the Purism Librem 5? https://puri.sm/products/librem-5/

The UI is still very much a work in progress, though. But it's fully open source. Based on GNOME.


To my knowledge, this is based on Plasma Mobile which shares some features from the KDE Plasma desktop environment and uses Qt for widgets.

https://www.plasma-mobile.org/


How the buttons that are always there cumbersome?

I personally don't like gestures. You have to remember and get used to them. Then suddenly in a major update they will change everything to new "cooler" gesture, re-learn and get used to it again. Year after year that happens.

Compare that to buttons. You can always see them, so no need to remember anything. Older people also able to use them.

Of course new shiny mobile os have mixed both together and now we are guinea pigs of modern UI.


I'm with you. I couldn't make gestures into something that was good for me. My current phone lacks physical buttons (except for power and volume up/down), and I've never stopped missing them -- it's my #1 complaint about the phone.


The android buttons in most cases these days are not hard buttons but soft ones that could just as likely change at the whim of Android, using your own hypothetical situation you came up with. They are cumbersome because usually it takes two hands to press them, as they are small buttons at the bottom. You end up needing one hand to hold the phone and the other to accurately press the button. With thumb-gestures, you can do it blindfolded in one hand. In addition, the buttons take up screen real estate.

Also, have you actually used the BlackBerry gestures? Upon getting a BlackBerry, the very first thing it does is a 1 minute tutorial explaining how to use the gestures. There are only a few. They really aren't complicated. They just take a brief explanation and the reward is you get a more functional interface.


Agreed!

I was a BB Classic user for about 2 years before jumping ship to iOS for practical reasons.

Aside from what you mentioned, I would also bring up that, at least on the Classic, the little touch nub/joystick/trackpad thing was actually incredibly handy. It could act as a mouse, which meant that you could use "Desktop" websites very easily, since you didn't have to try to fat finger tiny little buttons. And since it was essentially a real mouse, hovering worked to, which is nice for sites that required that.

For those that have never seen one, it was a small button, about the size of an iPhone home button, but the surface doubled as a capactive trackpad, I assume with similar tech to those used in laptops, but far more sensitive. I still used the touch-screen a fair amount, but having a mouse was wonderful when you needed it.

The hardware on the Classic was just fantastic... long battery life, good build quality, and a SIM+microSD slot.


I totally wish my Q10 had a trackpad. They are very handy.


> And you are also less likely to lose track of what windows you have open. I find lots of peoples android phones have like 30 windows open - this is a fault of its interface.

There is no need to keep track of them or close them, since the app lifecycle is managed automatically by the system – having a window (called activity on Android) open doesn't mean that the app is running.

Non-foreground activities are automatically suspended by the system and resumed when you return to them. Processes with suspended activites are automacially killed when resources run low.


That does not at all change the fact that the user ends up with a mess of open windows, regardless of whether they are burdening the OS.


Who owns BB10? Are they any more able to do business with Huawei than Google?


I share a similar feeling, but coming from Symbian and WP.


>It’s possible that Google cutting off Huawei will actually backfire, because it makes having a viable alternative to Android a MUST HAVE instead of just NICE TO HAVE.

I got the impression that the United States forced their hand.


Yeah, the narrative on a lot of these stories "Google bans Huawei from Android", "Microsoft drops Huawei laptop from store", etc. are kinda silly, as the headlines suggest these companies had anything to do with it. They're following the law.


There is Sailfish which won't be affected by the US government https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/mobile-tabs/hua...


It would not be surprising if Huawei attempts several strategies in parallel and buys several small mobile OS and mobile UI technology companies at once.

Buying both Sailfish and Qt would be peanuts for Huawei.


Really? Do you think Samsung and LG would be more likely to develop not to mention support an Android competitor? This ban is the best thing that happened to Korean mobile phone manufacturers for years. Huawei was breathing down Sammy’s neck things are looking much bright for them now.


Not really. The situation is much more opening the space for OTHER Chinese vendors to jump in and grab the market. Samsung is already selling in all channels where Huawei is, so they have their shelf-space allocated already. That slot will not remain vacant. LG can surely grab a bit more business in short-term for sales-channels they were not selling to, because even if they are not in a specific channel, they have products ready and tested for the market to fill the gap immediately. TCL/Alcatel has maybe some opportunities in low-price device-tier as well, because they have established relationships with many carriers and retailers.

On the other hand, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, Xiaomi are all not sanctioned by US, all of them offer comparable products with a very similar price and aggressively try to expand their international presence.

So I expect mainly a Oppo/Vivo/OnePlus vs. Xiaomi vs. TCL/Alcatel fight for every slot Huawei is at risk to lose...


EE (owned by BT) launched its 5G lineup in London this week.

They dropped Huawei but had a OnePlus instead.

More Chinese brands pop up every time you try to cut one off ;)


After this fiasco, I'm more than ever willing to change to Huawei. Best yet if they change to a platform not based on Android. I'm done with Google (and Android soon) in every possible way.


Uh, so an app store without:

Netflix, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, Gmail, Outlook, Chromecast, Dropbox, OneDrive, YouTube, Twitter, Google search ( or duck duck go), Amazon, Amazon video, 2fa authenticator, iftt, Wikipedia, Skype, messenger, Snapchat, Instagram, Waze, Google maps, Ted, Wolfram Alpha, ... I'm pretty sure there is one of them that you use recurringly.

You're going to use that OS?

The only Chinese app I use is eWelink and I really want to flash that device to be more flexible and dump it.


Most of those have functioning websites you know? All you'd need is a half decent browser.


You don't need apps for Google search, Wikipedia or Amazon, and I don't think this ban is going to extend to blocking websites for western consumers using Huawei devices.

The others I don't use, so it would be OK for me.


Eg: Google is paying for being the default search-engine.

So Baidu will be the default search engine on any browser that will be used ( since they can pay).


> You're going to use that OS?

I would. Nothing in that list is indispensable to me.


Not everyone uses them.


Not all of them, some of them :) I'm just pointing out the "most regular used"


As first step I switched from terrible Android TV to WebOs and it's absolutely amazing OS. I wonder why nobody is using it in smartphones.


Apps.

That, to me, seems like the real barrier for any new smartphone platform. It happened with Windows Phone, a platform backed by a huge company and even using a very popular language and platform.

I think WebOS and Firefox OS were before their time a little given the rise of progressive web apps, but I still don't think they're a complete answer until they can use native UI elements.


yeah. this discussion seems to mix up android's success as an ecosystem and android's quality as an OS and a technical achievement.

android's large market share is attributable to many things beyond the software itself, which, in any case, owes a heavy debt to Linux. replacing android as an ecosystem will require enticing a large 3rd party developer base to write apps. the worldwide android developer community is full of developers eager to you know, like, make actual money on their apps. if Huawei can create a new app marketplace where that happens for these developers, they should be able to attract abundant talent. they should imitate Apple, not Google.


>WebOs and it's absolutely amazing OS. I wonder why nobody is using it in smartphones.

It used to be [1], but was a victim of HP's incompetence.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Pre


Oh sure - short term yes this is a win for Samsung over Huawei but long term it sends a very clear message that the future of their business depends highly on Google and the winds of US foreign policy. You don't want to be the person presenting to the Samsung board "Future Risks: Donald Trump"


Right but when US technology cannot be depended on long term, the default foreign position many will take is to avoid or route around it.


US foreign policy doesn't change on a whim as some people like to make it out to be. The economic dispute with China has been in the making for decades at this point.


>Do you think Samsung and LG would be more likely to develop not to mention support an Android competitor?

Samsung tried this with Tizen, IIRC:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tizen


I believe that is not actually google that cut off Huawei, but but US government prohibits any US company to make business with them.


Both are true. Google cut off Huawei because the US government told them to.


It is not like they had an option. They are a US based company. They must do it.


I fully agree. Google had to comply, but it is not in its advantage because it shows that Google is too much powerful and that is problematic.


No, it shows that the US is too powerful.

All the craziness about preventing American internet companies from dominating the Domestic Chinese market makes total sense now, doesn't it? If the Chinese economy had been built around Facebook, Google etc. the US would have a lot of leverage, since they're all US-based companies and _must_ comply with whatever US Government asks them to do.


The Chinese government has prevented plenty of US companies from doing business in China including Google, but more importantly is the rejection of patents and intellectual property and espionage conducted by Chinese government, which has cost US companies billions and the US government hundreds of lives.


> which has cost US companies billions and the US government hundreds of lives.

Can you tell me with a straight face that the CIA, NSA etc. do _not_ have active espionage activities in China? Do you think valuable intellectual property and state secrets exist only in the US? That as a result of these activities, the Chinese Government has not also lost lives?

Do not buy so easily into propaganda. Nations will promote themselves as the only "Good" nation to their own people throughout the world. Because the US is a democracy, the US Government has to be very careful and frame the narrative in a way that's not an outright power grab.


I'm sure Indian tech companies/government are watching this play out as well.

Google may lose a lot more business than it seems at first glance.


IANAL and it's not clear to me exactly what method was used to "force" Google. We ignore the FUD over Huawei's telco equipment because that has precisely nothing to do with their smartphones. What's left, then? Sure, they probably have all sorts of monitoring tools built into their phones, but so does every other smartphone manufacturer. What made Huawei different, and what legal instrument conveyed this difference to Google's lawyers?


Yes, the US forced them to exercise their iron grip... thus demonstrating Google's previously unexercised power.

The US has power over Google. Google has power over android. TFA is about the latter.


They can move their HQ somewhere else.


BB10 is based on QNX platform, I strongly doubt that QNX is independent from any US assets, patents, licenses, so moving from Android to BB10 is just "more of the same"


QNX developer here. I don't think what you're saying is true. QNX has patents registered in the USA, and in other countries, but that's hardly relevant. It's a Canadian company owned by a Canadian corporation.

BB10, on the other hand, is dead and buried. It would be easier to port something like UBPort's Ubuntu Touch to QNX as an alternative to Android.


What's QNX used for nowadays? Car infotainment systems? Anything else standout?


You can run your in-car infotainment system on Linux, Mac OS, or Windows. QNX can run your brakes and your ignition. Your car dashboard (cockpit console). Your insulin pump. You cancer treatment radiotherapy device. Interplanetary space probes. High-speed rail systems. Everywhere you need software to just always work without a "Windows has experienced a problem and needs to restart" or the Linux equivalent of just silently hanging and requiring a hard power cycle. QNX predates phones by decades, the BB10 was just a passing thing.

But sure, it's also in infotainment systems and at the heart of self-driving cars.


QNX being built from the ground up as a realtime system is a big part of it's reliability and suitability to these tasks I imagine?


Blackberry is a Canadian company. Harman International (the former owner of QNX) was a subsidiary of a South Korean company.

I don't understand what you mean about "US assets, patents, licenses" -- what are you thinking about here?


Had blackberry made messenger multi-platform 15 years ago, and released an email app for iOS and Android they would still own the business market.

Even in 2019 email sucks on a modern smartphone compared to blackberry in 2004.

I'm still hoping Apple wakes up and releases messenger for Windows and Android before that ship sails. They claim to be a services company but they still can't seem to let go of tying it to devices.


> They claim to be a services company but they still can't seem to let go of tying it to devices.

They've shipped apple music on Andriod since day 1, have had it on Sonos for several years, and in the last 6 months have announced & started to ship TV on tons of actual TVs and non-apple straming boxes.

They've 'let go' of tying services to devices, but iMessage isn't a paid service so the advantage to shipping it on other platforms is lower.


>They've shipped apple music on Andriod since day 1

They acquired a product (beast music) that already had an Android version and didn't deprecate it, congrats?

>have had it on Sonos for several years

Sonos had to pay a license and write the code... I'm not sure I'd hold that up as an example of them being open.

> started to ship TV on tons of actual TVs and non-apple straming boxes.

Literally hasn't been released and isn't scheduled to be until "Fall of 2019".

>They've 'let go' of tying services to devices, but iMessage isn't a paid service so the advantage to shipping it on other platforms is lower.

Right, so charge for Messenger on other platforms. Nobody asked them to give it away.


>> started to ship TV on tons of actual TVs and non-apple straming boxes.

> Literally hasn't been released and isn't scheduled to be until "Fall of 2019".

“A whole new world of entertainment just opened up, because the Apple TV app is now available on select 2018 and 2019 Samsung TVs...”

https://www.samsung.com/us/support/answer/ANS00082624/


It’s possible that Google cutting off Huawei will actually backfire, because it makes having a viable alternative to Android a MUST HAVE instead of just NICE TO HAVE.

It's a must-have for the small companies like Xiaomi that only or mostly make smartphones. But they can't afford to develop an android alternative.

Huawei and Samsung make lots of things other than smartphones and can just leave the market if need be. It's less expensive for both of them to shutter their smartphone business than it is to develop a viable android alternative that developers would want to code for and that consumers would want to use.

Either way think it’s going to lead to more mobile OS competition again, which is a good thing

Unlikely.


Isn’t Android open source? So why can’t Huawei simply fork it?


Google has spent the last decade cutting apart the open part of Android and making it more and more proprietary.

Launcher, Phone app, Messages, Contacts, Calendar. All proprietary.

Notification API, Location API, SMS APIs and step counter APIs, and even the new app format. All proprietary.

It's a huge undertaking building an app for Android today without using Google's services, and sometimes even impossible.

If you want to verify a user by sending a code through SMS (think Whatsapp sign-up) you either have to use the proprietary API, or you'll be banned from the play store. Using the open source API instead gets you banned because it allows you to read all SMS — and Google never cared to build a new open source API because they already have their proprietary API anyway.

And nowadays you don't have APKs anymore but often app bundles, a special format which only the Play Store can parse.

And if you create a new app today, per default you don't even get the signing key to publish APKs yourself, but only Google gets to keep it.


> Google has spent the last decade cutting apart the open part of Android and making it more and more proprietary.

Replacing those bits is still less work than writing your own entire OS. There are even open source projects to replace those bits.


Yes, microG exists and is amazing — but even it is only replacing an absolutely tiny part of the APIs, and even those it can’t replace fully yet and a lot of work is still to be done.

I remember days when Android was still open, nowadays I’m fighting against the ever-increasing restrictions with my open source apps with every single OS update.


No, no, no - GP isn't saying replace the bits that support the proprietary Google services.

They're saying that there's easy and simple drop in replacements, app and service wise that can hook into better services/ones you host.


There are? Now that’s interesting, because I’ve spent the past 5 years developing open source Android apps and such projects. (And e.g. my app Quasseldroid is also on F-Droid)

I’d be interested in what existing, working solution for a FCM replacement there is? Replacing the apps is simple, replacing the services is the hard part.

If there is a working open FCM alternative, please link it, I’d immediately add support for it in my apps.


If you're reading this, and would like to see a solid selection of these: www.F-Droid.org


Phone companies tried to replace the open versions first. Google was faced with either: a different version of Android on each phone (with the apps replaced,) or making their own versions.

Note too that they could have gone the Microsoft IE route and declared various apps as part of the OS. Instead they made their apps separate from Android, and let them succeed by bundling them together. Amazon Fire is at least one example where the Play Store et al. are not installed.


>Fire is at least one example

/thread

To answer the big question in this thread. Yes, Huawei can simply fork Android. It will be a pain in the ass, expensive, and not as usable, but they certainly can.

Google's "iron grip" in this instance is only ostensible, not literal and complete. HN is not immune to clickbait.


They kind of actually already did, like all the chinese companies. Because CCP banned google from chinese market years ago. Banning all CCP related corporations should have been implemented as a part of opening to china. or at least as an answer to CCP's censorship protectionism, etc.


> different version of Android on each phone (with the apps replaced)

No, their action actually lead to this in the first place — previously, each manufacturer slightly modified the AOSP apps, now each manufacturer actually builds their entirely custom apps for this purpose, as most can’t or don’t want to license Google’s apps for that purpose (they license the base Google Play apps, but e.g. not messages or the phone app or the launcher).


> It's a huge undertaking building an app for Android today without using Google's services, and sometimes even impossible.

F-Droid developers manage to do it. Sure, they might not publish their apps on the Google-Play Store (some do, actually) but so what? Any Android user can freely download these entirely open apps and install them on their own, by pre-checking a box in the phone settings. That's still more than you can say about iOS!


I’m a publishing apps on F-Droid myself, so I’m speaking from experience there.

Right now I’ve spent months on getting a full clean-room reversed version of Google’s Firebase Cloud Messaging system’s client library working, and we’re still nowhere close to that.

The final goal being that we can have one, fully GPL app, which can utilize FCM if it’s installed on the phone, either through the proprietary Google Play Services, or through microG, but which can also work without it otherwise (while also avoiding any tracking or telemetry)

And trust me if I say Google’s making this for us devs harder with every update.


> Right now I’ve spent months on getting a full clean-room reversed version of Google’s Firebase Cloud Messaging system’s client library working

Thank you for that.


> Right now I’ve spent months on getting a full clean-room reversed version of Google’s Firebase Cloud Messaging system’s client library working

Thank you for that! I'm very sceptical of Googles "soft lock-in" and will switch to MicroG Lineage sooner or later. So every inch helps.


So that is a great bait and catch strategy. Start open source and after market dominance move over to closed source.

We need anti monopoly measures to prevent this kind of thing.


Huawei did the same thing. Started out with their phones being unlockable (not that it did much good, the hardware was hell to work with), then took that away. Even on existing hardware. That's when people in the consumer tech community figured out "okay, these clowns definitely can't be trusted". We didn't need Trump to tell us that!


All 'Android' phones sold in China did not rely a tiny bit of those Google stuff, as Google's existence in China has been negligible since it was blocked.

All major 'Android' manufacturers in China somewhat customized launchers with unique UXs. Notification services were always chaotic and every platform provider woke the phone up to checkout pending notifications and drained the battery. And this list of abyss easily expanded to App Markets and other features.

So blocking Huawei from Android might create some troubles but it would definitely not be around these proprietary features where other proprietary counterparts existed, at least in China, Huawei's home market.


> If you want to verify a user by sending a code through SMS[..]you either have to use the proprietary API, or you'll be banned from the play store.

Is this only in cases where the app reads the SMS as soon as it's received, and authorizes the user without any further user input?

Because I've done similar authentication stuff for some website logins (like a real estate listings one) where they require me to punch in the code I received via SMS. This was an interaction that occurred independently of Play Services I would imagine.


So, that “huge undertaking” is exactly what LineageOS is, isn’t it? So couldn’t Huawei fork that?


so google is pretty much oracle?


> so google is pretty much oracle?

No. They play an entirely different league of evil. Google is orders of magnitude more evil. Hint: it is very easy to live without oracle.


My only remaining dependency on Google is YouTube, and I could do without that in a pinch, although I’d definitely miss it.


What's your gMaps replacement, if any, out of curiosity?


Not the parent poster but I use Here WeGo on Sailfish running on the Android subsystem.

It's ok.


The OS is open source, Google Play Services isn't.

When you are developing Android apps, you can leverage Google Play Services for all sorts of functionality, such as push notifications and maps, and I would say more apps do use these than don't.

Huawei can still put Android on their phones, but not with Google Play Services. This means that many Android apps just won't work. They also can't supply the Google Play Store, which means that they need an alternate way to distribute apps.


Google Play can be rewritten from scratch to look like the real one and point to open source repositories, but the real hassle are device drivers: they're tight closed to the point there's not a single person in the world who managed to install a 100% open OS on a phone or tablet; even Purism themselves had to use some closed blobs here and there. Closed firmware/blobs/drivers are the #1 problem; that's the battle to send more troops to, not play stores or apps. The day we eradicate them from devices is the day we can consider those devices really open and trustworthy, the day no entity in the world, not even the original manufacturers, can suddenly decide to make a device obsolete forcing the user to buy a new one.


What about the baseband?


I understand carriers don't want the average Joe to mess with the radio, I'd be totally ok with that, so I would agree on closed source firmware on baseband if it was limited only to that use: a fully separated system that deals with connections and nothing else. All data could be en/decrypted on main device CPU, so that the radio closed firmware would essentially have full access to noise. Of course IP addresses could not be masked, but they would be available anyway to authorities with full access to cell towers and traffic.


Huawei could make their own Play Services, API-compatible with Google, then all apps would work the same. Maybe that's what they actually do now.


As the article says, Amazon spent _years_ trying this approach and ultimately failed with their phone project.

So sure it's possible, but it's not as easy as you perhaps think?


Oh man, the Fire Phone has so many problems as a product. As someone who turned a large Android Google Play app into a Fire Phone compatible one, I think it took me literally a day to swap out the Google Maps implementation with the Amazon Maps one and that was very nearly it. I'm convinced that the hijacking the swipe to go home was the real killer of that thing. I honestly don't know how people actually used that thing because scrolling on any list in any app basically left you with 50:50 odds of heading back to the home page.

I'm not stating that the problem isn't hard, just that the Fire Phone had other issues.


Amazon tried to make their own copy of Play Store, not Play Services.


Huawei already does this in China, where Google services are blocked.

Their problem isn't implementing these things. Their problem is convincing non-Chinese developers to port their apps to Huawei's ecosystem.


Well, yes, but maybe the failure was more due to not many users being willing to accept that much vendor lock-in, rather than issues with Amazon's Android version?


Amazon's phone failed because it was a new product in a very crowded market that didn't offer anything new of significance.


Aw c'mon, it's just software.


They not only forked it, they also improved it. They are e.g. the only one who built their own secure Annex K C11 extensions, besides Android Bionic. Android first did it with an old HP stlport, and then Bionic did it with C++ (Google style). Huawei did it in 1998 already in C.

They also are using safer xen compartments, as Amazon did until recently or Qubes is doing. kvm is fast, but certainly not secure.

Personally I trust Huawei more than Google, and esp. LG, Sony or Samsung. The current war on Huawei looks like Huawei is denying the US their backdoors into the baseband layer on 5G. Loosing 5G would be big for US intelligence, and good for privacy. China getting access into 5G backdoors is not as worrying as continued US abuse.


I think the main issue is the play store is off limits i.e. no existing android apps


The play store is unavailable within China anyway, so alternatives certainly exist.


The play store is not the sole way to distribute apps. You can download the .apk files, or get them by mail, or use another play store that has the same apps. The play store is just a repository of some apps.


I believe the Play store is treated 'special' though - F-Droid can't install apps in the same way unless you're rooted and install the priv-app.


On a phone licensing the Play Store sure. But on a Huawei phone free of those restrictions they can make it use any store they want without any special restrictions. Of course, it becomes a question what that means for security, but still.


I did not root my phone yet, and I install apps with f-droid just fine. The only thing I had to do, if I recall correctly, was enabling third party apps instalation


Try it again and watch the process closely. You'll get an additional prompt when you use F-Droid that doesn't appear with the Play store.


Indeed there is an extra confirmation step, and it freezes some processes (specifically, those that alter the screen, like red shifters)


That seems like a violation of anit-trustlaws. I'm surprised the FSF hasn't pursued this route against google.


I don't think that the lack of Google Play would be a huge problem. I use Android devices in the US and don't use Google Play.


Why do you think Google is working on Fuschia? The second a major competitor forks android in any meaningful way, I guarantee they switch to Fushia and stop all further contributions to Android.


> I played with a demo once that could run Android apps

But of course Google would never allow BB users to access the play store ...


Google kinda pulled a "bait-and-switch" with Android.

When they released it, it was pretty much 100% Open Source, then they moved more and more elements to their proprietary GApps suite, included the Play Services required to run even many 3rd party apps.

At this point Android is barely more Open Source than iOS and its Mach kernel, but the difference is that Google got its market share by selling to manufacturers the fact that they're independant because it's Open Source.


> Google kinda pulled a "bait-and-switch" with Android.

> When they released it, it was pretty much 100% Open Source, then they moved more and more elements to their proprietary GApps suite, included the Play Services required to run even many 3rd party apps.

I thought the reason they did this was because third party phone makers were controlling when/whether users could update the OS on their device. So users were often several Android releases behind, even on a phone that was only a year old. By moving a lot of the core functionality into apps, users could update these apps and have access to newer features even on older OS versions.

Though, I guess that doesn't explain why the apps themselves aren't open source.


This is not what happened. From 2007-2009 HW manufacturers had no answer to the iPhones Software.

Sure you could build a phone on top of Windows Mobile, Sonys Xperia X1 is my favorite entry from this time period, but you had no consolidated Software Vision for a mobile OS. Customers were craving phones that were as accessible as iPhones were, with a good example being the datepickers in mobile safari. You couldn't fix this with a Custom Windows Mobile Homescreen. Neither Nokia, nor anyone else in Mobile Phones at the time had thought about the software part as much as about the hardware. Even Andy Rubin got smacked in the face by the iPhone Keynote, but his advantage was the lack of organizational and technological debt that anyone else watching this keynote in a position to act plagued.

Apple was highly regarded inside Google when it comes to design decisions and is so until this very day (Why again does my Pixel 2 lack an 3.5mm socket?) so for Rubin simply adopting the design and ui vision while following different engineering principles was a path that had less hurdles for him than for everyone else in the position to do something about it in 2007.

That's why Android is where it is, not because Google decided to go the OpenSource way with it. Customers decided this was the only viable alternative, they brought money to the platform and developers followed.

Sure it was a lot fun stuff happening on the platform aswell that gave it the positive look, but this didn't affect the relevant apps to stay iOS only until they couldn't afford to anymore, simple market share decided that.

Device Manufacturers were desperate for anything, if they had to pay license fees for closed source software or not wouldn't have mattered if there had been a viable answer to iOS in 2007.


Embrace, extend, and extinguish.


Are you aware of the microG project? It is entirely possible to run Android apps without Play Services. Is it perfect? Far from it but it's disingenuous to say "Android is barely more Open Source than iOS".

If you want to add in the Play Store into the mix, things change slightly.


> Google bought this platform with every dollar invested over more than a decade, they didn't do this only so that Apple had a competitor, but so that THEY had control over mobile eyeballs.

Google's biggest trick was developers. They leveraged the decaying state of Java, and it being the default CS language in a lot of places. They simple showed a more attractive opportunity to tenths of thousands of Java devs stuck in ungainful employment in "enterprise software" sector.

Nobody else in the world managed to get so much of developer mindshare overnight ever.

Developers, developers, developers, developers... Balmer got the idea, but did not know how to get it.

Jobs realised it too late, and spent too much effort toying with Internet only apps in time when most of USA was on class 2 GPRS.

Andy Rubin, well I'd say, got the right solution almost by accident, and only realised its value later in Android's life.


Makes me think whoever comes up with a mainstreamed way to do cross-platform mobile apps in Python will easily capture a large share of recent college grads, too, then.


> cross-platform mobile apps

Against platforms actively fighting you? Good luck with that!


There is the beeware project trying to do just that. I don't think it has enough people contributing to get there at a reasonable pace though.


Kivy already does that?


What about webasm ?


Ah that's easy. Just get python to js with wasm, then use react native.

That would be interesting to see!


Symbian supported Python actually.


The did and called it kotlin. Those people were Google and Jetbrain.


Except Kotlin isn't Python, it's Java with modern syntax and coroutines.


Jolla did and failed.


Well, Jolla was a meme company. The best shot a normal Linux had on mobile was during N9 era, and late Meegos.

After that things went sour:

  - GTK+/glib dev community began to wither simply because of older members retiring, and no new blood
  - DRM flamewar with record labels
  - Android diverted a great amount of community resources
  - Monopolisation of smartphone SoC market.
  - Elop...


RIP the late Meego OS. Im still salty with how Nokia murder it. Its like a healthy beautiful baby just born and then the parent buried it alive to focus on their terminally ill older brother.

However, the parents cant handle the debt and commit suicide, entrusting older brother to his rich uncle. Sure enough, the older bro didnt live long either. After a long coma, the plug was pulled on the older brother's life. Even his rich uncle cant save him.

What a waste of resource


Not Elop really. The Nokia board had already decided to sell to MSFT and brought in Elop to do it. If the N9 hadn't been delayed by years, things could have gone very differently. In retrospect, the biggest surprise was that the years delayed N9 actually turned out to be very good. Extremely delayed products are more often bad than good when they are finally released.


I wonder at what point it makes sense for Samsung, HP, Huawei, LG etc. to get together to make another OS... they sell a lot of phones across the globe.

Hell, even include Microsoft in there too.


If those companies were interested in investing the billions required for such a venture, they wouldn’t have gotten into this situation in the first place.


I don't think it's that. After network effects kick in, the chances for creating a viable OS are extremely slim. They could have invested three times what Google has invested in Android and still fail.


Almost 3 billion people will be online in India and China alone, and they aren't strongly interested in sharing domestic private data with foreign entities (Facebook, Google, Apple).

Creating another OS seems like an inevitability.


I'm wondering whether it would make sense for the Chinese government to sponsor a phone OS. That would take care of the collective action problem a single manufacturer would face, would make it harder for other countries to employ the strong arm tactics current used with Android, and would help the Chinese government enforce their own censorship and surveillance priorities.


windows Phone was a viable OS and none of them jumped in completely. I don't see collaboration happening now. It's still more profitable to play ball with Google and profit from Android.


why would Samsung or LG want to partner with Huawei?


Why not? Microsoft and Google partner on TypeScript. Sony and Microsoft are partnering in online gaming. Many of the automakers have partnerships with each other for supplying engines and/or transmissions... sometimes they even build complete vehicles for both manufacturers: Chrysler/VW, BMW/Toyota, GM/Toyota, Chrysler/Mazda. Sometimes there are good reasons to work with your competitors.


This is different from Korean manufacturers this time. This is China caught in a national security issue.

- China has a huge domestic market and it may be sufficient in itself for a profitable venture

- About half of Android phones are manufactured by Chinese brands.

- China has deep pockets and are willing to play the long game.

- They have no choice. Trump's used the nuclear option, which may well work in the short term but in the long term this has shown China and others that they have to get rid of their reliance on US tech and companies as a matter of national security.

I think Trump's move has set a ball rolling and that in 10 years we'll see the results of that... And that won't be a pretty picture for the US.


I don't get why you're being downvoted. China just needs a Deng Xiaoping moment for software. If they try top-down control, even with all the Chinese brands behind it, it will still founder behind Android.

But if they relinquish some control for the sake of getting a competitive OS where they can't be cut off, what you're saying is true. I do see them capable making an OS, technically, I'm more worried about their worldwide soft skills/soft power. Which I'm guessing they'd also want to improve, so you never know.


Trump's used the nuclear option, which may well work in the short term but in the long term this has shown China and others that they have to get rid of their reliance on US tech and companies as a matter of national security.

Indeed. Trump's heavy-handed approach in recent weeks seems likely to have far-reaching implications, and presumably the results won't be favourable for Western businesses hoping to expand more into fast-growing Asian markets in the years ahead. He's shown that any business with strong connections to the US can't be relied upon to be an economically rational trading partner, because the US is now demonstrably willing to conflate national security issues with trade policy.

That policy is also putting US allies in awkward positions. Here in the UK, we are faced with questionable demands from a long-time ally (the US) and thinly veiled threats from a big investor (China) if we comply with those demands. Presumably other allies such as Australia feel similar opposing pressures. The only rational long-term strategy I can see for nations in this position is to be clear that they will always make their own strategic decisions on security matters and which global suppliers to use for national infrastructure projects (and then to actually do so, throwing a proverbial elbow at the US if necessary). At least that way you maintain some credibility with future governments around the world as a reasonable partner.

In the meantime, it seems that the current hostile stance toward China from the Trump administration in the US is hurting the global economy, and ironically it also seems like US consumers are the ones ultimately paying most of the cost of those trade barriers.


> ironically it also seems like US consumers are the ones ultimately paying most of the cost of those trade barriers

Consumers will pay more but I'm not as sure about the irony. Couldn't it be that the intent is to reduce US consumption of Chinese imported goods? Couldn't the policy's intent simply be to shift the economy ever so slightly away from consumption and toward production?


Couldn't the policy's intent simply be to shift the economy ever so slightly away from consumption and toward production?

It certainly could be, but I think how credible that is depends on the goods affected. If they are essentials and there is competition from elsewhere, the barriers make China less competitive, and US customers will presumably go for the best deal to minimise their losses. If they are non-essentials, the barriers also make them less attractive, and again China loses out. But if they are essentials and China is the only game in town, import tariffs look a lot like a tax on the US market.


This was always China's desire, to basically build home grown tech's that could replace the ones they were using from the west. Unless the Chinese government mandates use of a single os (no android) in the domestic market then it won't work, if they do then they still don't have a viable os for the rest of the world because the rest of the world wants google, facebook and other apps which are banned in china. Facebook e.t.c. aren't going to make apps for a primarily domestic only phone where they are legally banned.


China is shifting its factories to Africa, eventually growing a market there. It won't matter what apps irrelevant markets like North America or Europe want while the rest is using Chinese services.


That's interesting. Do you have any more info on where they are putting those factories?


Everywhere from Nigeria to Lesotho basically.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35288650-the-next-factor...


They are building infrastructure across the whole continent, connecting all major ports.

Expect that this will cause a decline in EU GDP as the remnants of colonialism get displaced/replaced.


Why would it cause a GDP decline? A strong Africa is good for the entire world economy. Another billion wealthy people to buy goods and services, travel and invest.


GDP would increase, correct. As a percentage of global GDP, it will decline.


Yeah, I don’t know about factories per se. Its more been about infrastructure around raw materials export.


Chinese brands have huge market share in many countries outside China (e.g. close to 50% in India).

Facebook and others will make apps for them...


Chinese brands also have about 50% of the market in Thailand, followed by Samsung and then Apple. Not as big as India, but annual sales of around 20 million units is still a decent chunk of change.


I think Google can compete on its own merit without having to be viewed as a monopolist, so I disagree that it won't be pretty for the US. Google will do fine on a more level playing field.


I think the post you replied to may not be referring to Google, but to all the other companies that will have a choice to build for a future Asian giant or US giant (Google). Knowing that they can be cut off by US Gov, may push investment east.


The problem is not Google per se, but the power the US government yields through Google and tech companies in general.

If 50% of Android phones are by Chinese brands then once an alternative exists they will have a big incentive in dropping Android. The end result can only be a massive market share loss for Google.

The same goes for other tech companies like Qualcomm, ARM (not US but in same boat). Anything that can be weaponised.

This is geopolitics and a global strategic issue. Google is just caught in it.


Is it about security? Because Trump is saying he wants to have a deal with Huawei now...

Or is it about the trade deficit? In which case Korean and Japanese manufacturers are not safe from prosecution.


It is certainly a national security issue for China (and the world) to see that the US Government is able to 'flip the switch' on so many critical tech so easily.


Sure. But for South Korea and Japan it's less so; those nations already take a national security posture that leaves them exposed if the US were to turn against them.


South Korea and Japan have been allies of the US for quite a long time and have zero reason to think that would ever change.


There are lots of reason for a company or a country to have alternative independent supply chain (hardware or software or tech or anything).

Japan has to sign the Plaza Accord https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaza_Accord#Effects when it positioned to challenge US economy. It is attributed as the main reason to their Lost Decades. You bet that Japanese forgot about this, and Korean and Chinese do not know this.

What US gov initially wanted probably is something like Plaza Accord with Chinese, but they have the size to resist, so Trump showed the nuclear option. Like some commenters pointed out here, it may work in short term, but it will hurt US companies in long term.


Exactly - so "the US could flip a switch and sabotage our technology" may not be a particular concern for them.


Isn’t KaiOS [nee FirefoxOS] open-source in a way where any of these companies could just... use it? (In the same way they can “just use” Android now?) Why do they need to make their own?


> so that THEY had control over mobile eyeballs.

I am getting ready to leave the commercial smartphone world entirely, in large part to escape Android. I want to escape Android primarily (but not only) because of the very thing you said here.

Google is making it harder and harder to use Android devices in a secure way, and for me, the cost/benefit of using it became too high a while back.


I'm glad that nails are starting to be placed in Google Play's coffin.

As it stands, Android's whole notification system (3rd party apps included) relies almost completely on communicating with Google servers. Seems like a bad design if privacy is a concern.


> Seems like a bad design if privacy is a concern.

True, although having one endpoint does have some advantages for battery life and api consistency.


Is not most of android open-source enough to fork? Sure you'd lose all the google integration and the binary blobs of the play store, but if you were 'going alone' you'd not care that much about the play store anyway as you'd diverge from android prime over time.


> A made-in-Europe non-Google-led OS might gain more ground among risk averse governments and enterprises — as a sensible hedge against Trump-fueled global uncertainty.

> “Sailfish OS, as a non-American, open-source based, secure mobile OS platform, is naturally an interesting option for different players — currently the interest is stronger among corporate and governmental customers and partners, as our product offering is clearly focused on this segment,” says Jolla co-founder and CEO Sami Pienimäki .

> “Overall, there definitely has been increased interest towards Sailfish OS as a mobile OS platform in different parts of the world, partly triggered by the on-going political activity in many locations. We have also had clearly more discussions with e.g. Chinese device manufacturers, and Jolla has also recently started new corporate and governmental customer projects in Europe.”

https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/20/trumps-huawei-ban-also-cau...


iow, Google did what any company would do in the competitive marketplace--as they should.


Does it reveal Google's iron grip on Android ?

Really ?

I'd say it rather reveals most users' unhealthy addiction to Google's services, without which, this whole thing wouldn't be the 'tragedy' and wake up call it's turning out to be for many.

I have used Android for a decade now completely Google-free and no one could pay me enough money to be tracked and to run pure spyware 24/7 at this point... I enjoy immensely having a laptop replacement always on, always with me, in my pocket. No use for Play Services, advertising companies data mining all I do at all times, or 27, 42 or 59 'social media' applications running to give purpose to my life and 'communicate' with my 'friends'...

File manager, web browser, terminal, editor, LTE... That's what I need or care about. I guess not many of us left.


Unless you get an iPhone, you have really haveno other choice....at least not without forgoing most apps. This is the problem with walled gardens in general. Even if Microsoft kills certain things for Chinese made laptops...the OS still allows you to run programs which are not reliant at all on these APIs, because Windows is generally not a walled garden.

My hope is that Chinese companies start making a new OS, and Google sees this and makes their APIs more open and free so in such an event not everything is rendered inoperable.


Could you share your current phone model and OS?


I use several devices, lately usually HTC or SONY. I run my own build based on a barebones cleaned up LineageOS ( no Lineage applications or many libraries ), just need the core OS and monthly security patches up to date. Applications are my own binaries, packages available through Termux, and from developers either through F-Droid, GitHub or XDA forums.

I only need LTE and very rarely WiFi, so Bluetooth and NFC if available on device are disabled and neutered. Devices are encrypted but hold no data other than that in use, all data is always kept on external encrypted cards, and those go up to a tera now, so no issues even with large, very large files. Makes no sense to me that people tie data to a device, be it laptop, smartphone, tablet or desktop.

The 'phone' part is just for emergencies; police, ambulance, that sort of thing. Otherwise even a mid-range device works as a fully fledged laptop substitute for me, can be my main computer, and has for years.

Edit : Most of what I use is open source, and no adware, spyware, analytics, or crash reporters anywhere on my system. The current software business model based on data mining needs to die. Also, a decent web browser does, and better, what 90% of so-called 'apps' do.


How do you message people?

SMS only?


Mostly E-mail. ( We had mail in phones in Japan way before iOS or Android. SMS has always looked like a regression if you ask me. )


You could use signal for messaging. But why not SMS? It is not like text messaging is owned by anyone like WhatsApp or Telegram.

I found that my only requirement for a smart phone is the Uber and Lyft apps. If I can get somehow free of them I can switch to a Nokia 1100 and be happy.


The article links to an interesting view on how even AOSP is a no-go for Huawei: https://www.xda-developers.com/analysis-huawei-aosp-google-b...

What I find interesting is that Apache Licensed software can be relicensed even in proprietary form (as long as you make it a derivative work, with your derivative bits with a proprietary license), thus the easy way out seems to be to have a non-US entity make a proprietary fork of AOSP. I do not see a legal reason why this company would not be able to sell AOSP to Huawei under these conditions.

I am sure plenty of us remember the days when free and open source encryption software was distributed exclusively through non-US servers due to US export restrictions.

IANAL, so I wonder if I am missing something?

As for alternative platforms, I imagine plenty are US based/originating (QNX, webOS from Palm/HP originally, Android), but there are alternatives like Jolla and Ubuntu Touch which aren't.

While I dislike Huawei since they decided to stop sharing unlock codes for their phones, Huawei has one killer app that's not very much reliant on Android: camera.

Getting that camera app on one of the less known platforms and enabling Huawei phones for them would still make them appealing to a large number of customers in eg. Europe.


> What I find interesting is that Apache Licensed software can be relicensed even in proprietary form (as long as you make it a derivative work, with your derivative bits with a proprietary license), thus the easy way out seems to be to have a non-US entity make a proprietary fork of AOSP. I do not see a legal reason why this company would not be able to sell AOSP to Huawei under these conditions.

IANAL, but: any such fork would remain a Derivative Work of AOSP in which Google would hold some copyright. When Huawei came to redistribute it, they would need licenses from all the copyright holders - this company, Google, any other contributors. Normally this does not matter: the Apache license states "each Contributor hereby grants You...", and You is defined as "an individual or Legal Entity exercising permissions granted by this License".

No doubt the US government can enforce whatever capricious fines it likes within the US. But I find it hard to imagine a European court finding Huawei guilty of copyright infringement for distributing Google work that came with a clear, simple license granting them permission to distribute. If the US government wants to say that Google can't grant that permission, that's between Google and the USG. And given that the Apache license states that the grant of permission is "perpetual, ..., irrevocable" and came with a copy of AOSP that Huawei has no doubt downloaded and read years before the current crisis, trying to revoke that permission now doesn't work either.


Is the article really right in this one?

" A country banning its resident companies from engaging in contracts with a specific company breaks how our copyright system works, and as a result, breaks how open source licenses work. -- If Huawei cannot enter into a contract with Google, then they cannot enter into the Apache 2.0 licensing agreement with Google, which means that they would not have a license to distribute the AOSP codebase."

If we look at the cited license (https://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.html) it's just a one sided license from the copyright holder, not a contract between parties, right?


Software licenses are contracts.


> Software licenses are contracts.

As lawyers usually say: it depends.

https://lwn.net/Articles/747563/


Very interesting. So if this lawyer is right about the US, we need a new open source license that is explicitly designed to be not contract-like, to defend against Trump?


> Getting that camera app on one of the less known platforms and enabling Huawei phones for them would still make them appealing to a large number of customers in eg. Europe.

Except that camera itself is not a killer-app. The major use-case of a mobile camera BY FAR is not just to capture content, but to share the content on social media, also in Europe. So whatever less-known platform the camera-app would be moved to, that platform would still also have to provide a good user-experience for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc. So in the end, that less-known platform would need a SocialMedia app-ecosystem comparable to Android just to match the Android-experience for Camera...


This is really interesting and raises further questions from me:

- Can open source licenses be unilaterally revoked?

- Is Google the sole proprietor of AOSP?

- If there are other proprietors of AOSP, do they have a say?


Lock-in through privileges in access to infrastructure, control via default services, "system as a service" etc means OSS licences no longer provide much of a guarantee towards the ownership and control of your own software and hardware.

But this has been the case of a long time already.

Maybe a consortium of China-backed companies (Huawei, Xiaomi, OnePlus, etc) could create a viable fork of Android and/or put enough weight behind an alternative app store that it could be a viable alternative for the mainstream (say, F-Droid, Aptoide, etc).

Thing is, on such short notice they will struggle and it doesn't seem like they have preemptively prepared to a full-blown switch of OS/ecosystem AND also an architecture switch (British ARM also joining the US sanctions).


I believe that if Google doesn't license AOSP to Huawei (whether by their own free choice or not), it might be that they are in violation of the Linux kernel GPL2 agreement that they have made with Linus / Linux Foundation.


As long as no one distributes it (binary or code) to Huawei I don't think they would be in violation of the license. They aren't personally required to do so.

But anyone with access to the binaries (not in the US I guess) is allowed to redistribute it to Huawei, and the GPL then requires google to grant Huawei a license, not doing so would appear to be in violation of the license.

> 3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided [irrelevant terms here]

> 6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to this License.

IANAL


Elaborate?


Users of GPL licensed software such as the Linux kernel, are bound by the terms of that license to release modifications under the same license. Android and AOSP incorporates and uses the Linux kernel; this is the entire reason AOSP exists. You cannot pick and choose which users you distribute sources to under the GPL.


Once you are completely blocked from doing business, what do you lose by infringing copyright?


The article speculates legal judgements & fines for violations. So, lots.


How can the US fine Huawei if Huawei is not allowed to operate (and thus doesn't operate) in the US?


Other, friendly jurisdictions, e.g. UK


We had this piece of news the other day: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19979626

ARM, a UK company stops doing business with Huawei because of US pressure.


Any hope of being unblocked?


I think that article is taking the wrong approach. If Huawei doesn't have a US presence, which they won't after this, and if they really are an arm of the Chinese espionage complex then what's to stop them from just downloading ASOP source and doing whatever they like with it, based on ARM's reaction is unlikely other western countries are gonna allow Huawei much longer so it really only has access to the Chinese market where it's protected. Now it's role will be more FBI vs CIA.


QNX isn't US based, it's canadian.


It reveals the value Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen created in the GPL, how much market forces will tend toward monopoly, and how we've let up on resisting those trends.


Yeah, and it also reveals what the world would look like if Windows phone won instead of android. Atleast for Android you have AOSP, which is atleast somewhat open source. If Windows phone and iOS were the only two alternatives, a ban on a phone company like huwaei would be a death sentence. Can't do much with windows or iOS.


The app ecosystem is a mess on AOSP. It feels like google just uses it to show a faux openness but there is no way that a non-enthusiast will get the experience they have in one of the 2 (formerly 3) major brand app stores. And that's really what this is about: app ecosystems. Making a good OS is easy, but getting mindshare/appshare is difficult (as microsoft learned the hard way).

AOSP makes no difference I think. If you are locked out of the official store, you are locked out of "Android" as people recognize it.


Yeah, the entire Chinese android ecosystem is doing Okay with the official store. Would the same have been possible without Windows Phone? What would huwaei be able to do at all if they were selling Windows laptops. Android may not be linux but it is miles better than other mainstream mobile OSes.


Europe could disallow preintalled app stores so everyone can install their own app store of choice.


And everybody will still install Play, Because many apps need Google Play Services.


Just remember the shit Microsoft had to do with the browser selection screen.


which was a direct result of Google suing them to show it.

oh the irony!


Pretty sure that it wasn't Google doing the suing. I remember it being Opera. Did Chrome even exist back then?


yes


That would be fine since people will have the choice of the hardware they want.


Then you think those people will avoid being able to install 90% of apps?


Wouldn't help. The only 2 viable stores out there are the apple and google official ones.


Would they do the same for iOS too?


I hope so. It's not a technical reason that there is only 1 store on iOS.


I would assume any regulation will need to be vendor neutral so yes. I am just pointing out that Europe is not powerless even though I think the odds isn't high that they will do something like this.


So basically making the mobile OSes more windows like in easily allowing people to install malware?


This is an intellectually dishonest argument as it conflates the definition of "malware" between platforms.

Mobile application permission systems don't cease to exist in the absence of a sanctioned app store. The only thing that disappears is the ability for Google or others to completely remove an application that is abusing the permissions a user granted: but the permissions are still there.

Even in the worst-case scenario, malware on modern phone operating systems is substantially more limited in disruptive and destructive power than what one can achieve on Windows without a UAC grant.


>Mobile application permission systems don't cease to exist in the absence of a sanctioned app store.

Permissions systems definitely do not anything against malware. See: all the flashlight apps with every permission under the sun.

>Even in the worst-case scenario, malware on modern phone operating systems is substantially more limited in disruptive and destructive power than what one can achieve on Windows without a UAC grant.

Sure, but it can still collect all your pictures, have access to your microphone/cameras, and tarck your location. It's better than full control of your device, but it's not that much better.


> Making a good OS is easy, but getting mindshare/appshare is difficult...

Making a good OS is hard, and getting market share in an established market is very, very difficult.


I assume a large company like Huawei can replicate the play store experience. Is there anything stopping them from creating a mirror of the most popular .apks?


Copyright?


AOSP is fully open source. What is not is google services.


A propreiatry software is better than a bullshit opensource software. At least you know what you are getting into.


There shouldn't be any problem than. Huwaei or anyone else can make their own "proprietary" operating system, since it is better than "a bullshit opensource software", and they can happily get higher margins there and be happy forever.


So they trigger the PRC gov to build their own OS. A temporary setback or worse? Who do we bet on in 10 yrs? State sponsored technology or Google?

My bet is on China.


Lol do that seems like a strange bet. State sponsor rarely win in those cases


Yet here we are, talking to each other over the state-sponsored internet.


Thanks Al Gore!


Do not forget that Huawei is ahead with 5G. So with plenty of resources Huawei has shown to be the leader in one area and there is no reason to assume it cannot do that in other areas.


It is very impressive, but software is a very different business.


State sponsored != state run.


Mossad would like a word with you :)


So they trigger the PRC gov to build their own OS

They've tried before. Anybody else remember Kylin and Red Flag OS?


which ended with Microsoft running to give them windows source for inspection.

redflagOS was a huge success when you see the goals and few resources invested.


Maybe we'll see a WeChat OS? :)


I for one have been using a Honor (Huawei) phone for over 3 months with DNSFilter app running 24x7. Blocked all google domains after I installed the necessary apps from playstore. I don't see any problems if google shuts of Honor/Huawei devices permanently. I'd say it will be a benefit of Honor/Huawei phones. It will be the most privacy friendly phone out of the box.

Edit- I use Newpipe instead of Youtube. So thats the alternative for the last google service I'd need everyday.


In my experience it is relatively easy to migrate off of Google services, except for the cloud messaging stuff. Unless you don't care when you get messages and only want to see them when you check (or god forbid only use email), you want GCM/firebase to work.


For me, not having any Google code would be a selling point if anything.


It seems that it is up to Europe to give its people the choice in hardware and software by making appropriate regulations.


It’d be a better world if Europe could give people more choices by... giving them more choices, instead of regulating the choices that other countries provide and fundamentally control.


I'd really love to see that as well, but at the same time I have zero trust in our governments' ability to choose the right project/company/people to support/fund/subsidize.

I do hope they consider pushing alternatives, but also that it's a more organic process where "the market" has some say and not a move to give plenty of money to a university/company only to shut the project down after a few years of failure.


The purpose of regulation is to change the environment to allow for a more level playing field. Where would Spotify have been if the EC didn't force MS to unbundle Windows Media Player from installs of Win XP in 2004? For those who don't remember, WMP 9 already had streaming radio via the MSN entertainment arm.

Competition doesn't happen overnight. The changes need to be in place for some period of time before entrepreneurs consider a new product/software in that sector to be viable.


This completely disregards mobile - without which Spotify was completely irrelevant. Un-bundling WMP, in the long run, did virtually nothing.


Spotify started in 2008 with 40 million tracks and desktop and web clients only. Back then mobile streaming was a non-entity as the iOS and Android app stores had not launched.

So the business case for Spotify was very much focused on desktop users, where WMP would have been the dominant competitor had it not been for the Microsoft case.


Huawei is a massive company with a large lineup of affordable Android phones. Why can't they just fork Android just like Amazon and Microsoft?

I guess they would have to come up with alternative to google play marketplace, gmaps, gmail, etc. but it's not really a big deal with the resources they have. Not to mention that the open source equivalent of these apps are serviceable.


Don't think it is that simple for a couple of reasons:

1) Without GMS, developers will need to fork their apps and reimplement everything they use Play services for today. That's non-trvial and I suspect a substantial number of developers would not be willing to do this.

2) Even if Huawei developed their own app store, IAP framework, etc, as I understand it the order in the US prevents Huawei from entering into any new business with US companies without a license. So, does that mean that FB, Twitter, et all would be prohibited from listing their apps? I believe so.


>1) Without GMS, developers will need to fork their apps and reimplement everything they use Play services for today. That's non-trvial and I suspect a substantial number of developers would not be willing to do this.

True but Hawuei has the resources to actually make great open source alternatives that developers can take advantage of.

>2) Even if Huawei developed their own app store, IAP framework, etc, as I understand it the order in the US prevents Huawei from entering into any new business with US companies without a license. So, does that mean that FB, Twitter, et all would be prohibited from listing their apps? I believe so.

I guess but that's not their business.

They will have to come up with a alternative to Arm due to licensing. A RISC-V chipset developed by a major company is an interesting prospect.


> I guess but that's not their business.

I mean my point is that it is a total show stopper for their business if they cannot have US apps on their store! Good luck selling a £800 Android phone in the UK with no Instagram! Or a $200 one in India with no WhatsApp.


True - it definitely will be a big hit but the chinese are used to sideloading their apps and in the long run, this will mostly hurt American companies as it will teach its users how to bypass these restrictions and even come up with better alternatives.


It's a huge deal because consumers will have a host of other Android alternatives in competitors where they won't have to deal with "serviceable" open source alternatives.

Additionally, Huawei has has done so well because the OS and consumer experience is generally the same across Android, so consumers choose based on hardware. Now Huawei will have to compete not only in hardware (their main advantage), but also in software.


Both Amazon and Microsoft have essentially failed in the mainstream mobile market. I can see why they don't want to lose money.


“Consumers are attached to the Google products and services that sit on top of the operating system,”

I doubt that. Google is pretty bad at keeping users. (Probably GMail is the strongest anchor point, but as we have seen with the G+ real name gotcha, it's better to be prepared to stop using that. Though of course most GMail users are not prepared for that.) Users will use whatever is the default.

Probably the YouTube app is what users would miss the most. And I don't know whether it works without Play Services. But it certainly works on iOS, so if there were a new platform, Google/Alphabet/YT would make apps for that platform too.


I think Windows Phone has shown that "Google/Alphabet/YT would make apps for that platform too" is far from true.


The issue with Windows Phone was that it was a Microsoft venture, and Google was already paying MS around $5 in license fees for every activated Android device [0]. They weren't in any hurry to make WP more competitive by offering a Youtube app. I had a WP device in 2011, and there were third party apps (MetroTube I think) that were like Newpipe in that you could watching and download YT videos for offline viewing. Not surprisingly, Google changed their APIs and broke the download capability.

That said, Google didn't build third-party YT apps for BB10 or WebOS either.

[0] https://www.computerworld.com/article/2475440/microsoft-gets...


Because platforms were not lucrative for G compared to how big of a barrier to entry the lack of YT meant for those platforms.


Why and how?

You can look at the difference between iOS and WP. Since iOS was a big market Google wanted [and wants] to be in they made the YT app. And since WP was small and late to the game Google had the upper hand, because MS wanted any users more than G wanted the small number of WP users.

https://www.theverge.com/2013/5/7/4308662/youtube-windows-ph...

Therefore if there were a credible new platform that Google wants to be on, they will develop the necessary apps.


and only a few months later, this happened: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/appsblog/2013/aug/15/...

After August 2013, there was never an official YouTube app for Windows Phone.


last I checked youtube could be used with a web browser...


Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: