The web equivalent would be like claiming that Chrome OS isn't open because the source to Gmail isn't available.
Google is stuck behind a rock and a hard place. If they don't try to create incentives for a unified experience, they get bashed for encouraging fragmentation, if they do assert a level of control, they get bashed for not being completely open.
This is exactly the position Microsoft was in during the mid-1990s, even before they went after Netscape. The article is saying that Google is even applying some of the same strong-arm tactics to keep OEMs in line. Fortunately, Google can point to Apple and say they're not a monopoly the way Microsoft was in its market. Plus, Android still looks really open compared to iOS.
MS was different; there weren't much alternatives and the alternatives which were there were squashed by MS. People currently want the apps in the appstore; they want to play clash of clans; they don't care about the Google gmail app. This being the same bubble world as the chromebook thread on HN yesterday; tech people think non tech people actually notice what they are running; they generally don't. If they can play the games their friends are playing and if they can use 'the software' they are used to they are happy. What brand it is is not important.
As an example; when I sit with any of my family members (they are all non tech), they will say 'I will open up Word now' or ' I will open up Excel now' to me when we need to organize something or go over numbers of one of the companies. What pops up definitely never is Word or Excel but rather Libre Office or Google Docs or some free Android/iPad variety. No-one I know actually has or uses MS Office; they use the terms because they don't know 'spreadsheet' and 'word processor' is a mouthful. They don't miss Windows and would even mostly hate it if they had to work with it now (after tablets or chromebooks and even Macs, Windows for non-tech people Windows seems incredibly hard and tech to use).
All these alternatives and Android being deployed by many different companies in different forms would make it hard to call Google a monopolist on that grounds. Samsung could turn into one though.
And if you want to stay on the technical side.. then what about contributors? I've helped port android to a couple devices. I had no idea google had a contract obligation with hardware makers that my work should have to be used in one way or another. I feel dirty.
edit: the Acer example goes exactly against what you mention. They tried to ship a fork, with some of the substitutions you mention. google released the layers.
Acer tried to release it while still wanting to be in the 'Android family' (Open Handset Alliance); they didn't have their own substitutes and didn't want to make a clean break with Google (OHA). If they wanted that and would have provided an appstore, they could've.
At the same time, those people are first to complain about a single button located somewhere different from what remember. Unless all they are doing is the bare minimum that any of interface elements doesn't matter, they would continue caring about what operating system they would be running on. I guess problems are people between complete novices and experts -- they know more than some basics (to recognize what they are running) but not quite up there to mitigate the difference themselves. (And somewhat, this could be said true so far as there haven't been so much of UI functional changes happened up to 7 from the Windows 95 era. People around me haven't really exposed to themselves to Windows 8.x would do to them when they finally hit them...)
History may not repeat, but it rhymes.
As for "strong-arm tactics", what is referred to is explained in this post: http://officialandroid.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-benefits-imp...
As Andy Rubin puts it, Google will not encourage non compatible forks, it is in their interest to have Android developed apps run on all Android devices. Anyone can still have a go but Google won't encourage it.
It's a very flawed and overwritten attack piece, seemingly coming out of nowhere.
The way to compete is either to make standalone apps that dont require services (ie like the old unmaintained ones) or to build your own services, either open or closed.
There is a class called WifiManager which lets you ask the user to allow background scans. It also lets you see the results of the last scan.
It is unfortunate that the Geofencing APIs are not part of the android platform, but I suppose it's possible they use Google services.
Now, that may not be a good business decision, but it certainly counters the argument of the post.
An aside: I appreciate what google is doing to fight Android fragmentation, but also see some of the tactics as anti-competitive.
Saying 'iOS is more closed' is just obvious.
I also recall reading one of the EU's regulators (was it Joaquin Almunia?) say that (paraphrasing) "we start sniffing around when any one party gets a market share north of 60%." Unfortunately, I cannot find that article.
True, and the reason is that a 30% UK-wide or a 50% Europe-wide market share can easily turn out to be a 100% market share in many local markets. Tesco defended itself by saying that 98% of consumers have access to five different super market chains within a drive time radius of 30 minutes. Make that a more realistic 10 minutes and the picture changes dramatically.
Anti trust is such bunk...
Let's imagine a hypothetical world where Company A owns 80% of the smartphone market and the rest is divided between the also-rans.
Now imagine that app developers can't profitably make a 1st rate app without getting the income from company A's app store (But can port the app to other OSes for extra income). If company A starts to use this situation to make it harder to port apps to other companies OSes via strongarm tactics, then company A is abusing its monopoly position of being the only profitable way to make an app.
Today's world is nothing like that, but it's an example of how near-total marketshare is not necessary for anti-trust to come into play. There is a certain point at which you have a large enough market share, that certain other players in the market must deal with you to get the volume needed to compete, particularly in high-volume, high-upfront cost industries (which many types of software qualify as).
"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 probably doesn't have many other choices"
>"and it is such legislation which I consider bunk"
Why? Don't you think that Microsoft should have been reprimanded over their abuse of the OS market to gain control of the browser market?
Or is it because it's being held over $favorite_faceless_corp like the proverbial sword of Damocles?
However, Microsoft also rewrote IE into componentized form, so that components (eg the rendering engine) could be used by other applications, including third-party programs. This was considered a Good Thing at the time (it won the deal with AOL, for example) and made integration (as opposed to tying) a reasonable claim. This is, of course, independent of the way Microsoft handled the argument in court, which was very, very badly.
In sum, whatever Microsoft did was not independent of the actions of the US government, whose interference had extremely bad results for consumers. This includes the crapware explosion that resulted from the DoJ's removal of Microsoft's power over OEMs.
As history showed, there wasn't even an MS monopoly in existence. OSX became viable in the early oughts, Linux was always around, and now people write of the death of the PC.
Regardless, abuse of market dominance (note I don't use the overused 'M' word) increases incentives for competitors to enter the marketplace.
It's also a fact that the DoJ lost the browser case: it was overturned 2-1 on appeal.
>> Play Services has system-level powers, but it's updatable. It's part of the Google apps package, so it's not open source. OEMs are not allowed to modify it, making it completely under Google's control. Play Services basically acts as a shim between the normal apps and the installed Android OS. Right now Play Services handles the Google Maps API, Google Account syncing, remote wipe, push messages, the Play Games back end, and many other duties. If you ever question the power of Google Play Services, try disabling it. Nearly every Google App on your device will break. [Source: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/09/balky-carriers-and-sl...]
The question is - do third-party apps break if you disable Google Play Services? And the answer is that it depends. If the app needs Google's services then it will stop working. However, making Play Services open-source, at least for the functionality provided right now, wouldn't do any good. Because those services rely on Google's server-side infrastructure, so you're still at their mercy.
The only thing that bothers me is the Wifi-based location tracking. Google collects info about nearby Wifi networks and so the phone is able to give a pretty good estimate of latitude/longitude coordinates, even without turning the GPS on. Turning Google Play Services off means that Wifi-based location tracking stops working. And this is a pain, given that many apps these days (Facebook, Twitter) want to get your current city and so Facebook for example is accessing my GPS every time I open the app, with no way to turn this functionality off and it's consuming my battery and the GPS status notifier is annoying. In case you're wondering I had to turn Wifi-based location tracking because of a bug in the latest Android 4.3, as it is preventing my Nexus 4 to go to sleep, thus draining my battery.
Them wanting, I can understand. But why should you give them that?
1) Newer custom ROMs can deny permissions on a per-app basis. I understand this isn't for everyone, but I enjoy having this option very much on my own device. (I also agree with you that it should be baked into the vanilla Android, but I can understand why they wouldn't want to confuse users with that option.)
2) Some apps will give you a choice in their own settings (if you trust that).
3) You always have the option of just not installing an app if you don't like the permissions. There's a fair bit of apps I refuse to install/update because their permissions asking for way more than I think their feature set requires.
They appear to be working on that: http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/07/25/app-ops-android-4-3s...
I used it to block Facebook from accessing GPS. Worked well.
I noticed recently that Google gives you the option of disabling "Google Location Services" which allows apps to read location when they're not running. However, disabling this causes Google Maps to refuse to read your location when it is running.
...And that's about when I started looking seriously at OpenStreetMaps. Sadly haven't found a good replacement yet.
May I ask which ROMs you are referring to?
On AOKP, you have to enable it by going into System Settings -> Permissions, which will then let you manage your apps.
Cyanogen uses a similar system, you'll need to navigate to CyanogenMod Settings, then Permissions, and finally Enable Management. After that, permissions can be enabled or disabled through the Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications menu.
Those instructions were pulled from a Google search, as I don't run Cyanogen myself currently. They may be old/incorrect/etc. Good luck.
It was rumored that this was under pressure from Google, etc., but I'm not sure if that was ever confirmed.
I don't think Google's development of their own services is issue here. The issue, in my understanding, is that Google ties its services to Android under "Android compatibility" label.
Skyhook is a great example (the article mentions it) - mapping is important for Google, and Google literally pushed the company out of business by strong-arming manufacturers to stop using Skyhook services.
Can, say, Samsung make a deal with Yahoo to drop gmail, include only Yahoo mail on their phones and still pass "compatibility" test in Google, and have access to Google Play store and the rest of the services? Can you imagine HTC phone with Nokia maps? (speaking of maps and Nokia, anyone is quick to point that Nokia made a huge mistake not betting on Android as Symbian replacement. And couple of months ago we saw that mapping is so important to Nokia that they're ready to let negotiations with Microsoft fail just to keep mapping in their hands. Does anyone thinks that Nokia would be permitted to make Android phones with Nokia maps?)
The fact that Google services are (mostly) better than competition isn't relevant here - back in the day Internet Explorer was way better than Netscape Navigator, but that fact didn't made MS actions any better.
I can imagine too that selective replacement of chunks of the 'Google Experience' might make consumers get a negative impression of the Google brand if the replacement has issues. Like if you replace the location with Skyhook or Nokia, and the new Maps app is just called "Maps", and if there are serious issues, consumers might say "Man, this Google Maps on Android sucks!" without realizing it's not Google Maps, because Android is strongly brand associated with Google.
There's also a logical rational for Amazon-style forking, in the sense that if you're going for a complete reskinning, the end result will likely be a lot better if it is completely horizontally and vertically integrated by a single vendor rather than cobbled together -- 'bloatware' experience.
This is what Skyhook claimed, but the reality was much different. Skyhook were intentionally or unintentionally polluting the Google AP database. They refused to change and so failed the compatability test.
Look into this more.
"Not having to package everything into a major OS update means Google can get features out to more users much faster and more frequently than before. ... This should all lead to a more unified, less fragmented, healthier Android ecosystem."
But I do not agree with people that claim Android is not open. Building an operating system is a big challenge and stock Android is enough for anyone to fork and do whatever they want. I actually play around with an old Galaxy S on top of which I installed Cyanogenmod without any of Google's Apps. The only problem is that developers only publish their apps on Google Play, which is a shame, given that Android does allow you to install apps from third party sources and you could have a good experience just with stock Android. I ended up installing Amazon's Appstore on it, which is not as good as Google Play, but at least they've got special offers :-)
GMail uses a proprietary protocol that is decidedly not imap. It has features like colorized labels and inbox prioritizing that just isn't present in imap. Furthermore it has completely different performance characteristics (e.g it is much faster) than what imap email can provide. No one seem to have any details on exactly what the protocol is or how it works. They definitely seem to not want any third party clients accessing gmail though. Otherwise they would have published a protocol specification a long time ago.
A thousand times, this.
Using a traditional IMAP client such as offlineimap makes this painfully obvious. Gmail synchronizes labels as "folders", not "tags", for some unknown reason, which means that mail in the inbox ends up getting duplicated on disk under "All Mail", and then again for every single label attached to that label.
Archiving hijacks the way that deleting works, and while clients can adjust to this, it breaks the way IMAP is supposed to work. If clients have to add special cases to interact with your service, that means you're going off-protocol!
Even the login is different. On IMAP, your username should be "foo", not "email@example.com".
I went through the same process of installing Cyanogenmod without Google Apps and it made me wonder why developers of free apps don't distribute them outside Play e.g. on their sites. I understand paid apps and/or apps that have in app purchase but there are a lot of just free apps that just can't be downloaded. Any theories?
There's always https://f-droid.org - it has somewhat vetted free-as-in-freedom apps that must compile from source.
I think developers don't put APKs anywhere else because they think they won't have an audience for those anyway. But it's a pity anyway. For example Humble Bundle packs with Android games were quite successful and the distribution method was through download links.
However, I would like to point out that the Humble Bundle packs, while available via download links, also is available for download using a Humble Bundle app that acts like a package manager. I don't know how much that would change things, success-wise, but I thought it was worth noting.
That would be like saying that the default camera app does not come with filters, shaders and other features that you like. What Google does is, gives a good enough app for generic use and leaves options open for developers to make better things and put them on the Play Store.
If Google starts incorporating all such features, it'll get much more difficult for developers to earn through the store.
If that's true then Google has given itself a good monopoly for email on its own OS, much like Microsoft did for Internet Explorer.
Google consolidating most APIs into Play Services would ensure it's constantly active and never purged from memory, but the same isn't true of Gmail or other Google Apps. They can and are purged from memory as other apps demand more memory. That being said, I've encountered very few situations where any app gets purged from memory. About the only time this happens is if I play a game like Galaxy On Fire or decide to open 100 tabs in Chrome.
A lot of common APIs (Location API, Maps API, Play Games API, Push Notifications API, etc) have been consolidated under the Google Play Services umbrella process. Since these common APIs are used by lots of applications, this would ensure the Play Services process never gets booted from memory.
It also has the added benefit that applications using push notifications like Gmail don't need to maintain a background service because they can rely on Google Play Services to activate them as needed. Location based apps like Yelp can determine your location more quickly because Google Play Services is constantly monitoring it. All while reducing the over all memory foot print of applications because they're all deferring to Google Play Services.
Google can also change their APIs for services, upgrade to new protocols like SPDY, and developers don't need to update their applications because Google just needs to maintain the interface to Google Play Services. It's pretty clever.
This is what Play Services are moving towards.
Learn English, and then we'll talk.
But I'm fairly sure I'm replying to a throwaway account, so it's not like you were seriously interested.
It's all according to the previously openly aired plan. Google keeps all of the existing code open source. Anyone who wants to build a fork can do so. Now if they want a hardware platform to run on, go find one outside the Open Handset Alliance ecosystem. It's fair game -- if a hardware partner thinks that one of Google's competitors can provide a better Android fork, they are free to leave the Alliance and go partner with that competitor. They will still get an enormous amount of code for free in AOSP. They just won't get all of the services that Google is building specifically for its own version of Android. How is any of this maintaining an "iron grip" in any way? Just contrast this with Apple where it is the sole owner of everything to do with the OS and app marketplace.
A good example of this is Amazon. They are doing this successfully.
Imagine you want to sell a Linux laptop with your own Linux distribution. You're just a small shop in California, and you're shopping around to find a manufacturer for your laptops. And you find that anyone connected to Microsoft (Foxconn, Asus, Acer, Gigabyte, etc) can't do any job with you. Would you say "that's fair, Microsoft isn't evil by forcing hardware manufacturers to work exclusively with them" in such situation?
A good analogy would be Microsoft preventing you from selling your fork of Windows on those manufacturers, which happens to be exactly what every big OS maker does, by simply not distributing it under a Free license.
Your argument itself is also somewhat of a mischaracterization, because at least Google could have wrestled redistribution rights for the binary drivers, thus making AOSP actually usable on the nexus, and they didn't even bother with that.
Vendors are a convenient whipping boy when don't care about openness but wanna look like you do.
Subject to the terms of this Agreement, Licensor hereby grants to
You, free of charge, a non-exclusive, non-sublicensable,
non-transferable, limited copyright license, during the term of
this Agreement, to download, install and use the Software
internally in machine-readable (i.e., object code) form and the
Documentation for non-commercial use on an Authorized Android
Enabled Device and non-commercial redistribution for academic
purposes only of a reasonable number of copies of the Authorized
Android Enabled Device Software (the "Limited Purpose"). You may
grant your end users the right to use the Software for
non-commercial purposes on an Authorized Android Enabled Device.
The license to the Software granted to You hereunder is solely for
the Limited Purpose set forth in this section, and the Software
Github don't constantly go on about how 'open' Github is, though.
Not really. You will have your mainline Abdroid implementation shutdown if you do this. Google is clearly doing this to make forking a very risky proposition for device manufacturers. It's the antithesis to open.
That is why they are being criticized. It's not about who is more open. It's that Google misled everyone about their intentions.
Unfortunately, this highlights some weaknesses in the GPLv2, which is supposed to guarantee freedom.
This is blatantly false. Google bought Android in 2005, two years before the iPhone was announced.
Not only, as has already been pointed out, did the UI change, but if you look at the Android architecture it's clearly evolved along an very different path to iOS.
I remember when the first Android SDK came out the programming manual made it very clear to developers that we weren't to expect devices to always have discrete GPUs or touch-screens.
All those videos of Android demo or prototype units clearly showed Android was a Blackberry clone (just look at that tiny touchpad for navigating around Android OS) and changed its design direction after iPhone made its appearance.
If you want to show off what Android can do, you put it on all kinds of devices that people are using at the moment. If everyone has a Blackberry, you want to show that you can make a software for Blackberrys based on Android. If everyone is hyped on digital cameras, you show a software and ui for such a camera.
Android used to have 3 prototypes in its early stages: a blackberry type, a tablet-type device, and the device that later became the Tmobile G1, the first android phone. The platform never changed course, and it clearly never was a Blackberry clone.
I'm not so sure about that. Blackberry didn't do that, and neither did Apple...
The iPhone certainly was in development some time prior to its announcement.
Public iPhone announcement was January 9th 2007: http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2007/01/09Apple-Reinvents-th...
Even with a conspiracy angle, a three month head start isn't much.
At the time, Windows Mobile was the epitome of a modern mobile OS. It had a real(ish) browser and a VM-based app runtime for a modern (C#) language (albeit optional and not nearly as tightly integrated with OS middleware as in Android). Google saw that an ecosystem such as Windows Live is much more critical to a mobile device than it is to a desktop PC. The nature of Android more closely reflects the threat from Microsoft than from iPhone.
If Google didn't do any of this, and was totally altruistic, Samsung and others would already have completely screwed things up.
While it's certainly very much to Google's benefit, it also benefits most users because overall, Google has done a far better job than any OEM regarding user experience.
For instance, the Acer/Aliyun situation is more complicated than presented. The Aliyun app store was distributing pirated apps (including pirated Google apps): http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/09/15/aliyun-app-store-con...
It seems obvious that Acer would have wound up in hot water with Google over this somehow, though it is odd that Google decided to focus their complaint on compatibility (rather than on Aliyun's piracy).
On the other side of the coin, many Android OEMs have distributed (and still distribute, so far as I know) devices without Google apps for the Chinese market (including Samsung, ASUS, Huawei, and even Motorola ). So far as I can remember, these were always essentially the same as non-Chinese devices except that they came with a different ROM that didn't include Google Apps. Nevertheless, that means that there's some scope for making non-Google Android devices, we just don't know how far it goes. Maybe if the HTC/Amazon rumors turn out to be true, we'll find out more.
 Though I think Motorola's efforts were shut-down post-merger because of Google's China policies.
Is that really where the line is? My understanding is that it is almost the opposite: an OEM cannot manufacture any devices that break compatibility with AOSP, not support compatibility with a 3rd party fork. And the constraint is a condition of membership of AOSP rather than something imposed directly by Google. They can make things as compatible with as many non-Google forks as they want. They can break all compatibility wherever they want if they give up AOSP membership.
Open source doesn't require you to cooperate with anyone, it doesn't require you to give away access to APIs, it doesn't require you to do anything beyond whatever is explicitly stated in the license.
Google, Canonical, Oracle, IBM, Red Hat, SUSE, etc... aren't required to be good team players or corporate citizens. They're just required to abide by the terms of the licenses on code they use...
It eventually comes down to perception of value. Part of the original attraction of Android was its openness, if Google is now closing off substantial functionality, to head off competition, then it's not unfair for people to re-evaluate their enthusiasm for the product.
Very well put! Its not a legal perception that theres something wrong about what they are doing(and nobody are saying that they cannot do it in the legal aspect).. its a betrayal of some part that make people defend android for what it is, a open source project.. its the ideal behind the project that is being broken
If its not like that anymore, the same people that support it for its openess should be aware of it.. and see that things are actually, gradually and silently changing..
As an open-source project, Android was only ever really open in the way that, say, Oracle BDB is open; there are periodic code dumps, but it's very much not operated as an open-source project.
I doubt however that RMS would be happy with open/free code being replaced by closed one as exemplified in the article. That has of course nothing to do with permissive and copyleft, and all to do with lock-in, proprietary practices, and project management.
Personally, I don't see the problem with what Google is doing, I would prefer 100% open software myself, but Google would never open-source their services' code, so the fact the apps are closed-source doesn't really make a difference.
Android has come a very long way in the last few years in terms of usability and design. A large part of this has been due to an increasingly uniform design language and feel. That, and the new distribution model for what are basically Android updates (Google Play Services) has made Android feel more polished and actually allowed it to stand on its own against iOS. It also means that developers like me don't have to spend nearly as much time worrying about fragmentation in the traditional sense. Each day the percentage of people using sub-ICS phones falls, and we all get one step closer to the day we can support ICS+ only.
However, companies like Amazon would force me to rewrite the maps integration, the sign-in portion, the wallet, etc... Amazon did a great job of replicating Google Maps API V1 but they have yet to mirror V2 and don't mirror the other components I mentioned.
Aside from fragmentation and developer sanity, the article mentions another key point here:
"[M]any of Google's solutions offer best-in-class usability, functionality, and ease-of-implementation."
Exactly! Google APIs are not perfect, and there's bugs (like when Google Maps broke map markers on high resolution phones like the HTC One). But generally speaking, I'm really happy with the quality of the APIs and services. In an ideal world, Amazon and Google would work together to provide great and uniform single-sign-in APIs, great maps, etc... As it currently stands though, I don't believe either party is interested in doing so. Prisoner's dilemma?
> 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 probably doesn't have many other choices.
That is fairly incredible, I'm surprised it is not an anti-trust/competition issue.
Android is open source; their services and corresponding apps aren't, and that's what they use as leverage. Not allowing them the same rights over those as other companies have over their proprietary software is essentially punishing them for having released something as open source.
And yes, Android is open source, and the Kindle Fire proves it. The fact that some people expect Google Play et all to be bundled is not Google's fault.
Their situation is also not comparable to iOS, WP, etc, because of their position of market dominance, just the same as the situation with Windows and Mac OS back in the day.
But Windows was, and while Microsoft was criticized for a lot of anticompetitive plays, not allowing people to create forks of Windows was never one of them. Not to mention that Google does allow you to create forks of Android, they just don't give you access to their services on top of that.
This statement is utterly false. In-house does not mean free.
If you work at Yahoo, this is something you should run up the chain. A relationship with OEMs would solve their problems, and allow you to get a foothold in mobile that you haven't been able to before.
I think it's also pretty standard to open-source the core and keep the baubles proprietary. GitHub, for example, made their git interaction library open-source but their git hosting service itself is closed, as far as I know.
Google have a level of control beyond that: they undermine anyone trying to fork Android by not letting them use Google's apps and services (even as they allow such use on competing systems like iOS).
If you want to compete with Google, using Android poses a choice: If you make Google-branded Android devices that use Google's proprietary apps, you will have to give that up in order to use Android with other ecosystems.
Thirdly, if you want to use the Google ecosystem in a product, you have to use all of it. You can't substitute someone else's location services, for an example that was litigated.
Google could develop Android in the open and retain the same level of control over OEMs, and I think they should.
Google appears to be inconsistent in enforcing restrictions on OEMs. OPhone OEMs also make Android handsets, despite the fact that OPhone is an Android derived product. Maybe that arrangement pre-dates Google's current policies.
This is false. Google wins when more people use the Internet. Android is fulfilling its initial goal incredibly well: offer a free and open-source mobile OS to encourage mobile device proliferation.
Android is doing exactly what it was designed to do.
> Android is doing exactly what it was designed to do.
That's effectively what it says in the article: "It's easy to give something away when you're in last place with zero marketshare, precisely where Android started. When you're in first place though, it's a little harder to be so open and welcoming. Android has gone from being the thing that protects Google to being something worth protecting in its own right."
i.e. Android is doing what it was designed for - protecting Google's presence on the mobile web - but with such a dominant market position Google found that it ceased to be solely a means of protection, and actually an asset in its own right. It's in that extension of the original aim where the interests of Android as an open source project and Google as a for-profit company do not match up.
Android is not about North America. Android is about India, Africa, and China.
Interestingly, in China, and this is personal experience not a market survey, the more one moves away from big brand manufacturers of Android telephones, the more pure / bare-bones / no manufacturer or telecom added applications the Android install is (again, China experience only).
I am sitting in mainland China with an Android phone in my pocket. 518 Yuan can easily buy a bright 5 inch screen, 4 days battery life (my average usage) with WiFi on most of the time, only one manufacturer installed app (Baidu input; being in China, this useful), 1.2GHz processor, 1GB RAM, 2 SIM card slots, SD Card slot (free card included, only 2GB, but free is free), 5MP camera (2MP reverse), user serviceable battery.
When the iPhone debuted, no doubt Google sensed the impact, and Apple's ability to create an effective closed ecosystem had already been proven with iTunes. I believe that Google wanted to undermine the market long enough to understand it. True enough, "android winning" was not the same as "Google winning," but it did mean everyone else "losing." I believe that for Google, Android started as a strategy in search of a goal. It was a smokescreen to prevent Apple from taking a dominant position by default. As the data poured in, they began to understand how to leverage it, and the Nexus line became an expression of such understanding, working to establish more control, and hopefully emerge from the smokescreen they had created.
Impossible. Google bought Android years before Apple sold a single phone.
Is this the origin of the Twitter fail-whale?
I'd fully support their modules that connect to the cloud servers being open source / GPL / etc, but to expect them to open them up to unauthenticated requests is untenable and leaves them way open to abuse / lack of rate limiting / making the service a bad time for all involved.
It also consists of witholding access to those APIs if a company uses a competitor service:
> Another point of control is that the Google apps are all licensed as a single bundle. So if you want Gmail and Maps, you also need to take Google Play Services, Google+, and whatever else Google feels like adding to the package. A company called Skyhook found this out the hard way when it tried to develop a competing location service for Android. Switching to Skyhook's service meant Google would not be able to collect location data from users. This was bad for Google, so Skyhook was declared "incompatible." OEMs that wanted the Google Apps were not allowed to use them. Skyhook sued, and the lawsuit is still pending.
To be successful on mobile you also need a fairly extensive layer of services. Some of those (web, mail and so on) are easy to bolt together but others such as maps and app stores are far harder and are about data and commercial deals as much as they are about software. While it would be wrong to say that these services can't be opened up, in many cases doing so isn't as straight forward as sharing source code.
It doesn't feel as if Google has changed so much as what it means be a mobile OS has.
It's understandable why Google would lock people out of seeing the back end of their closed apps. But you have to look at what the long-term implications of them slowly removing support for ASOP apps are. As Google continually pushes out fantastic products that tie in so well to the mobile experience, why would anyone/developer want to have/develop [for] anything else. As this power grows, Google can strong-arm phone manufactures to develop hardware/features/etc to work with what they are developing. They have to sign contractual agreements to get the top version of Android and are then locked in to keep up the good terms. Google is outsourcing the hardware manufacturing to other companies and ensuring that if a user wants a good phone, they will be using their services.
Many people here are claiming any company can leave Google's garden like Amazon did. While some companies may be able to do that, I'm struggling to think of a one with the technological background, money to invest, and callousness for risk who are willing to try. Amazon has a huge assortment of media that it can toss at its users who use their hardware. Other companies don't have a differentiating factor or the software development to be able to make a truly competitive product to drive people away from Google supported Android. Just look at how much Microsoft, a software giant, is struggling to gain any shred of market share.
No executive in any reasonable company is going to propose to invest billions in order to squeeze into the highly competitive mobile OS market. It’s a huge risk that only a startup could swallow, and yet few startups could even raise the money required to topple the Google supported android market.
What the future is starting to look like is the one Google was initially afraid of, that users were” faced a Draconian future, a future where…one company, one device, one carrier would be [the] only choice.” As Google gains more power, the open source part that Android users love is going to slowly disappear. This may or may not happen, there are many variables that could prevent it, but it is a future that would bring Google the highest return and that is the goal of all market traded companies.
As a user I'm happy that Google is making sure that I can hop device manufactures without loosing my apps or functionality, if everybody would roll out there own app store and removed Google's you would be locked in with the OEM. Now you can safely change to a different phone, also they don't mind you downloading the Google apps when using an alternative ROM.
Android is open source but does that mean that you are not aloud to make money of it by providing closed source apps and service, many open source companies do that. The work that went in to Android if freely available for competitors. Lots of kernel enchantments went back in to Linux and now you have Ubuntu touch and Firefox OS both based on the Android kernel which in turn is based on Linux, how cool is that.
It's already kind of like windows, no? It runs on hundreds if different devices. It's often bloated by OEM software that people hate. It's prone to security wholes. It's slow and clunky unless you run it on the latest hardware. It bends over backwards for compatibility sake. It's more and more closed sourced...
Android is Mobile windows of the 90s. I hope Ubuntu Mobile will be successful.
What does "prone to security issues" mean? And compared to what? When we compare iOS and Android, iOS had 304 vulnerabilities in 2007-2013 (294 in 2009-2013), while Android had 29 in 2009-2013. That's order of magnitude difference, yet Android is blamed to be prone to security holes.
Also what does "clunky unless you run it on the latest hardware"? All systems are slow, when you run new system on old hardware. You cannot bend physics there. Ever used iOS4 on iPhone 3G? iOS7 on iPhone4? Or why there is no WP8 update for WP7 phones? These are exactly the same reasons.
Even the APIs in Play Services, as described in the article, are exactly marked as "google, not android". You project has to explicitly include Google APIs, it is not enough to target Android. Every Android developer knows that.
 http://www.cvedetails.com/product/15556/ and http://www.cvedetails.com/product/19997/
It is widely known that iOS is far more secure in the practical sense for the average user. Report: http://www.f-secure.com/static/doc/labs_global/Research/Mobi...
That F-Secure report describes legitimate applications that could be potentialy used as a malware (e.g. just like Wireshark on desktops) or trojans. What happens with trojans is described in the link above.
Also note, that it is in F-Secure's interest to cause scare, it is good for their business. They are not interested in people rationaly thinking about presented issues.
This seems like a terrible situation for users. Can someone with a Samsung smartphone confirm this?
If this is the case, how are the apps organized when you first buy the phone - are they all in one big apps list?
In fact, I've had AOSP apps disappear from my Cyanogen Mod ROM when I installed gapps, although I don't know if that was due to being overwritten or just part of the install script.
Here's a different perspective:
It seems that the main problem is the gatekeepers who manufacture phones.
"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."
Google Apps and APIs are fine and good, but I don't think any company should dictate to an OEM what products they can make for other companies.
This is the future of smartphones. You pick a phone and by doing so, you pick the walled garden you're going to most comfortable playing in, pure and simple.
Open source has proven to be a long term survivor, but not a winner.
Ask IBM or Oracle if Linux is losing...
Open doesn't mean 'hobbyist', it merely refers to the freedoms enabled by the code's license...
Yet both use and push Linux, IBM uses SUSE Enterprise, and Oracle forked Red Hat's OS...
I really doubt either cared about whatever marginal cost they may or may not save. Linux's openness is kind of like natural selection - good features live on, bad ones die.
Open source does make better software (everything else being equal of course).