Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 21st Oct 2013 22:15 UTC, submitted by ddc_
Google

Ars Technica has a great article about what, exactly, Google is doing to retain (or retake) control over Android. Many things were already known, and have, in fact, been discussed here before. For instance, the Open Handset Alliance prohibits its members from forking Android or using other companies' forks. This had been known for a long time, and has always been an important aspect of the OHA - its goal is to prevent the fragmentation of Android, after all. Another thing we've always known is that the Google Applications - like YouTube and such - have always been closed source, and that a license is required to use them (they are freely available though, and Android is completely usable about them.

There are two bigger problems, however. First, the more Google moves parts of Android to Google Play (such as the keyboard or calendar), the less open source Android becomes.

For some of these apps, there might still be an AOSP equivalent, but as soon as the proprietary version was launched, all work on the AOSP version was stopped. Less open source code means more work for Google's competitors. While you can't kill an open source app, you can turn it into abandonware by moving all continuing development to a closed source model. Just about any time Google rebrands an app or releases a new piece of Android onto the Play Store, it's a sign that the source has been closed and the AOSP version is dead.

There's definitely an opportunity here for groups like CyanogenMod - and in fact, that's exactly what's happening. For instance, CM has created the camera application Focal, which is available in the Play Store. In other words, most of the Google Applications can be recreated and improved upon easily, after which they can be placed in the Play Store. An exception, of course, is the Play Store application itself, but even that one has alternatives, such as the Amazon App Store.

A bigger problem, however, are the Google Play Services. This is an Android application - closed source - that provides developers with access to a whole bunch of Google's APIs. It's becoming more and more mandatory.

Taking the Android app ecosystem from Google seems easy: just get your own app store up and running, convince developers to upload their apps to it, and you're on your way. But the Google APIs that ship with Play Services are out to stop this by convincing developers to weave dependence on Google into their apps. Google's strategy with Google Play Services is to turn the "Android App Ecosystem" into the "Google Play Ecosystem" by making a developer's life as easy as possible on a Google-approved device - and as difficult as possible on a non-Google-approved device.

In other words, there's a lot going on at Google to prevent more forks, such as Kindle Fire, from happening. I had no issues with Google's own applications being closed source (you can easily replace them), but the Play Services are a much bigger issue. As more and more applications adopt Play Services, the harder it'll become to run Android 'Google free' - and that's not exactly an ideal situation.

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v Huh?
by bowkota on Mon 21st Oct 2013 23:14 UTC
RE: Huh?
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 21st Oct 2013 23:20 UTC in reply to "Huh?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

It is open. Some optional parts of it are not, however. This is not rocket science.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Huh?
by Nelson on Mon 21st Oct 2013 23:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Huh?"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Its not open in practice as the article so masterfully shows. Any OEM movement towards leaving Google's playground is a huge risk.

Google is very clever by making sure their corporate goals don't run too contrary to people's everyday expectations, but that only serves to make them a much more nefarious entity.

While everyone was singing kumbaya at the Android bonfire, Google built a mobile empire to push its services on the masses. Open source is a means to an end and not an end in and of itself for Google.

Reply Score: 7

RE[2]: Huh?
by bowkota on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 07:39 UTC in reply to "RE: Huh?"
bowkota Member since:
2011-10-12

It is open. Some optional parts of it are not, however. This is not rocket science.

Your obsession of clinching to an idea that just isn't there is hilarious.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Huh?
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 08:46 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Huh?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

What idea?

I can check out the Android code, change it, build it, and run it. How is that not open?

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Huh?
by bowkota on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 10:20 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Huh?"
bowkota Member since:
2011-10-12

What idea?

I can check out the Android code, change it, build it, and run it. How is that not open?


Wrong you can chunk out, build and change only part of the Android code. As a whole, you're being locked out of many important Apps and more importantly various APIs. Five years down the road, open source Android will be an outdated useless piece of code; even the keyboard is outdated right now...

Google, reeled in everyone by touting the free and open source card and now bit by bit, they're taking over, converging more towards iOS.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Huh?
by M.Onty on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 10:34 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Huh?"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23


Wrong you can chunk out, build and change only part of the Android code. As a whole, you're being locked out of many important Apps and more importantly various APIs. Five years down the road, open source Android will be an outdated useless piece of code; even the keyboard is outdated right now...


That's basically what he wrote above in the article; you know, the one you're commenting on. Something can be be open in theory but decreasingly so in spirit. How have you managed to manufacture a disagreement from that flimsy distinction?

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Huh?
by Tony Swash on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 11:45 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Huh?"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

What idea?

I can check out the Android code, change it, build it, and run it. How is that not open?


In the real world you can do almost nothing with the Android code of any substance or impact without being essentially excluded from Google services, Google controlled APIs and the Open Handset Alliance. You can tinker, as long as nothing you do is of any consequence for Google but if it touches Google's interests you are dead in the water.

The only entity with big enough resources to fork Android and break Google's grip is probably Samsung and even for a company as rich and powerful as Samsung that would be a high risk strategy.

The Android strategy has never been about being 'open' since it's inception (although Rubin for a while became a champion of Android itself rather than of Google's interests and was sacked as a result). It's a business strategy for Google, an advertising company, that needs to drive ever greater numerical use of it's services, and thus sell more ads, as the world transitions to the mobile web and to a lower price per click for ads. Google needs volume now. Everything Google is doing, especially Google+, is driven by the need to increase the reach of it's user data acquisition and ad serving capacity. Openness was always only a wrapping for Android, a way to increase it's spread and penetration and a way to market it to the Technorati and calm the fears of the OEMs.

There is nothing wrong with any of that, it's a legitimate business strategy, if a bit duplicitous. What's far more shocking is how many people actually bought the 'Android is open' bullshit and even became evangelical champions of it.

If you came across a hedge fund handing out great quality free T-shirts at a convention you wouldn't start to think they were a company dedicated to making great free T-shirts, you would think it was a way to promote their real business of fund management.

Even if you really liked their great free T-shirts.

It's the same with Google.

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: Huh?
by ddc_ on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 12:45 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Huh?"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Well, Android is indeed open: you can audit it and even change something for your own use. Though I never really tried to collect any real numbers I believe that this goes quite in line with the general attitude towards Android in the tech-savvy part of the net.

Arguably it isn't much less open then Linux: you can easily fork both, but you have to back it up with awful lot of resources in order to get your fork "above radar", not to mention usage share above statistical error. So practical difference between openness of GPLed Linux and AOSP is not all that dramatic.

Reply Score: 5

RE[5]: Huh?
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 13:32 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Huh?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

In the real world you can do almost nothing with the Android code of any substance or impact without being essentially excluded from Google services, Google controlled APIs and the Open Handset Alliance.


So? The same applies to the Linux kernel. You can do with it whatever you want, but you need explicit approval from Linus & Co. before your changes make it to mainline so you can make use of the hosting/peer review infrastructure behind Linux. Without said explicit approval, you'll have to maintain and host your own kernel, and take care of your own peer review. Android is no different.

Are you saying Linux is not open source?

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Huh?
by Tony Swash on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 16:35 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Huh?"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

Are you saying Linux is not open source?


No. What I am saying is that Google has very cleverly hacked the whole concept of Open Source to suit their long term corporate aims. Like a clever lawyer exploiting a loop hole in the law it is perfectly possible to still argue that Android is open source but the point is that Android and the infrastructure it is wrapped in is exquisitely designed to achieve one outcome: the absolute domination of Google services and it's commercial interests. That's not unethical or illegal or even bad, it's just a business strategy but I do think that it must undermine the stated ethics and principals and hopes of supporters of open source and the wider open source community. Was the idea behind open source that one private profit making company should have a strangle hold on the planet's largest and most important open source project in order to foster it's own commercial profit making interests? You tell me.

It's not a question of making money or profit from open source being wrong, it's a question of whether the way Google runs Android can be still called open source in anything other than a technical sense.

Imagine if Linux was still technically open source but the whole shape and structure of Linux had been designed so that one very large and rich corporation actually controlled it completely in a practical sense. If that one large company could ultimately dictate who could do what with Linux, a company could put such obstacles in the path of anybody who did anything that impinged on their business interests that such endeavours were blocked. Would that really measure up to your hopes for open source. Would it represent what open source was intended to be about? You tell me.

Google have been so clever about how they have designed Android and it's support structures, so methodical and relentless about how they have pushed it's evolution in just one direction, that hasn't Android in reality moved so far beyond what the original concept of open source was all about that it has undermined the original meaning of open source. Isn't it about time that the concept of open source was forked? On the one hand classical open source and on the other a new concept to cover the sort of walled garden curated open source that Google is running.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Huh?
by ddc_ on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 17:10 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Huh?"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Was the idea behind open source that one private profit making company should have a strangle hold on the planet's largest and most important open source project in order to foster it's own commercial profit making interests? You tell me.

Are you sure you are speaking about open source, not about community-based approach to development? Quite a few open source projects are under control of one private for-profit company, and everybody is quite happy about it.

Imagine if Linux was still technically open source but the whole shape and structure of Linux had been designed so that one very large and rich corporation actually controlled it completely in a practical sense.

Nothing to imagine - vast amount of commits to Linux are from companies, and there are quite a lot source files with only one for-profit committer ever.

If that one large company could ultimately dictate who could do what with Linux, a company could put such obstacles in the path of anybody who did anything that impinged on their business interests that such endeavours were blocked.

Now there's Linus in that position. What difference does it make?

Would it represent what open source was intended to be about?

Intended by whom? Given that term "free software" predates term "open source", and the difference is moot, one would argue that the term "open source" was coined exactly to make the companies see the value of the business model we can currently see behind Android. Prooflink: http://www.thebaffler.com/past/the_meme_hustler

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: Huh?
by BallmerKnowsBest on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 20:49 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Huh?"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

The Android strategy has never been about being 'open' since it's inception (although Rubin for a while became a champion of Android itself rather than of Google's interests and was sacked as a result).


-1 (Inaccurate).

I'm going to go ahead and call bullshit on that one.

What's far more shocking is how many people actually bought the 'Android is open' bullshit and even became evangelical champions of it.


And yet, I've never seen you actually point to even a single example in the 2-3 years you've been repeating that tired old saw - other than your disingenuous attempts to paint ANYONE defending any aspect of Android with that brush. At this point, it's painfully obvious that these supposed legions of starry-eyed, naive Google fanboys don't exist anywhere except in your imagination.

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: Huh?
by Tony Swash on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 20:57 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Huh?"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

"The Android strategy has never been about being 'open' since it's inception (although Rubin for a while became a champion of Android itself rather than of Google's interests and was sacked as a result).


-1 (Inaccurate).

I'm going to go ahead and call bullshit on that one.
"

Plus it was Rubin that pushed for the financially disastrous and farcical Motorola purchase, cost 13$ and counting. Rubin was a champion of Android, what Page wanted was a champion of Google.

BTW why do think Rubin was dumped?

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Huh?
by BallmerKnowsBest on Wed 23rd Oct 2013 15:09 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Huh?"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

"[q]The Android strategy has never been about being 'open' since it's inception (although Rubin for a while became a champion of Android itself rather than of Google's interests and was sacked as a result).


-1 (Inaccurate).

I'm going to go ahead and call bullshit on that one.
"

Plus it was Rubin that pushed for the financially disastrous and farcical Motorola purchase, cost 13$ and counting. Rubin was a champion of Android, what Page wanted was a champion of Google. [/q]

Given that you still haven't substantiated your original claims, I'm going to go ahead and assume that's your preferred explanation not because there's any actual reason to believe it - but rather because it's the explanation that most conveniently maps onto the self-serving mythology that you've constructed about Google.

BTW why do think Rubin was dumped?


So being moved to another division within the same company, probably with a pay raise to boot, is now synonymous with "dumped" and "sacked"? Funny, I must have missed that update to the OED.

As for what I think, that's neither here nor there - I don't need to propose an alternate explanation in order to point out that your explanation is nothing but speculation and supposition presented as fact. But I'd be more inclined to put stock in accounts of Rubin's departure that cite actual, ya know, sources to back up their claims:

http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/19/4120208/why-andy-rubin-android-ca...

Reply Score: 5

RE[5]: Huh?
by ilovebeer on Wed 23rd Oct 2013 05:44 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Huh?"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

As many times as you've explained this, you'd think people would understand it by now. I guess the fact that Google is a for-profit business and always acts in its own interests is just hard to grasp for some.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Huh?
by BallmerKnowsBest on Wed 23rd Oct 2013 15:33 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Huh?"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

As many times as you've explained this, you'd think people would understand it by now. I guess the fact that Google is a for-profit business and always acts in its own interests is just hard to grasp for some.


BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah you two are a regular Holmes and Watson all right!

Hate to break it to you, son, but everyone else already figured out that years ago.

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Huh?
by ilovebeer on Wed 23rd Oct 2013 16:34 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Huh?"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

As many times as you've explained this, you'd think people would understand it by now. I guess the fact that Google is a for-profit business and always acts in its own interests is just hard to grasp for some.

BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah you two are a regular Holmes and Watson all right!

Hate to break it to you, son, but everyone else already figured out that years ago.

If that were remotely true then Tony Swash wouldn't have to constantly explain what Google is and how it works on here, ...son.

Btw, if you're going to attempt to troll, at least try so it's not a complete waste of time.

Edited 2013-10-23 16:35 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Huh?
by lucas_maximus on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 18:23 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Huh?"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Yeah it is "technically open" ... but (depending on a companies resources) porting over changes from Google's branch to your own version will become problematic, time consuming and costly.

I maintain my own version of jQuery, parsely.js and bootstrap (I added in legacy IE support). I don't have time to merge the changes from new releases so as time goes on my version is becoming increasingly incompatible with the un-modified versions.

This is because I can't dedicate enough time at work to keeping up with the change of pace on these projects. And these are a few hundred lines of code.

Realistically if the project is large enough, the company that is developing controls the development, which isn't really that different from closed.

Edited 2013-10-22 18:27 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Huh?
by darknexus on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 18:45 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Huh?"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

[q] I maintain my own version of jQuery, parsely.js and bootstrap (I added in legacy IE support). I don't have time to merge the changes from new releases so as time goes on my version is becoming increasingly incompatible with the un-modified versions.

This is because I can't dedicate enough time at work to keeping up with the change of pace on these projects. And these are a few hundred lines of code.

It's interesting that Google's measures to supposedly prevent the fragmentation of Android may, in fact, cause it to fragment even worse in the long term. You're absolutely right that other companies/developers/whatever wouldn't be able to continue to backport (for lack of a better word) Google's changes into their branch. Besides, in the case of businesses with other goals, it may not even make sense to try. Android's already fragmented enough, any more diverging and Google might as well be the only one with the Android name. We'll have AmazonOS, SamsungOS, HTCOS, etc and Android as we see it now might just fade away into history.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Huh?
by lucas_maximus on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 19:58 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Huh?"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

I can easily see Amazon being able to put the resources in (they are at the end of the day a Software House) that happens to make decent hardware.

But HTC, Samsung, ZTE and friends. I can't see it. I can't talk about Samsung's SDK too much because I believe I maybe under NDA or my employer is ... but their free SDK tools are somewhat lacking and they have no easy "Hello World" and the Todo app / Blog example to get you up and running with some of their platform.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Huh?
by tidux on Wed 23rd Oct 2013 05:22 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Huh?"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

Show me one device with a blob-free kernel and we can talk.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Huh?
by ddc_ on Wed 23rd Oct 2013 15:47 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Huh?"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Show me one device with a blob-free kernel and we can talk.

There is x86 support in Android, so you can build a netbook that would run AOSP with no closed-source component. You'll most likely need to replace wireless card though.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Huh?
by bassbeast on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 21:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Huh?"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

I'm sorry but it doesn't work that way, open has in this case a VERY specific meaning, something is either open or its not, it can't be open and closed anymore than you an be both short and tall, they are really mutually exclusive. All one has to do is look at TFA to see why this is so, it would be like saying a TiVo is "open" because it used a Linux kernel when you can't actually exercise the four freedoms.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Huh?
by BallmerKnowsBest on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 20:48 UTC in reply to "Huh?"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

But but, I thought Android was open. We've been told so countless times on this site.


I'm sure this must be a startling revelation... if you're a simpleton who views the world solely in terms of black-and-white absolutes.

Reply Score: 4

...
by Hiev on Mon 21st Oct 2013 23:51 UTC
Hiev
Member since:
2005-09-27

From "Do not be evil" to "Do not be Open".

Reply Score: 3

This is a part of bigger picture
by ddc_ on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 01:03 UTC
ddc_
Member since:
2006-12-05

Google actually is closing up (in terms of "openness" and "interoperability") nearly everything. They are screwing AOSP. They introduce new Gmail features that aren't available via IMAP (and their IMAP interface to Gmail is really optimized for driving nuts the users who don't use IMAP exclusively). Their drive still has no usable public API, so that it can only be used via remaining Google Documents API bits. They replaced their available-via-XMPP Talk with custom, proprietary and walled Hangouts (feeding the users with future WebRTC interface in a way that sounds like this would make Hangouts somehow more open; oh, and http://www.google.com/hangouts/ actually mentions only iOS, Android and Chrome as supported platforms - no other browsers). They pushed several other services into Google+, which is otherwise locked down. And their aggressive account watchdog made me change my account password twice when I tried to pair some third-party web services with Google products.

Apparently they seem to pass from stage 1 (building up user base) to stage 2 (securing user base), which really makes user choose between using Google services and non-Google services.

Edited 2013-10-22 01:07 UTC

Reply Score: 10

jonsmirl Member since:
2005-07-06

This isn't as black and white as it seems. IM spam was out of control coming in over the XMPP federation. Gdrive can easily be turned into a massive copyright infringement vehicle if it isn't controlled. Gmail is adding features that don't really map on to imap. etc...

Edited 2013-10-22 01:29 UTC

Reply Score: 1

wojtek Member since:
2010-01-24

This isn't as black and white as it seems. IM spam was out of control coming in over the XMPP federation. Gdrive can easily be turned into a massive copyright infringement vehicle if it isn't controlled. Gmail is adding features that don't really map on to imap. etc...


I'm using XMPP for almost a decade (not on google) and had never issue with spam thus trying to explain this with spam looks terrible; you have authentication, you can set server to only process messages from authenticated users, and so forth; still - they could simply shut s2s and leave xmpp - that would work but and prevent spam but allow broad choice of software and this is what annoys google - lack of controll;

Gdrive couldn't go that because of the file/size limitations and lack of API doesn't change that in any way, it only prevents other devs from creating apps and gives google more controll over how people have to do stuff;

OK, what featurs couldn't relly map on imap? I mean - most prominent change recently was introduction of smart labels (uber dumb an annoying as I can't remove those, argh) and most of my friends are rather irritated by those 'improvements'...

You're right it's not so black and white, but the direction google is heading is not that 100% bright either

Reply Score: 2

ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Exactly. I only want to add a couple of details:

Google already have a better copyright infringements vehicle - youtube - and they successfully cope with that; FWIW I don't see why API would make any difference in terms of copyright protection - I can upload whatever I want via web UI.

From day one Google's IMAP interface was superficially ugly: silently discarding changes to message headers, presenting labels as folders (in contrast to X-Label header support nearly in every mail client software), custom flags were used where headers naturally (and historically) fit. After all these years I still don't see any reason to make things work this way - apart from Google's will to make IMAP interface barely usable and force everyone into web UI.

Reply Score: 3

wojtek Member since:
2010-01-24

apart from Google's will to [...] force everyone into web UI.


you can't show ads via API and open standards like IMAP...

Reply Score: 5

ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Actually, if they really cared about ads most, they could at least try to make an API and request displaying ads in terms of service. I believe they are trying to get as much users Google-only as is possible. The easiest way to do it is to:

1. make really solid and consistent set of services and
2. make these services bad in interoperability with third-party services.

This fits well with Google's push on Chrome and Chrome-specific apps.

Reply Score: 4

wojtek Member since:
2010-01-24

while second point is very well established now, first one is only so-so... while a while back google was very good with it's services, recently (IMHO) its going downhill... limiting options how to user services is a minus, forcing g+ (i know noone using nor wanting it), hangouts (again - noone I know use it, everyone stay with gtalk), removing reader and so forth...

Reply Score: 1

ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

I actually sometimes use g+, and it has its uses. That said, I still find it a pitiful substitute for newsgroups and mailing lists. And it is much more difficult to drag anyone into Hangouts then it ever was to Talk - I am actually forced to use Skype now just because of this change.

Reply Score: 3

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

you can't show ads via API and open standards like IMAP...

Oh, yes you can. Just stick them straight in the iMap inbox, like what some of us got "selected" to test when they changed the new inbox layout. Trust me, there are ways to do it and they're intrusive as all hell. Even Google had to stop doing it due to user complaints.

Reply Score: 4

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

they could simply shut s2s and leave xmpp - that would work but and prevent spam but allow broad choice of software and this is what annoys google - lack of controll;

But they did just that, xmpp access to Gtalk still works, I'm using it all the time from Miranda IM.

Reply Score: 2

I just have to say.
by Windows Sucks on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 01:28 UTC
Windows Sucks
Member since:
2005-11-10

It's funny how Apple is the devil for doing what they have done since the company started but Google gets a pass for tricking everyone.

I mean I almost want to say "Suckers" but that would be rude.

Reply Score: 5

RE: I just have to say.
by mattymoo on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 02:51 UTC in reply to "I just have to say. "
mattymoo Member since:
2011-12-29

My opinion has changed dramatically on Google over the past 2 years, I didn't mind them prior to that, and probably would have given them a free pass as you say.

They just keep making decision after decision that makes them just as bad as the rest of IBM/M$/Apple/Oracle large corporations. I'm in the process of migrating my digital life away from them.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: I just have to say.
by moondevil on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 06:14 UTC in reply to "RE: I just have to say. "
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Geeks happen to have this ideal of giving companies human features of good and bad.

However, companies are business and are in the game for the money and joy of their directors board.

If they happen to look nice to geeks, it is just a casual fact that their current strategy sees profits in doing business that happens to appeal to geeks.

Whoever thinks otherwise is just deluding her/himself.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: I just have to say.
by ddc_ on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 12:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I just have to say. "
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

Appealing to geeks seems to be a part of early Google's strategy. Indeed they tried to convince everyone that they are "good" whatever that would mean. And it lasted - remember the sentiment about acquisition of On2 and subsequent VP8 release?

Reply Score: 3

RE: I just have to say.
by BallmerKnowsBest on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 20:47 UTC in reply to "I just have to say. "
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

It's funny how Apple is the devil for doing what they have done since the company started but Google gets a pass for tricking everyone.


Really now, who was tricked by this? Anyone here who didn't see this coming half a decade should immediately turn in their geek card, replace their computer with an iProduct, and sign up for an AOL account. For that matter, same goes for anyone who acts like Google services are "essential" - when someone talks about being "locked in" to GMail, I can only assume that means they're too cheap/lazy/technically inept to spend the $50/year & 30 minutes of effort it would take to setup a domain name and a decent virtual hosting account.

Reply Score: 2

Sigh...
by 1c3d0g on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 01:50 UTC
1c3d0g
Member since:
2005-07-06

Everybody seems to be losing sight of the fact that the real reason Google is moving everything they can to the Play store, is because the damn carriers/manufacturers (pick the one to blame) are TOO GOD DAMN SLOW to update Android within a reasonable timeframe.

This way, Android can still stay relatively fresh with new content/features/bug fixes when Google pushes out a new update, instead of waiting for the silly carriers/manufacturers to stop sitting on their ass and actually do something with their outdated software.

Sure, this is not the ideal way, but it's the best compromise Google can come up with. If any of you have better ideas, please share it with the rest of the world.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Sigh...
by some1 on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 03:33 UTC in reply to "Sigh..."
some1 Member since:
2010-10-05

Certainly not everyone. Thom wrote quite a lot about that being of one the reasons. However, if this was the only reason, nothing would stop Google from open sourcing their Play Store version of the app (e.g. keyboard). I don't think this ever happened yet.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Sigh...
by BlueofRainbow on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 03:57 UTC in reply to "Sigh..."
BlueofRainbow Member since:
2009-01-06

The positive is moving the user visible parts to the Play Store so that end-users can get the better/more recent experience despites the OEM being slow in updating their Android-ware. In this fashion, Android appears never to lag iOS.

The negative is that the open-source apps are now 2 or 3 generations behind their Google closed-source refinements and the gap will keep increasing. And any OEM straying from the Google path appears ruthlessly ejected from the collective or bullied to cease their efforts. This feels like a "bait and switch" tactic for complete control of the mobile platform.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Sigh...
by gubol123 on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 08:52 UTC in reply to "Sigh..."
gubol123 Member since:
2005-09-12

If the only reason for moving them to play store is because carriers are slow in updating Andriod, they can move apps to Play Store and still keep them open... better yet move the existing apps to play store and keep improving them, rather than replacing them with closed apps...

Reply Score: 5

RE: Sigh...
by dsmogor on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 13:11 UTC in reply to "Sigh..."
dsmogor Member since:
2005-09-01

Pushing stuff to Play doesn't contradict with OSS. Google is however using that modularization as an excuse of levaving AOSP behind.

Reply Score: 3

focal isn't CM
by stabbyjones on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 02:00 UTC
stabbyjones
Member since:
2008-04-15

focal was removed from CM as the company wanted the license changed from GPL and the developer refused.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by Morgan
by Morgan on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 03:49 UTC
Morgan
Member since:
2005-06-29

I'm of two minds about this. I recently got a Nexus 4 to replace my HTC One S (I would rather have spent $30 on a new battery for the One than way too much for a new phone altogether, but HTC forgot to put a removable battery in the darn thing). I absolutely love the Zen that is vanilla Google Android, and I can't imagine any fork of the OS to be as feature-complete, fluid, and useful as what I have now.

On the other hand, I want to see non-Google-approved versions of AOSP out there with full functionality, because while I am satisfied with my perfectly working phone, someone else may be better off (or simply prefer) a Google-free Android phone. As the article mentions, there are a lot of good reasons to use a Google-free phone, and a few bad reasons too (Chinese censorship, etc). Regardless, there is a market for such devices.

I really don't think any good can come of this in the long run; Google has built a reputation for respecting open source from the beginning, and now they are trampling on their own values to serve the Almighty Dollar. I find it deliciously ironic that I now own a device that bears Google's name on the back, yet will allow me to escape to greener pastures if necessary, due to the openness of its design.

Reply Score: 8

Let's prevent the mess of Linux
by miguelholandes on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 09:37 UTC
miguelholandes
Member since:
2013-02-07

I am actually glad Google does this. I do not see how it limits my usage of their products, and... linux is completely open and see where it is at.... even the biggest distro (ubuntu) is full of annoying bugs. The reason why Android could become so popular was that it was not an ordinary open source project with lots of forks.... am I right? At least that is my impression. The linux world should be ashamed that they could not in so many years what Android did in only a few years... using the same kernel.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Let's prevent the mess of Linux
by ddc_ on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 11:15 UTC in reply to "Let's prevent the mess of Linux"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

The reason why Android could become so popular was that it was not an ordinary open source project with lots of forks.... am I right?

Oh, sure Android's popularity has nothing to do with the fact that it was backed up by Google and thus available from quite a number of vendors early on...

Really, the whole "forks are bad" whining has nothing to do with the real world. Master repos continue existing after forks are done, and even benefit from their forks by sucking in changes that would be too risky or simply not viable in terms of project's resources. That is: forks don't split value from master, they only add value to it. That's why Github is so popular BTW.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 09:45 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

What I have always been telling friends is that the true openess of Android is not openess of the source code (Honeycomb didn't have any source open) or openess of APIs (the Maps API was always closed), but openess of features like the ability to have MicroSD card if you want or the ability to sideload.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by kurkosdr
by henderson101 on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 12:05 UTC in reply to "Comment by kurkosdr"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

You will never get a MicroSD card in an official Google product. This is for one reason mainly (and I'm no expert, but this is what I've been led to believe), the way the USB mass storage protocol works involves unmounting the SD card from the OS proper and mounting it as a Mass storage device. That means that the OS loses all ability to do anything with that drive whilst it is unmounted from the host OS. That means that the drive can't hold any apps, as they would break at that point. This is why all Google devices use the MTP protocol instead. That protocol doesn't require a device to be unmounted and can be presented "live" to the target OS and the host OS at the same time. This is despite the potential for (V)FAT patents etc.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by kurkosdr
by darknexus on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 12:59 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kurkosdr"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

This is why all Google devices use the MTP protocol instead. That protocol doesn't require a device to be unmounted and can be presented "live" to the target OS and the host OS at the same time. This is despite the potential for (V)FAT patents etc.

Yes, but MTP by no means forces the non-use of SD cards. Just present the MicroSD card as a virtual folder in your MTP layer and boom, that's it. No unmounting, no filesystem trouble. Easy, and the MTP protocol is perfectly capable of doing just that.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by kurkosdr
by henderson101 on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 16:57 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kurkosdr"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

Yep, then (V)FAT patent issues come in to play, as does the fact that the SD card then become a heck of a lot harder to un-mount on demand. Consumers want to be able to pop out the card whenever they want and use in other devices. Whereas the way the drive would need to be mounted doesn't necesaily lend itself to that. Not impossible, but why bother if you have access to the internal storage? That was the angle that the Google engineers seemed to take in the fireside chat I watched a while back. You then don't need to make concessions with what you can actually use the extra space for too, because it is part of the root file system.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by kurkosdr
by darknexus on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 18:38 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by kurkosdr"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Yep, then (V)FAT patent issues come in to play, as does the fact that the SD card then become a heck of a lot harder to un-mount on demand. Consumers want to be able to pop out the card whenever they want and use in other devices.

Have you seen how the majority of phones that take microSD cards are designed these days? You have to take the damned battery out just to get at the card. They're not being designed to remove on demand anymore so much as they are being used as a semi-permanent storage expansion. (V)fat issues need never come into play in this use-case, as MTP abstracts the filesystem by design. You could use any fs you wanted and, as with networked filesystems, the average user wouldn't even notice.

Whereas the way the drive would need to be mounted doesn't necesaily lend itself to that. Not impossible, but why bother if you have access to the internal storage? That was the angle that the Google engineers seemed to take in the fireside chat I watched a while back. You then don't need to make concessions with what you can actually use the extra space for too, because it is part of the root file system.

Except that you can't expand it. That is, after all, the point of using a MicroSD card in the first place. Internal storage is damn nice... right up until you don't have anymore of it. Then it becomes a problem, and it's a problem that using something like a MicroSD card would solve.

Reply Score: 4

what is open?
by Janvl on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 18:21 UTC
Janvl
Member since:
2007-02-20

I guess there is hope for ubuntu touch.

Android is to me like a crippled linux, only ment to consume.

Reply Score: 1

RE: what is open?
by Morgan on Tue 22nd Oct 2013 22:49 UTC in reply to "what is open?"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Ubuntu is slowly but steadily moving towards a closed design too. I have no idea how far they will take it, but their focus on mobile computing means inevitable NDAs and closed drivers with hardware partners, and that's a paving stone on the road to hell in the OSS world.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: what is open?
by darknexus on Wed 23rd Oct 2013 11:01 UTC in reply to "RE: what is open?"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Ubuntu is slowly but steadily moving towards a closed design too. I have no idea how far they will take it, but their focus on mobile computing means inevitable NDAs and closed drivers with hardware partners, and that's a paving stone on the road to hell in the OSS world.

Fortunately, the oss world has little to do with market success. On the other hand, I doubt Ubuntu is going to have much of that unless they really buckle down and create a product that isn't buggier than iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks combined. Canonical know what they want but they've no real roadmap for getting there.

Reply Score: 3

RE: what is open?
by spikeb on Fri 25th Oct 2013 18:11 UTC in reply to "what is open?"
spikeb Member since:
2006-01-18

ubuntu touch is just as much spyware for profit as google. screw canonical, and screw ubuntu.

Reply Score: 2

At the end of the day
by BallmerKnowsBest on Wed 23rd Oct 2013 15:18 UTC
BallmerKnowsBest
Member since:
2008-06-02

Google does some things that are deserving of criticism, there's no doubt about that. But if you skim through the comments on this article, it quickly becomes apparent that the loudest and shrillest voices whining about Google are also the most active members of the local Apple Defense Brigade. In other words, people with a clear agenda to criticize Google at every opportunity, solely because they see it as a threat to Apple - not people expressing genuine concerns and complaints.

The amusing part is that the over-zealousness of the iFanboys/Google anti-fanboys will likely have a "boy who cried wolf" effect. People are desensitized after 3-4 years of Apple apologists going into orgies of "but.... but.... but..." breathless hand-waving over every action Google has taken, so now they're less likely to care about actual problems.

Good job, guys!

Reply Score: 4

RE: At the end of the day
by ari-free on Wed 23rd Oct 2013 18:04 UTC in reply to "At the end of the day"
ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

I take any open source I can get and as long as Android is more open than Windows or Apple, I will go with Google, even if it doesn't meet RMS' lofty standards.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: At the end of the day
by BallmerKnowsBest on Wed 23rd Oct 2013 22:03 UTC in reply to "RE: At the end of the day"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

I take any open source I can get and as long as Android is more open than Windows or Apple, I will go with Google, even if it doesn't meet RMS' lofty standards.


Yep, and that's the other absurd part of it: no matter how much time & effort the iFanboys spend pointing out parts of Android that aren't open, the simple fact of the matter is that it's still more open than iOS. So if lack of openness is something to be abhorred, then iOS is infinitely worse than Android (hypothetically, of course, since Apple apologists would need to understand the concept of "intellectual consistency" to come to that conclusion).

Watching iFanboys complain about Android not being 100% open is ridiculous, in the same way that it's ridiculous to watch creationists trying to complain that "evolution is a religion."

Reply Score: 4

RE: At the end of the day
by spikeb on Fri 25th Oct 2013 14:28 UTC in reply to "At the end of the day"
spikeb Member since:
2006-01-18

sure, some of the anti defamation league for apple(TM) cries wolf. but the fact remains that google is 1) big and 2) bad. Apple is not a viable alternative to that, however. Nor is MS.

Reply Score: 2

bah
by spikeb on Fri 25th Oct 2013 14:26 UTC
spikeb
Member since:
2006-01-18

another reason to use OSS apps - they're not tied to google play services.

Reply Score: 2