Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 13th Feb 2014 23:38 UTC

Another day, another fear-mongering 'Android is closed!'-article at Ars Technica. After Peter Bright's article last week (sharply torn to shreds by Dianne Hackborn), we now have an article with the scary title "New Android OEM licensing terms leak; 'open' comes with a lot of restrictions".

The title itself is already highly misleading, since one, the licensing terms aren't new (they're from early 2011 - that's three years old), and two, they're not licensing terms for Android, but for the suite of Google applications that run atop Android.

This article makes the classic mistake about the nature of Android. It conflates the Android Open Source Project with the suite of optional proprietary Google applications, the GMS. These old, most likely outdated licensing terms cover the Google applications, and not the open source Android platform, which anyone can download, alter, build and ship. Everyone can build a smartphone business based on the Android Open Source Project, which is a complete smartphone operating system.

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Is AOSP still 'Android'?
by oskeladden on Fri 14th Feb 2014 00:17 UTC
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Thom, I think the point is that whilst AOSP is still clearly open, AOSP and Android are diverging so rapidly that it's starting to get difficult to say they're the same OS. If the most popular applications written for one version of a platform will not work on another, and if the user experience is fundamentally different, are they really still the same OS? We're not quite at that stage as yet, but with the ever-deepening integration of cloud features into Android, there's a real chance that we'll get there in a couple of releases.

I should stress that I'm not finding fault with Google. But I really did like Andy Rubin's pithy definition of 'open', and I feel slightly sad that we're getting to a point where if you issue those commands, you'll end up with an OS that is no longer fully compatible with the OS Google actually ships to its commercial partners.

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