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

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 These old, most likely outdated licensing terms cover the Google applications, and not the open source Android platform, which anyone can download, alter, build and ship.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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Thom, seriously, take a breath
by atsureki on Mon 17th Feb 2014 23:08 UTC
atsureki
Member since:
2006-03-12

Bright's article, which Hackborn did not "tear to shreds" but rather received with familiar defensiveness about Google's precious good intentions and not-being-evil, was about how it would be completely unproductive to fork AOSP, because it wouldn't give Microsoft any technology they haven't already built themselves and it wouldn't grant any compatibility with actual Android apps that exist, full stop.

In order to get compatibility with actual Android apps that exist, you have to buy into the entire Google ecosystem, all strings attached, including a mandatory (for both OEM and user) installation of the Google+ app that no one wants and a clause forbidding your company from using AOSP in any other ways.

Bright's completely un-torn-to-shreds article correctly points out that Android without Google's full suite of "added" value is nothing recognizable as Android, and the fact is that no part of GMS is open: not the code, not the terms, not the updates, not the review process.

These newly released licensing terms additionally make it clear that Android's dependence on Google is no accident or technical necessity, as Hackborn would have you believe. Android OEMs are not "free" to decline to incorporate Google+ or to use Skyhook for location services, because Google makes it mandatory that you align your phone's function completely with Google's apps, services, and vision, and that you not simultaneously leverage AOSP into any less-Googly alternatives. You can argue that that's fair as a form of payment, but not in the same breath as you argue that Androidâ„¢ is open.

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