Google vowed that its Linux-based Android mobile platform would empower enthusiasts and amateur developers, but today we have seen compelling evidence that this is an empty promise. Third-party Android application developers, who have grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of SDK updates, were shocked to discover that Google has been secretly making new versions of the Android SDK available to the Android Developer Challenge (ADC) finalists under non-disclosure agreements.
Google’s Android Platform: Not so Open After All
2008-07-16 11:57 pmrobilad
You haven’t seen an open source project pull such a stunt because Android is not an open source project.
Let me rephrase that as ‘not yet’ an open source project, to leave some room for hope that it may be one some day.
Edited 2008-07-17 00:06 UTC
2008-07-17 12:06 amMamiyaOtaru
“[iI can’t recall the name of another open source project that did something similar. Never the less, their position was that they wanted to get the development rolling in a certain direction before they released the code. IIRC, they came through as promised.[/i]”
Sounds a bit like Novell and XGL. They did come through, but then other options presented themselves. But yeah, Google could be doing the same thing. Remains to be seen.
2008-07-17 1:59 amsbergman27
Sounds a bit like Novell and XGL. They did come through, but then other options presented themselves.
And quickly supplanted it.
2008-07-17 6:11 amapoclypse
Are you talking about XGL and compiz maybe?
2008-07-17 6:17 pmbackdoc
I don’t remember. I just knew it rang a bell for me. I probably shouldn’t have even posted when I didn’t have any more facts than that. I just have my doubts that Google would double cross the open source community. And, that was my point. I could be wrong. But, I doubt it.
That was truly a brutal article!
A Linux based platform that’s locked into “Java” applications and an outdated SDK that’s inferior to the NDA-only one?
Seriously, Google, you’re not doing your reputation justice… I mean, you guys just stepped into the net neutrality battle here in Canada but are secretly doing stuff like this? honestly.
Edited 2008-07-16 19:03 UTC
I knew it all the time. Google is the new Microsoft!
2008-07-16 9:27 pmcyclops
I don’t want to disappoint but Microsoft is still Microsoft.
The company has manipulated its search results all along to favour advertising. Is it a company concerned about open source and fair dealings or is it a business?
It might matter in the short term and generate bad press but the fact is that, in the end, it will provide more choice in the market and make the market more interesting for phones.
Would you be upset if you had never known what happened?
The article seems a bit harsh – I’ve been only vaguely interested in Android (after finding out it’ll be a while before they actually live up to their open promise), but the under-NDA SDK’s already caused some uproar around google’s I/O festival end of may this year. I noticed it on the public IRC channel, but it’s probably been discussed more broadly.
The reason, supposedly, is that some of the OHA vendors have contributed some API’s for functionality they don’t want to reveal yet. Lame, but hey, that’s the corporate mobile world for ya.
wonder whether Google is really committed to making Android an equal-opportunity platform for enthusiast developers
Uh, did they ever claim Android would be that? They claimed it’d be open, and organized an ‘Alliance’ of industry members around it. Of course, they watered down the ‘openness’ part by postponing it until the OHA partners have a head-start in releasing Android devices, but I guess one has to make compormises to play with the industry boys here…
Personally, I think this kind of commercial/open-combinations can lead to great things if done right, but as this example show shows it’s hard to pull off successfully without stepping on toes.
Hell, even OpenMoko (which is about as open as it gets here) has received some criticism in the communication department.
Edited 2008-07-16 21:57 UTC
I was kinda fascinated by the iPhone, and it seemed there were going to be no other alternative for same quality.
Then I heard about Android. I was really exited, finnaly: an open linux plattform that works for normal non-geeks!
I was quite impressed by the demos and hoped they would get to the point of, or beyond iPhone.
But … delays, complaints about the SDK, and now: this?
A friend of mine is offering his 1st gen iPhone cheaply(I don’t really need 3G) and I’m considering to just get that instead.
2008-07-16 10:03 pmmmu_man
You sure ?
better read this first:
(yeah I know it sounds extremist, but they have some points right)
2008-07-16 11:44 pmTLZ_
No, not sure.
And you’re not making my choice any easier here!
Anyway, I’m getting less and less ethical oreiented and more and more practical oriented. I want to do stuff more than I want to fullfill the prophet’s(Stallmann) ethic and religion.
No offence meant, even though I use prop. software I deeply respect those who despite the inconvencience stand stubborn and use it.
(Not such a big fan of the moralism though. It’s like conservative christiantiy vs. liberal. Nobody likes people who talk about the apocalypse. Not that I care for religion at all anyway…. maybe a bad example.)
2008-07-17 6:00 amSoulbender
Heh. Yeah, a bit extremist…
iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple
It does? It is impossible for a free software developer to “pay the tax” (which isn’t a tax at all) and make open source software?
iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.
How cute it is to misinterpret the DRM acronym. That aside, who cares? While DRM can be used for nefarious purposes it’s not inherently evil. You can use Linux to build nuclear bombs, does that make Linux bad?
iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.
And further down:
It’s also a tracking device, and like other proprietary GPS-enabled phones, can transmit your location without your knowledge.
Sooooo…it’s pretty much like every other GPS-enabled mobile phone? Wow, that sure is a compelling reason.
iPhone won’t play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora.
Ok, that’s a bit of a bummer, especially if you rip your own stuff to Ogg or Theora.
iPhone is not the only option.
Does that even count as a reason? Here’s a reason to not use Linux; there are alternatives.
As of November 2007, 3.3 billion people in the world had mobile telephones, and the number continues to rise rapidly.
Of all the technology people use that could be turned against them, this is one of the most frightening possibilities.
A) most of these people will NEVER own an iPhone.
B) most of them are already using closed source, restricting phones.
2008-07-17 4:01 pmemerson999
1)blocks free software: Jailbreak it.
2)endorses and supports Digital Restrictions: Works fine with normal mp3s, don’t like the drm, don’t use it.
3)exposes your whereabouts: Well, yes, it’s a cellphone.
4) won’t play patent- and DRM-free formats like Ogg Vorbis and Theora: Mildly annoying, but nothing’s stopping anyone from writing a player.
5) iPhone is not the only option. There are better alternatives on the horizon: If the options are only theoretical at this point, than there is only one. And the neo, while nice for what it is, really isn’t the same class of device anyway.
2008-07-17 6:57 pmraboof
blocks free software: Jailbreak it.
Jailbreaking is something Apple is trying to forbid, both technically (who knows whether the next software upgrade will kill your jailbroken phone?) and legally (voiding the warranty when jailbreaking).
The reason for all those limitations are not technical, purely commercial.
Personally, I don’t want to buy a phone whose vendor is so hostile to my own interests (for example, putting custom applications on it without breaking the rules or coughing up fees).
With the “Summer of Code”, Google have been doing some great stuff on the open-source scene, and good PR for them too.
However, this kind of news really puts a damper on things.
Google’s Android Platform: Not so Open After All
Yet still more open than it’s competition.
In fact that whole article smacks of “oh I’m so hard done to because Google havn’t included me in their secret SDK trials.”
For Gods sake give Google a chance. They are a commertial company releasing a comertical product and Android isn’t even due for release yet!
I’m sure the same people moaning over Google secrecy would be moaning about the frequent SDK updates and having to constantly re-code their applications if Google publically released every SDK update.
So they did something like an closed beta… yeah, that is a first in history.
Almost as wickedly evil as Apple for not having the newest version of Java VM when everybody else has.
Come on people, grow up.
If you want to think positively, it might be just because of some marketing related issue. If something in the new SDK gives out something that device producers want to keep under wraps for now, then this is just playing well with device business.
Furthermore, if Google tries to screw FOSS people. FOSS people can just continue where Google left off with the old SDK. Or everyone can just come to their senses and acknowledge that Java only devices are doomed from the start. Remember NPC and DVB-MHP. What the hell makes people think that resource hungry Java would go well with slow and limited hardware.
p.s. Just flaming on the last part. As long as the app is really tiny and slowness is not a factor, Java is fine anywhere. 🙂
2008-07-17 7:08 amraboof
if Google tries to screw FOSS people. FOSS people can just continue where Google left off with the old SDK.
Except that, last time I looked, the SDK hasn’t been open-sourced (yet).
2008-07-17 7:16 ammieses
Except that, last time I looked, the SDK hasn’t been open-sourced (yet).
So there is still potential for Android to be lame in an Apple kind of way.
Maybe Maemo/Mamona have some potential despite the association with Nokia.
Once telephones are out, no one will care if people were crying about earlier SDK’s. Apple released their SDK 1 year after the device is out. so people should stop whining. it is not easy to release SDK’s without devices. i am sure there are not only technical but logistic reasons behind.
This only goes to show that all companies are alike.
Given enough market share, you wouldn’t distinguish Google from Microsoft.
Oh well, back to work.
This is kind of off topic, but in reply to a couple of posts…
At the moment, only DRM’d enabled apps will run on the iPhone. You can download the SDK (if you are running OS X) and create your own apps as you please, but Apple approves them before you can share them with others.
There are a few models you can share with however, one being only with certain clients (i.e. a vertical business app). I believe they have around 3 different distribution models…
Anyway, my thought… This should help prevent malware/spyware and so on from infecting the device. I’m pretty sure Apple wont DRM such applications, so the chances of installing one without prior knowledge must be lowered… I’m sure the DRM can be faked, but anyway, just a thought…
Oh, as for free software, there is nothing stopping you from writing “free” software and distributing that without any tax. In fact, Apple will incur all costs to distribute it for you.
The only downside to the iPhone app model is what Apple will allow or not allow. That is a cause of concern. I wont be naive to believe this will always be justified.
I guess you can’t trust anyone today. Everyone is trying to make money of every piece of software he/she can code/steal/redo.
Guess we have to wait and see what their intentions are/were. ATM, I can’t recall the name of another open source project that did something similar. Never the less, their position was that they wanted to get the development rolling in a certain direction before they released the code. IIRC, they came through as promised. Possibly, Google will come through, as well.