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Google's Definition of 'Open'

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the you-may-ride-the-bus-but-we-are-driving-the-bus dept.

Android 168

An anonymous reader writes "One of Android's biggest draws is its roots in open source. It enables a broad range of device manufacturers to work from the same code base, and provides app developers with more insight into the platform they're building on. But openness isn't a binary condition — there are many shades of gray. While Android is technically very open, from a practical standpoint it's much more difficult for device makers to distance themselves from Google, if that's their preference. 'Phone manufacturers and carriers that want to use Google's services must conform to Google's device standards, a stricter requirement than what basic AOSP requires. For some, this is a catch. For others, it's merely the cost of doing business. ... [Dianne Hackborn, one of Android's tech leads,] defends Google's right to include proprietary services, and to keep them proprietary, saying that its no different than any other proprietary app on Android. That's not entirely true, since Google does keep some API development to itself, but to its credit the company does open-source most of the new APIs introduced to Android.'"

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Excelent read on Ars tech. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254557)

Google’s iron grip on Android [arstechnica.com]

Great story how Google gets it grip on Android.

Re:Excelent read on Ars tech. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254671)

Great story how Google gets it grip on Android.

However, as a counterpoint, here is a far less histrionic story which shows that AOSP is growing FASTER than Goog'es own Android, and has already easiy eclipsed iOS market share. Not to mention Nokia's Normandy phone, to be released later this month running a forked version of AOSP matched with Nokia serices rather than Google ones.

ABI Research reports that Android once again dominated the Q4 2013 shipment numbers for smartphone advanced operating systems with 77% market share of over 280 million smartphones shipped in Q4 2013.Nearly one billion smartphones were shipped in 2013, Android accounting for 78% across the year.

Android’s dominance is not quite as rosy as it seems though, with most of the growth coming from forked Android operating systems (137% year-on-year), mainly in China, India, and adjacent markets. Forked Android or AOSP accounted for 25% market share with 71 million unit shipments, as opposed to certified Android’s share of 52%, of a total of 77% market share.

https://www.abiresearch.com/pr... [abiresearch.com]

For some reason, there's a concerted campaign happening to try to convince people that Google has locked up Android. It's an odd thing to pretend, and I'm wondering what their motive is?

Re:Excelent read on Ars tech. (3, Informative)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 6 months ago | (#46254855)

However, as a counterpoint, here is a far less histrionic story which shows that AOSP is growing FASTER than Goog'es own Android

Except you left out the part that says AOSP is growing faster than Google Android only in China and India.

As for the Ars Technica article, it's not histrionics to state facts:

Google apps—mainly Gmail, Maps, Google Now, Hangouts, YouTube, and the Play Store -- are Android's killer apps, and manufacturers want these apps on their phones.

While it might not be an official requirement, being granted a Google apps license will go a whole lot easier if you join the Open Handset Alliance. The OHA is a group of companies committed to Android—Google's Android—and members are contractually prohibited from building non-Google approved devices. Joining the OHA requires a company to promise to not build a device that runs a competing Android fork.

Acer was bit by this requirement when it tried to build devices that ran Alibaba's Aliyun OS in China. Aliyun is an Android fork, and when Google got wind of it, Acer was told to shut the project down or lose its access to Google apps.

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 doesn't have many other choices.

Re:Excelent read on Ars tech. (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 6 months ago | (#46254955)

Except you left out the part that says AOSP is growing faster than Google Android only in China and India.

So, only in the two (potentially) largest markets in the world, then?

Re: Excelent read on Ars tech. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255193)

Yes, only in two of the most populous yet low margin markets.

Re: Excelent read on Ars tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255227)

"Yes, only in two of the most populous yet low margin markets."

Low margin? On telcos' speech the low margin markets are the matured ones, USA and EU, that is.

Re:Excelent read on Ars tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255319)

Wait, Google prevents OEMs from making parts for Amazon? looks like Google is the new Microsoft.....

Re:Excelent read on Ars tech. (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 months ago | (#46255703)

The bold part looks like something that is almost certainly illegal, as it indicates that Google is controlling a cartel. If they put that in a public license agreement, then they need to fire their entire corporate legal team.

Re:Excelent read on Ars tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254757)

I would not call anything Ron Amadeo writes "great". His articles on Ars Technica are mostly just wild speculation about what Google is doing. Most of the arguments are rebutted in a comment but Diane Hackborn [arstechnica.com] (from a different article), which is mentioned in the summary.

Re:Excelent read on Ars tech. (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46255113)

Interesting yes. But is it any worse than the iron grip apple has on IOS? The grip is only there if you want to include google services. One is more than free to fork android if they choose (kindle for example) however there are no options with IOS except for those put forth by apple.

It's worse than Apple (2)

mozumder (178398) | about 6 months ago | (#46255161)

Apple at least doesn't try to give you the illusion of openness. They make it very clear you're dealing with Apple's overall direction, which makes the system simpler to deal with - you know exactly what's going on, and you know that Apple sells systems, not subtly advertisement-driven operating systems like Google.

It's far easier to deal with something you understand than with something that's trying to hide its motives.

Re:It's worse than Apple (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46255289)

I dont think they are trying to hide anything when it comes to this. Its very straight forward actually.

If you want the google play you have to include all google software. If you dont want google play, you dont need to worry about it. Amazon is doing quite fine with its kindle

So, don't use Google Apps (4, Informative)

Virtucon (127420) | about 6 months ago | (#46254569)

You can use other apps and app markets on your android device. You don't have to use Google Search, Maps or Mail because there are free or very low cost alternatives to them and they don't have the clingy, Google scam you out of your data smell. Getting rid of them is a snap in most cases and there's literally dozens of websites that can help you do it. Sure when you get an "update" from your phone maker you'll probably get them all back again but it's easy enough to remove them or you can go with something like Cyanogenmod and never worry about it again. There are alternative AOSP based distros out there that don't have that Google smell so look around, It's really not that hard. If you've never rooted your phone or sideloaded an app or changed the OS it can be somewhat intimidating but you can also find help out there online and via local phone store kiosks (forget the pimple crowd at the Sprint, Verizon or AT&T stores) who can set you up in no time.

I do have to say that the nicest thing about Android based phones is that there are alternatives. For example, I don't have Google Apps and use Skobbler for the navigation. It uses OpenStreetMap and I recently downloaded a couple of countries and really like the fact that I could navigate, offline.

Re:So, don't use Google Apps (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254611)

Bullshit article once again. It's almost as insane as the Ars article that I read on the subject (how could I avoid reading it when Ars' staff has been spamming its links all over the place)

distance themselves from Google, ... that want to use Google's services

Editors - are you so fucking blind as to not see the blatant contradiction here?

Re:So, don't use Google Apps (4, Interesting)

elwinc (663074) | about 6 months ago | (#46255059)

Agreed. For me, the big draw of standard Android is maps/navigation/traffic. Decent speech recognition is the cherry on top. Being able to whip out my phone and say "navigate to airport" is worth a lot to me. The premise of the original article, "One of Android's biggest draws is its roots in open source" just doesn't ring true for me. In fact, I doubt it's true for the vast majority of Android users. I would suggest that Android's biggest draw is the price vs feature tradeoff. I'm aware that we aren't getting the main google apps for "free" but for many people they are getting them at an acceptable price.

Re:So, don't use Google Apps (5, Insightful)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 6 months ago | (#46255247)

The premise of the original article, "One of Android's biggest draws is its roots in open source" just doesn't ring true for me. In fact, I doubt it's true for the vast majority of Android users.

That's true, but it kind of hurts the original Android fans. That's exactly the thing that got a lot of the early Android fans (especially the ones on Slashdot) to excited about Android. They went around telling everyone they could have a chance to talk to, to switch to Android. Their motivation was that Android was an Open Source device operating system, but knowing that no one cares, they just said 'It's better'. Now that Google has made a lot of the Android experience not fit the classic Open Source model, these early fans are feeling a bit betrayed.

Re:So, don't use Google Apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46256159)

You just described crossing the chasm, a term made popular by a book in the 1990s, and it is a necessary step for a disruptive technology to make it long-term.

The gist of it is, what makes a product successful early on (ie. open source in this case) will not be good enough to take that product to the next level, so you have to switch from appealing to early adopters to appealing to majority. The trick is to know what appeals to the majority and when the right time to do it is.

Just one problem... (1)

Sable Drakon (831800) | about 6 months ago | (#46254659)

Not every phone that's out there has an AOSP or CM ROM available for it. So for some people, they really are stuck with whatever the OEM and carrier chose to cram on there. If you don't already have a phone and are willing to look for your ROM before buying, this is great. Those with existing handsets though have good odds of being stuck unless they're lucky enough to have a flagship device.

Re:Just one problem... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254685)

That's not the point of this article. This is about OEMs being able to sell devices with Android on them, but not include Google's standard apps.

It's weird FUD. I wonder what Microsoft expects to gain from it?

Re:Just one problem... (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 6 months ago | (#46254751)

Confusion and to try to stay relevant by saying "Hey we make a Smartphone OS too."

MS has their own set of problems. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | about 6 months ago | (#46254865)

MS still lacks market share, and one of their main problems is that windows phone 7 is the last platform supported by apps builders. It is that bad that they consider running android on windows [androidcentral.com] .

At the same time they have to push all phone makers to pay them patent licenses for patents for fat and what they madeup when windows mobile (5.x 6.x) was the big thing.

MS Never said to be open. They controll the gates to their app store, just like Apple takes full control of everything htat is allowed to run on their phone.

Beside your point of not being able to include google apps on them, developers are tied to using a devkit that does not have a lices that allows anyone to fork it.

Re:MS has their own set of problems. (1)

segin (883667) | about 6 months ago | (#46254957)

A Chinese developer did manage to port most of the Android userland atop Windows [socketeq.com] . It ran a large number of the Android software packages I threw at it, so long as no dependence on NDK/JNI libraries were in place. (Presumably, if the application developer they had the not-made-publicly-available NDK said Chinese developer had to make their port, they could port their native NDK bits to x86/win32.)

I did do a basic teardown of the software, and it's either a very, very, very convincing fake, or a legitimate port. Most of the native command-line tools in a real Android device are present as Win32 .exe binaries, and work as intended.

Re:MS has their own set of problems. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | about 6 months ago | (#46255501)

WIN32 Has little to do with the API that is available to windows phone 7/8. But still a interresting link if you compare that to the emulation effort of bluestacks.

Make it complete without Google apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254591)

Please, one of the big ones needs to be our knight in shining armor and make an Android phone without all the Google tie-ins. Make your own app-store that doesn't require a login or GUID from users, only from authors. Make a map and navigation app based on OSM. Include offline calendar and to-do lists, with optional syncing to a computer or an open source online service. Resist the urge to replace Google's apps with your own proprietary apps. Just make a phone worth buying.

Re: Make it complete without Google apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254695)

You mean a Kindle?

Re: Make it complete without Google apps (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46254785)

Please, one of the big ones needs to be our knight in shining armor and make an Android phone without all the Google tie-ins. Make your own app-store that doesn't require a login or GUID from users, only from authors. Make a map and navigation app based on OSM. Include offline calendar and to-do lists, with optional syncing to a computer or an open source online service. Resist the urge to replace Google's apps with your own proprietary apps. Just make a phone worth buying.

You mean a Kindle?

Or you can just buy a phone that has good Cynogenmod support and stick with the F-Droid [f-droid.org] open source app repository.

Re:Make it complete without Google apps (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 6 months ago | (#46254813)

The problem is that you won't (legally) get access to Google Play Services this way, which means you will be missing out on a lot of Android apps. I would be curious to find an actual number, though; all I'm seeing is a nebulous "many".

Re:Make it complete without Google apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255207)

Which is why one of the big ones needs to open an app-store that doesn't require registration for users. My phone is devoid of Google apps. I use F-Droid. I know exactly how barren the landscape is. App store competition, such that app authors feel a real need to be present outside of Google Play, is dearly needed.

Re:Make it complete without Google apps (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 months ago | (#46255727)

I had a look, and all of the proprietary Android apps that I'm currently running are available on the Amazon store, which you can download as an apk. I'd love to have a phone with the Amazon store and F-Droid installed by default, but without any of the Google things. If the device manufacturer would guarantee OTA security updates for 4-5 years, I'd buy one today.

Re:Make it complete without Google apps (2)

timmyf2371 (586051) | about 6 months ago | (#46255329)

Ironically, Microsoft via the Nokia Normandy is likely to be the first of the big players to do this.

I don't care (1)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#46254595)

Android is a breath of fresh air after using Apple, I prefer Android in every way, so having Google "set a standard" is fine with me.
Otherwise what will we get.

Re:I don't care (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254707)

There is more than google and apple. I use neither.

Re:I don't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254829)

The switch from Android to iOS is temporary; the switch from iOS to Android tends to be much more permanent for most users.

Disclaimer: I and several of my friends work at stores that sell both, and have much data between the five of us to flesh out this view.

Re:I don't care (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 6 months ago | (#46255851)

Is it the way Android spies on you that you like, or is it the way it advertises at you?

Re: I don't care (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46256067)

Apple spies on me too. Oh basilbrush never mind. Apple shill alert.

Works for me (4, Interesting)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 6 months ago | (#46254601)

Until Apple burst on the scene Carriers locked their platforms down, charged insane amounts of money for dev kits ($20k+) and were generally jerks to their customers. They had little or no desire to improve since they were making lots of money selling slightly better handsets and super high prices. Google does a good job reigning that in. The carriers aren't powerless in this equation either you know. I like that they're all at each other's throats :P.

Re: Works for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254851)

Palm WebOS

Re:Works for me (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 6 months ago | (#46254965)

The bigger issue for me is that from a user perspective - my android phone is still locked down. I need to root the phone if I want to uninstall the bloatware Verizon insists be on my phone.

Re:Works for me (2)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | about 6 months ago | (#46255251)

That's not an Android issue, its a Verizon issue. It's the main reason that I ditched Verizon. GSM phones are the most open phones.

Re: Works for me (2, Insightful)

Karlt1 (231423) | about 6 months ago | (#46255825)

That's not an Android issue, its a Verizon issue. It's the main reason that I ditched Verizon. GSM phones are the most open phones.

No it is an Android issue. I've had an iPhone on three of the four major carriers - AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile and none of them have ever had carrier installed crapware and I didn't have to wait for the carrier to decide to allow me to update to the latest OS.

Re:Works for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255071)

VS apple and what it charged to Newton developers?

Android charges $0 out of pocket for its SDK.

Re:Works for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255209)

Until Apple burst on the scene Carriers locked their platforms down, charged insane amounts of money for dev kits ($20k+) and were generally jerks to their customers. They had little or no desire to improve since they were making lots of money selling slightly better handsets and super high prices. Google does a good job reigning that in. The carriers aren't powerless in this equation either you know. I like that they're all at each other's throats :P.

Bbbbbbut, ... Apple is evil isn't it!?!?! Now I'm confused ...

hey guys... (2, Interesting)

advocate_one (662832) | about 6 months ago | (#46254603)

try making an iOS device and taking on the Apple Empire...

Re:hey guys... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | about 6 months ago | (#46255591)

wow, must have run into a couple of Apple fanboys with mod points... :P

OsmAnd for maps, ReplicantOS, Neo900 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254637)

I prefer OsmAnd for offline navigation because it is GPL Free Software that uses Open Street Maps data. Can you trust *any* proprietary maps application to not spy on you?

Also use ReplicantOS, an Android distro based on Cyanogenmod that replaces all non-Free software with Free GPL licensed alternatives. It uses F-Droid app store.

Neo900 is an open hardware phone currently under development based on the next-gen GTA04 boards. It's designed to use Nokia N900 case design (slide out keyboard) and will be able to run ReplicantOS.

Re: OsmAnd for maps, ReplicantOS, Neo900 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255203)

That seems mainstream and destined to be used be tens of people.

Didn't stop Amazon (5, Interesting)

AmericanBlarney (1098141) | about 6 months ago | (#46254643)

With the Kindle, I think the Amazon has been one of, if not the most, successful at embracing what Android provides as a core, but extending/customizing it to support their preferred business model. Sure, they did a lot of work on their fork of Android, but if other companies aren't willing to put the work in, don't complain about something you're getting for free.

Re:Didn't stop Amazon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254901)

Yes, Amazon expended a lot of effort to trap you into a different walled garden than Google does. Amazon built what is essentially the world's largest squid server to track your online habits. They also had to provide solid DRM or companies would not license digital content to them. An impressive amount of work to customize Android, motivated by the Apple and Google walled gardens.

Re:Didn't stop Amazon (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255097)

Yes, Amazon expended a lot of effort to trap you into a different walled garden than Google does. Amazon built what is essentially the world's largest squid server to track your online habits. They also had to provide solid DRM or companies would not license digital content to them. An impressive amount of work to customize Android, motivated by the Apple and Google walled gardens.

And after all that work Kindle still manages to suck ass.

Re:Didn't stop Amazon (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 months ago | (#46255749)

I was quite impressed with the Kindle Fire. My stepfather got one for Christmas, and is now using it as his primary computer. It was very easy to set up and use. I did find the pervasive adverts somewhat annoying, but from a UI perspective Amazon has done a pretty good job at implementing something that is easy for non-technical users to set up and run. The walled garden aspect is quite troubling though, and more so given that it's quite an appealing garden: no one would care about walled gardens if they didn't contain things people wanted.

Re:Didn't stop Amazon (5, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 6 months ago | (#46255349)

Amazon is a success story here, but it's also a cautionary one. When most people envision an "open" Android, they envision a world where up-and-comers are capable of disrupting the old guard, yet the reality is anything but that. Instead, what we see from Amazon's example is that the cost of entry for launching your own fork is owning an established media delivery system, having an already-established app store with tens of thousands of apps available from day one, and having a world-class backend on which to build alternatives to Google's services.

Who else has the resources to do something like that right now? By my count, no one. Microsoft would be the closest, since they have Azure and an established media content ecosystem, though they'd lack for Android apps. Sony? They lack for apps as well, though they're a possibility, since they have a media ecosystem and backend built up around their Playstation brand, which has tens of millions of users. Samsung? Probably not. They don't have the sort of ecosystem or services that could pull people away from Google.

The point is, while Android itself may be open, it's not truly open to anyone but the biggest players in the game, so long as the most valuable parts are kept locked away by Google. The problem isn't that Amazon had to do "a lot of work on their fork of Android", the problem is that they had to do a lot of work establishing themselves in those other areas for years in advance before that fork of Android could even possibly be considered viable.

Re:Didn't stop Amazon (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 6 months ago | (#46255843)

There are dozens (at least, probably more like hundreds), of small-player Android devices out there which are based on Android's open source. Sure, you lose out on the largest Android store, but there are quite a few other stores out there (Amazon's being probably the biggest, but by no means the only one). You don't often hear about them (because they're made by small players), but they do exist. Heck, I own one (an MP3 player/mini-tablet). Anyone who has the resources to make a tablet can make their own Android device.

Re:Didn't stop (Amazon, ...) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255351)

It is not just Amazon. You can setup Android apps to Jolla's Sailfish from Yandex Store. One can do the same on CM. MIUI has its own app store. Google Apps are simply not needed most of the time, despite some API challenges. Furthermore cloud and WebApps are cross platform, work on Android variants, iOS, Firefox OS, Sailfish, WP8 (the new burning platform), Tizen etc.

Re:Didn't stop (Amazon, ...) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255357)

Oh, I forgot to add Google's Chrome OS as a cloud/WebApp platform, as well as any desktop OS variants.

Choosing between evils (1)

Urkki (668283) | about 6 months ago | (#46254657)

"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before." (Mae West)

Well, this can be generalized to choosing between several evils. That would mean choosing WP for a lot of folks, I suppose... But what's scary is, choosing WP doesn't scare me any more.

Re:Choosing between evils (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254883)

"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before." (Mae West)

Her advice for choosing politicians?

Well, this can be generalized to choosing between several evils. That would mean choosing WP for a lot of folks, I suppose... But what's scary is, choosing WP doesn't scare me any more.

A lot of us here did try Word Perfect and preferred it over word. It was extremely popular with lawyers for a while which makes you wonder why its interaction with Windows kept getting broken. But can't imagine you mean Word Perfect there or the Washington Post.

Re:Choosing between evils (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46255133)

we are talking about phones. If you cant figure out WP = windows phone I dont know what to tell ya

Re:Choosing between evils (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 6 months ago | (#46254899)

if you are going to choose a minority player phone, may as well pick blackberry 10, it can run android apps

Re:Choosing between evils (1)

Urkki (668283) | about 6 months ago | (#46255095)

But is it evil? I'm not sure. Anyway, BB is not even on sale in my country I think, or at least I've never seen one. Then there's Jolla [jolla.com] of course, but I think it's definitely not evil, so not in the running for evil things to choose from.

Re:Choosing between evils (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255189)

"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before." (Mae West)

That's funny but it corresponds to the way people think. I remember when personal computers reached the mass adaption stage in the late '80s and early '90s, people saw Microsoft as a scrappy upstart led by a youthful visionary, so when they fell out with their partner IBM over Windows and OS/2 people decided to go with MS instead of with the Big Bad Monopolists. (By that time industry insiders had already seen enough of Bill Gates to know he was just as greedy and brutal as the IBM executives, and a lot smarter besides). Then Apple was reborn with the second coming of Steve Jobs and Apple looked awfully good in comparison with Microsoft.

Now it's Apple's turn to be the bad guys and Google looks like the saviors. Just wait a few years and there'll be another round of buyer's remorse.

You say that like that's a good thing... (2)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 6 months ago | (#46254723)

its no different than any other proprietary app on Android

Except I don't like all the proprietary crud that my tablet came with, regardless of whether it's from Google or the manufacturer. It's doing god-knows-what in the background and its removal is well beyond the ability of the average user (which is the entire point, isn't it?).

So ol' "Don't Be Evil" is now "Don't Be More Evil Than Our Business Partners?"

The Plague (2)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 6 months ago | (#46254759)

Business is like a wretched plague that insists on infecting every area of life. Computing and communications are more vulnerable to the infestation than most other aspects of life. The net started as a wonderful idea that was to be a super breakthrough and uplifting idea never before possible for humanity. And I don't mind porn one bit but almost overnight half of the traffic on the net was porn. Worse than porn every half witted scheme to defraud people attached itself to the net and became fixated as a permanent part of the net. Next the net became a battleground as soon as organizations and governments found out that people really would communicate on the net. I do realize that some economic incentives are needed to cause better hardware and communications abilities using computers. But somehow that gets disgustingly translated into some supposed right to sell phony Viagra tablets, made in some fools kitchen to the masses. We really need to crack down on fraud and beat some of these "businesses" back to the stone ages.

Re:The Plague (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 months ago | (#46254837)

Without that 'plague' as you call it, you wouldn't be sitting here on slashdot complaining about it, as there would be no slashdot, no internet, no computers, no electricity...

Re:The Plague (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 6 months ago | (#46255921)

Without that 'plague' as you call it [business], you wouldn't be sitting here on slashdot complaining about it, as there would be no slashdot, no internet, no computers, no electricity...

Lets see. Slashdot was created as a personal blog, business only came later. The Internet was created by various public sector agencies. Computers were invented by government code breakers. And electricity is a natural phenomenon.

So no, that statement is false. For sure business took part later, as that's what businesses do in a capitalistic world - leech onto good ideas and make money out of them.

Re:The Plague (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 6 months ago | (#46255315)

Fraud isn't business.

Business in general has a tremendous upside and somewhat of a downside. You're just bitching about the negatives without deigning to mention any of the huge number of positives. Who made the computer you're writing this on, or the network that transmits your data? It wasn't ARPANET, that's for fucking sure.

Google Play Services (4, Interesting)

cseg (253752) | about 6 months ago | (#46254763)

Honestly, in my opinion the most offending point of Android is Google Play Services. Google making all its services depending on one another is something we've all been seeing for years now, one could argue that we're expecting and used to it. Now, a service at the center of it all, which can do anything it wants, whenever it wants, that's honestly going too far in my opinion.

That's point #1, actually.

#2 is the fact that for many people (myself included), the days of tinkering with devices is over. It can be a hobby sometimes/for some people, but I for one like to separate what I rely on from what I play with. So at best an Android device would be a toy, not something I rely on daily.

Now, if anyone can point me to a simple/reliable way to use Google's Android without Google Play Services owning the device, and without being forced to nurse custom/specific distros/ROMs for it, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Re:Google Play Services (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254859)

On the contrary: this generation of phones are some of the most tinkerable devices that have existed. Just because you have lost interest and/or ability to tinker with your device doesn't discredit the millions who still do.

That being said, the ROM you want is Cyanogenmod. Sure, you could replace all the google stuff yourself and put in your own features, but 99% of the time you will have a carbon copy of Cyanogenmod, it just took you weeks/months to make it instead of an hour to install it.

Re:Google Play Services (1)

cseg (253752) | about 6 months ago | (#46254917)

I did not discredit anyone or anything. I said that for many people, tinkering with devices is not an option (or ceased to be, like in my case).

Thanks for the suggestion, but like I said, I'm looking for a solution that does not involve nursing custom ROMs.

Re:Google Play Services (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 6 months ago | (#46255931)

but like I said, I'm looking for a solution that does not involve nursing custom ROMs.

Could you explain a little further exactly what it is you're hoping for, then?

Right now it seems like you're asking for Google's Android, which inherently means Google's Services and thus Google Play, etc. - but without exactly those things. At that point, it's not Google's Android anymore.

So let's say you meant regular ol' Android. Okay, that's fine too, go grab AOSP. But then that's really no different from a custom ROM when seen from the viewpoint of 'Google's Android'. It's just that it's a rather barren one.

So if you have to go with a ROM in the first place, Cyanogen is, once installed, fairly hands-off. Nobody's forcing you to delve into the nightly builds, say.

But maybe you just don't want to deal with having to look up, download, install, custom roms at all. Well, you could get any number of phones that have it or, just as an example, MIUI pre-installed - with OTA updates so you don't have to 'nurse' it. But then you'd have to get a different phone.

Seems to me that with your desires, you're going to either just have to live with the Google Play integration bits, or ignore the part where you wanted Android to begin with, and jump ship to iOS, Windows Phone, FireFox OS, Sailfish, etc.

Re:Google Play Services (1)

cseg (253752) | about 6 months ago | (#46256177)

but like I said, I'm looking for a solution that does not involve nursing custom ROMs.

Could you explain a little further exactly what it is you're hoping for, then?

Right now it seems like you're asking for Google's Android, which inherently means Google's Services and thus Google Play, etc. - but without exactly those things. At that point, it's not Google's Android anymore.

So let's say you meant regular ol' Android. Okay, that's fine too, go grab AOSP. But then that's really no different from a custom ROM when seen from the viewpoint of 'Google's Android'. It's just that it's a rather barren one.

So if you have to go with a ROM in the first place, Cyanogen is, once installed, fairly hands-off. Nobody's forcing you to delve into the nightly builds, say.

But maybe you just don't want to deal with having to look up, download, install, custom roms at all. Well, you could get any number of phones that have it or, just as an example, MIUI pre-installed - with OTA updates so you don't have to 'nurse' it. But then you'd have to get a different phone.

Seems to me that with your desires, you're going to either just have to live with the Google Play integration bits, or ignore the part where you wanted Android to begin with, and jump ship to iOS, Windows Phone, FireFox OS, Sailfish, etc.

I don't mind that Google requires you to have all-or-nothing. I do mind that through Google Play Services it is able to change a device at will. This is the old argument about the device being mine and not rented/borrowed from someone. What goes in and out of it should, at very least, have me warned about. Mind you, I'm not even the overly paranoid type regarding privacy, my main concern is the device becoming useless or simply malfunctioning due to a bad update that got to it without my authorization or even knowledge.

No person or company is immune from making that kind of mistake, and I have read about Google Play Services destroying battery life with bad updates, for example.

So to be to the point and answer your question: I didn't say I don't want the Google parts of Android. I just don't want one very specific part: Google Play Services' ability to do anything it wants with a device, including updating itself at will and granting itself permissions I don't even know about. Besides that, I'd need it (the preventing that from happening) to be done via some sort of configuration or app that you can install without needing to use a different/non-official ROM (rooting would be fine).

To elaborate more: Android devices tend to be cheaper than its counterparts, but lately (post Google moving most of Android into a closed-source model), that comes at a cost: You have to "bend over" to Google's will, or choose to use a different ROM and forego Google entirely (or at least for the greatest parts). I think that is very important to take into account when switching to Android (I'm not an user yet). Like I said, I'm not excited about keeping such a close eye on that kind of thing anymore (I used to be), I just want something I can rely on and not have this sort of headache from.

I'm asking this here because I have overhyper friends who bug the hell out of me to "join the movement" of switching to Android. I'd be okay with that if it did not mean either leaving the device to Google's will, OR being forced to use custom ROMs and going Google-free. By the way, another important point in that would be the loss of the Google Play Store. As far as I know, if you don't have Google Play Services, you don't have the store. And if you don't have the store, that is yet another hit in the price-for-the-bang tag on Android.

Please correct me if I'm getting any of this wrong.

my turn (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254781)

fuck beta

They're all the same (1)

ErnoWindt (301103) | about 6 months ago | (#46254795)

Google are to be admired for their energy and inventiveness. However, all big companies (and those who aspire to be big) all want the same thing: dominate the markets they are in, or take over everything they can. Google hides behind the fig leaf of "open source" when it suits their ends. If we compare Google to Apple, however, it's like comparing the US to North Korea.

Re:They're all the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254987)

And is recall, one of the big things cited in the anti-trust case against microsoft was an accusation that they kept undocumented APIs to Windows for themselves to gain a competitive advantage. I don't know if that was true or not, but it was used as fodder against them.

@see paragraph 4 -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Microsoft#Copyright_enforcement

proprietary services (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 months ago | (#46254819)

Suck. No matter who provides them.

Kindle is Google-free (2)

evilviper (135110) | about 6 months ago | (#46254827)

While Android phones are almost always tied-in to Google, cheap tablets most commonly are NOT, and they do just fine. The success of the Kindle Fire should be a sign that you can sever those Google ties without too much trauma.

You're not getting all that much from the fees paid to Google.

You can find other free maps and navigation easily enough (MapQuest, OsmAnd~, etc.).
You can find 3rd party YouTube apps, or you can just leave users to view YouTube in a web browser like desktop users do.
You can set-up Gmail access without the official Gmail app.
etc.

The biggest stumbling block is the app store. Google has market effects on their side. There are several competitor app stores, but none as complete as Google's. Still, as long as you have the most-popular apps, your customers won't complain. GetJar and Amazon are passable.

Fan boys will be fan boys (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254843)

Don't ever talk trash about Android or the fan boys will get butt hurt.

Re:Fan boys will be fan boys (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 6 months ago | (#46255019)

Problem is, it's not an 'all-bad' or 'all-good' issue. It's bad, because Google is obviously not open here, and have been making moves to keep things less open. It's good though, because a lot of their code IS open source. So each side has something to argue.

If you really want to troll the Android fanboys, point out that Apple is just as open, because their base OS is completely open [apple.com] .

Re:Fan boys will be fan boys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255205)

I'm pretty sure that even "base OS" of iOS 6 includes a bit more than WebKit, compiler tools, stdc++ lib and iconv [apple.com] .

</trolled>

Re:Fan boys will be fan boys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255067)

apple, google and samsung spent the better part of a decade to design the first versions of their products and another 7 years building from there
now some complain they can't build a phone in two days just by taking someone's work because its not enough

android might be far from open but google spent a lot of time and effort on it and deserves to be paid for their work

Re:Fan boys will be fan boys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255361)

I fucking hate Android. I hate coercive permissions, unclearable evercookies, "ecosystems" based on DRM, UI lag, pointless UI churn like changing the MCS-is-connected signal from green to blue to absent and removing notification sounds, notifications that are simultaneously spammy and missable, kowtowing to carriers with tethering restrictions and poor software maintenance, and all touchscreens everywhere in general.

But this isn't an either-or good-bad question, durr android good, android baa-aad. The topic is, is it open or not? Do you think I can hate Android and still defend Google for keeping it open in the relevant way? spoiler: I can.

The fact you can't rebuild exactly what's on your phone making one change because of blob drivers, missing build scripts, locked bootloaders, makes it not open for a user but still open for a device manufacturer. None of these things are an obstacle to making your own device, but they all trip up users. Only Nexus phones are open for a user, and they're only thoroughly open recently, and there's been a lot of fighting---jbq getting fired for publicly insulting the almighty Qualcomm---to keep that Nexus openness mostly-present. Other phones are forced open by the game-cracker script kiddies at Cyanogenmod and the like, but at the cost of glitches and of having to deal with script kiddies and their awful spazzy forums, so those are much less open than a Nexus phone or a normal Linux computer.

The way android source is thrown over the wall at each dessert release instead of released at HEAD like Chromium makes android less open than Chromium, but still open. This somewhat excludes developers, but Chromium sets a really high bar there. I don't have a problem with Android's doing this: less open, but difinitively _open_ and not a "grey area".

The way Honeycomb was released, technically, but without a tag in git so that nobody could find and build it, is shameful and cynical and suggests they don't get what open means. That might qualify as "grey area" in my book. Thankfully they have not repeated that bullshit for several releases, so my trust is mostly repaired on this issue.

but the OP _definitely_ doesn't get what open means. I came because I wanted the freedoms of Free Software: to control my own device, to share my changes with others, to fork the entire platform if it goes the wrong way. If I use AOSP, and I don't if I use Google's apps, that freedom is mine. How would I ever get this using Google's apps, since they have a cloud component? I don't get it using Google's Android Market, either, but the developers in that market are scumbags who like it closed. The only exception to this is Chrome for Android, which doesn't have a cloud component and doesn't come with source. TFA should call that out, but doesn't, because he doesn't actually care about openness in the sense of freedom, just about grabbing more ecosystem power for device manufacturers, and they do not deserve it: every inch of power they've grabbed so far, they've abused, to push more _closed source_ adware onto the phone, to fork Android and not release their changes, and...

The real threat to android openness is device manufacturers with locked bootloaders, blob drivers, and missing build scripts.

Also, since changes aren't upstreamed in the world of "devices", it's arguably a threat to openness that they don't maintain their software for the life of the device (end-of-sale + 2 years)---although Stallman's principles don't demand that they do that, in practice I get more openness with an i386 Linux box where board support stuff is upstreamed because I can keep up with the patches others are sharing with me, while with a "device" I'm trapped in an obscure manufacturer ghetto, so once Linux's HEAD moves on, I've less ability to take the free software others are trying to share with me.

If Google uses their closed apps to force more software maintenance, the manufacturers will whinge "grey area" and "less open" because they don't like having their consumer-hostile will thwarted, but the user will experience a more open platform since AOSP at HEAD will run on his device for a reasonable lifetime.

It's not impressive to me that hardware manufacturers get this huge gift for free and then try to claw for more power when they've already proved themselves undeserving of it and deeply disrespectful of free software, disrespectful objectively, and disrespectful compared to Google.

Lack of Understanding of Open Source (4, Insightful)

Luthair (847766) | about 6 months ago | (#46254849)

Its almost like there is a concerted campaign this month against Android openness - or are journalists seeing buzz around earlier stories and creating more link bait? I think this article and the others all demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the open source world.

There is more than one model, while there are entirely open projects like the Linux kernel, there are also a great many projects with both open and proprietary components. See MySQL, JBoss, Glassfish, Solaris, ExtJS, Nexus, etc., all of these projects are completely functional products but the companies provide additional functionality for profit.

Android code is available under an OSI license, the code comprises a complete functional product (assuming device drivers, but that isn't Google's responsibility). The Open Source world is driven by contributing back, not by getting everything on a silver platter for free.

Re:Lack of Understanding of Open Source (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255073)

Not complete, without google's services it is no better than the bare windows kernel on a phone, you can't use it for anything. Read the article on Ars.

Re:Lack of Understanding of Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255179)

That's just blatently wrong. AOSP is a fully-functional operating system.

Re: Lack of Understanding of Open Source (1, Flamebait)

cecom (698048) | about 6 months ago | (#46255241)

Pfffft. Who cares? Let's all hate Google. How dare a for profit company not give out everything for free? Those greedy bastards!

Oh, and Google stole all my personal information by showing me ads when I used the services they provide for free in exchange for showing ads. Google's evilness knows no boundaries!

Re:Lack of Understanding of Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255249)

Ssshh. You were told to read the article, you dummy, not to try and comprehend it and in circumstances get the real world involved.

Otherwise you might notice all the things like CyanogenMod or OEMs that didn't want to sign Google's agreement and keep producing Googleless phones and tablets.

Re:Lack of Understanding of Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255293)

Its almost like there is a concerted campaign this month against Android openness - or are journalists seeing buzz around earlier stories and creating more link bait? I think this article and the others all demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the open source world.

Nah, it's you who do not understand.
Slowly people are starting to realize how the promise of Free Software, with its almost human rights connotations, has been hijacked and usurped by the "Open Source" people.

Now one of the many consequences is that smart people at Google have figured out how to exploit the gullible techs like us to get technology for free, and at the same time control it and use it to destroy the competition and kill innovation outside of its control.

It is not the only place where Open Source has become the parody of itself, it is all across the industry.
Is it better than the pure proprietary world? Sure. Are we heading to a level playing field in software? Not by a long shot. The rules of the game have changed, but the underlying problems remain the same.

Just ignore me though, I am just a disillusioned "Open Source" developer who just woke up (grew up?) and an Anonymous Coward as well.

Cheers

Anonymous Coward

Google closes open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254949)

In my opinion Google takes advantage of open source and makes it much more closed then open. Take Chrome OS and their Chromebook hardware. Nothing open about Chromebooks as they simply don't allow for anything outside of what Google wants. No choice in browsers, no iTunes, no Microsoft Office and no Skype.
All of these programs are directly competing with Google apps and surprise, surprise. Google does not allow any of them. Now I know Linux versions do not have any of these programs running either. But you are free to use alternatives which the choices are many. Android and Chrome OS are two different animals. Android started out being a smartphone platform which it made sense to have a app store and very controlled ways of installing apps. Chrome OS is simply just a propagation tool for Google and their ecosystem. Nothing worse then a giant like Google using the backs of open source to expand their closed system. Has anyone even read the new
EULA with Android development? Its all about Google.

Re:Google closes open source (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46255261)

I have 4 different browsers installed on my android device (no root). Tell me again how many browsers you can install on IOS (no root)

Re:Google closes open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255389)

Wells lets see, I've used Chrome, Dolphin, Mercury, iCab and Opera. There are tons more than I have never tried and all downloadable from the App Store.

Re:Google closes open source (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46255417)

well now I feel stupid, I was under the impression that IOS still did not allow other browsers in the app store

Re:Google closes open source (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255531)

Well, technically, they're as much of a browser as MyIE/Maxthon were - custom shells around built-in WebKit.

Apple doesn't allow anything that remotely looks like interpreting code that's not packaged with the app or typed by user, even up to rejecting games that let you download user-generated levels. Custom HTML renderers and JS engines are right out.

Re:Google closes open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46256229)

Opera Mini on the phone is not webkit based, but it's the only one I believe.

Google Apps is bloatware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46254973)

Biggest bloat in my CM10.2 Galaxy S is all those Google services (backup specially) which hog all the memory. But I have to install Google's Play Store to test development apps. Ugh!

I guess the "Android fragmentation" FUD failed (4, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | about 6 months ago | (#46255003)

Only a little time ago, there was lots of "OMG Android is becoming fragmented" stories. Now the stories are essentially the opposite: that device makers are closely tied into what Google does.

Is there someone behind this? Or am I seeing consipiracies where there are none?

Re:I guess the "Android fragmentation" FUD failed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255343)

It was more open, Google freaked out about fragmentation and tightened the noose. I

Shades of Openness? (1)

smack.addict (116174) | about 6 months ago | (#46255027)

If you destroy the value of something the minute you fork it, it isn't open. Period.

SaaS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255115)

Biggest enemy of Open Source Software there is.

Open (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255237)

Sure the base platform is open, but none of the higher level stuff that an end user would need. By this definition OS X is open, since it runs on FreeBSD. Open for Google is just a marketing term.

buck feta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46255519)

That is all.

google.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46256109)

cares about profits, about keeping competitors at bay, and about share price and shareholder value.. they could care less about openness or open source, unless it can be abused or exploited to make money... and even then they'll strangle whatever it is with all their corporate might to contain and control.

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