If you’ve been keeping up with all the Android happenings as of late, I’m sure you’ve come across your fair share of editorials regarding the impending doom of Google’s once open Android OS. I can tell you, from my experience alone, I was beginning to have my doubts. After reading numerous articles on Google holding Honeycomb captive, to Google ending custom UI’s, I wasn’t sure exactly where Android was headed.
Calm your restless hearts, Android faithful. Andy Rubin has heard your cries and is here to “set the record straight.”
Trust us. This is one speech you’re going to want to read all the way through. And if you’re name is Steve, last name Jobs, you might want to sit down before reading this:
[This post is by Andy Rubin, VP of Engineering —Tim Bray]
Recently, there’s been a lot of misinformation in the press about Android and Google’s role in supporting the ecosystem. I’m writing in the spirit of transparency and in an attempt to set the record straight. The Android community has grown tremendously since the launch of the first Android device in October 2008, but throughout we’ve remained committed to fostering the development of an open platform for the mobile industry and beyond.
We don’t believe in a “one size fits all” solution. The Android platform has already spurred the development of hundreds of different types of devices – many of which were not originally contemplated when the platform was first created. What amazes me is that the even though the quantity and breadth of Android products being built has grown tremendously, it’s clear that quality and consistency continue to be top priorities. Miraculously, we are seeing the platform take on new use cases, features and form factors as it’s being introduced in new categories and regions while still remaining consistent and compatible for third party applications.
As always, device makers are free to modify Android to customize any range of features for Android devices. This enables device makers to support the unique and differentiating functionality of their products. If someone wishes to market a device as Android-compatible or include Google applications on the device, we do require the device to conform with some basic compatibility requirements. (After all, it would not be realistic to expect Google applications – or any applications for that matter – to operate flawlessly across incompatible devices). Our “anti-fragmentation” program has been in place since Android 1.0 and remains a priority for us to provide a great user experience for consumers and a consistent platform for developers. In fact, all of the founding members of the Open Handset Alliance agreed not to fragment Android when we first announced it in 2007. Our approach remains unchanged: there are no lock-downs or restrictions against customizing UIs. There are not, and never have been, any efforts to standardize the platform on any single chipset architecture.
Finally, we continue to be an open source platform and will continue releasing source code when it is ready. As I write this the Android team is still hard at work to bring all the new Honeycomb features to phones. As soon as this work is completed, we’ll publish the code. This temporary delay does not represent a change in strategy. We remain firmly committed to providing Android as an open source platform across many device types.
The volume and variety of Android devices in the market continues to exceed even our most optimistic expectations. We will continue to work toward an open and healthy ecosystem because we truly believe this is best for the industry and best for consumers.
THAT. JUST. HAPPENED. I apologize for my excitement but in a flying roundkick to the face, Andy Rubin has put an end to all the naysayers, critics and conspiracy theorists. How about you? Do you believe, Mr. Rubins or do you feel like he and Google may be trying to cover up something more sinister about their beloved green robot?
WOO! Honeycomb on my GTablet now probably!
ohh just shut it with the fragmentation.. every OS has fragmentation get over it.
Oh smack, that just happened!
Shake and bake!
I trust google and android… live the love
Who didn’t enjoy seeing that develop? Wow, that’s a tech moment.
What ever phone Andy Rubin uses, I use. That’s the way it’s been since November 2008 for me, Android FTW.
what phone would that be?
Started with the G1 then Google Ion then Nexus One and now the Nexus S.
Dont flatter yourself jdog. I doubt Andy is using anything stock you can buy off the shelf at your local best buy. good try though!
I see what you mean but how many times must he pull out *insert phone* and say this the phone I’m using over the course of many months? Mostly you don’t see him with another phone until about 2 months before it’s going to be released. For about 2 to 3 months out of the year, you are 100% correct. I like the real version of Android so like I said if it is good enough for Andy Rubin then it is good enough for me. When he pulls out a new phone then I will be waiting to hear about that phone’s release date.
Wow….and you guys accuse Apple fans of kissing Steve Job’s ass…..
True but we have options, 170 to be exact. You also have options, white or
I think I am going to adopt that policy from now on too!
Gee, he really “smacked down critics.”
Oh wait, he just said that OEMs are welcome to shit up Android with their garbage skins.
And you’re welcome to put on your own skins. The wonder of open android…
No you are not. OEM devices are locked down and you void your warranty if you root to put on your own skin/ROM, thus you are NOT welcome to put on your own skin. . . the wonder of open Android is only for OEMs. . . not users.
well then.. why hold the android team guilty? Hold the OEMs guilty for that choice. Android DOES provide the ability to skin and personalize freely. OEMs don’t.
All the doomsday reports were totally idiotic, a gimmick to get more readers on sites etc., nothing else.
Damn it. I wanted Google to lay the smackdown. Oh well.
Aww hell I guess that means no Galaxy Tabs for me….sin e Samsung has the green light to touchwiz them up…maybe I will stick with the Xoom unless they announce a nexus tablet
Smackdown? Looks like corporate speak to me. :S Talk is one thing, let’s see what actually happens.
Agree. I wanna see Rubin put his money where his mouth is! =)
Personally I like custom UIs…for those of you who don’t, simple solution: Don’t buy a device with a custom UI…duh. There will, without a doubt, be plenty of devices rocking vanilla Android in the future, and if one that has a UI installed that you don’t like there’s always rooting to bring you that stock android experience. Personally I don’t get why people complain about fragmentation and custom UIs and yet they want an open OS.
…if google were to force stock Android as the standard, that wouldn’t be very open now would it?
“Personally I like custom UIs…for those of you who don’t, simple solution: Don’t buy a device with a custom UI…duh.”
Not so fast: There are a lot of people in this country who don’t live in areas where T-Mobile’s network is any good. (Myself included.) The Nexus devices so far have launched only on T-Mobile, though they come to other carries much later. And the Nexus phones are the only ones without a custom UI. So, in many cases, unless the user wants to move to a carrier with spotty service, they have no choice but to buy a phone with a custom UI.
That sound like a carrier problem and not Google. Just maybe they should think of carrying a stock device. T-Mobile work fine in my city; I had the G1 and now the N1, brought my girl NS and I’m about to get the G2x which will be another stock device for T-Mobile.
Not entirely true.. the LG Optimus phones are vanilla Android.
But, I totally agree that there is very little choice when it comes to phones with vanilla Android on them.
Not so fast, not so fast: True there are few devices on most carriers that run stock android, but my comment was directed more towards future purchases. The original Droid is still a very competent device and it runs on stock. The Verizon version of the Xperia Play is supposed to launch with stock android. The issue currently is that most carriers lack higher end devices that run on vanilla.
Personally I think that it would be great if android had an option to switch between the custom UIs supplied by the manufactures of the handsets and the stock android experience that Google offers. For instance I actually enjoy HTC’s sense UI, but I’m not a fan of Moto Blur, which is featured on the Bionic that I’m considering upgrading to. Being able to switch of Blur would be nice, but at the same time if I were on an HTC device I wouldn’t want to abandon that interface entirely.
Rooting voids your warranty and average users will brick their device trying to root. Please stop telling people to Root to solve all problems. It’s just not acceptable to void the warranty on a $500+ device.
There really aren’t many devices running stock Android that are supported by Google to get updates asap. . . What? Nexus One, Nexus S, Xoom, and?
Let’s all be very clear. Any OEM device with Android is as proprietary and locked down as any iOS device when it comes to the end user. Android is only open for OEMs to do with as they please on their devices–just because they open source the project means nothing for end users.
So, unless you can manufacture up some devices. . . then you are SOL or just throw away a few hundred bucks if your device dies after you rooted it.
You wanna try and justify complaining about custom UIs and fragmentation be my guest but news flash…neither of them are going away any time soon if at all, so complaining is just going to turn ya’ll into annoying whiners.
If you don’t like it, offer a constructive solution. Otherwise shut yer yap and wait patiently for the devices that have vanilla android. Or take a chance and root. I never said there wasn’t a risk involved with rooting but you cannot deny the fact that it would solve the issue of being stuck with a custom UI. Plenty of ROMs out there sporting stock android.
Well dickwad, read the comments and you will see that I did offer a constructive solution that Google and OEMs can easily implement.. . . way to be a tool before opening your eyes and flapping your trap.
Name calling isn’t going to convince me of anything except that you’re a bit immature. I hold to my views and though I respect your differing opinions I disagree with them, I’ll leave it at that.
And since you were so quick to be rude, I’ll point out that your “solutions” were vague at best, in fact from what I read you were just stating the obvious.
I’m considering the matter closed, you can have the last word if you like…though I wouldn’t expect a reply if you decide to use any more “colorful” language.
EDIT: This will most certainly be my last reply here…as we appear to be having a much more agreeable conversation farther down on the page.
…despite the fact that I’m not to pleased with being called a dick-tool, I still think you deserve props for the excellent plan outlined below, however we’re both limited to wishful thinking at this point.
You are referring to your comments further down the page, which I agree with and support…I’m referring to the vagueness that I replied to above. Being short with me and calling me names isn’t going to have the desired effect on my opinions of the above comment, or of you. To that end I would be more than happy to continue the pleasant conversation with the level headed Proprietary_Android below…not the short tempered Proprietary_Android above.
…and don’t take my comments here to much to heart, I’m not trying to insight anger. Just state my views on the matter.
SmackDown? Are you 12 years old?
Well, it would be nice if Google said custom UI’s are fine, but they should be removable, and ideally available in the Market (only for intended hardware). The benefit would be quicker OS upgrades, rather than having to wait many months for the OEM’s to decide if they are going to support the latest OS. In this way, it would become more modular. I am personally a fan of SenseUI, although not a fan of the delays, although, I have to credit HTC, they are one of the better manufacturers to provide releases, and to comment on version upgrade plans, which is admirable (but still not fast enough for my liking).
Sure, but then it wouldn’t be open, would it?
May be not but I think there are a lot of people who are tired of buying phones only to find out the manufacturers are not going skip over specific Android OS versions. Or worse, they refuse to upgrade it any further. Yes, you can root and put a stock or custom ROM on but manufacturers are starting to lock down phones to make rooting harder. If manufacturers can’t release timely Android OS updates then please don’t stop the home brew community from doing their job for them. If manufacturers shut these people out then they’re only hurting their own sales.
The average Joe on the street (A.K.A. the majority of Android users) has no idea what version of Android is on their phone, or that a newer version is available. They just want their phones to work, which they do. The release of a new OS version doesn’t make their phone old or obsolete.
They’ll notice when they can’t run an app in the market because it requires a higher version than they have.
It would be a lot more open for the end user than it is now. Right now Android is really only “open” for OEMs to do as they please then they lock it down and you void the warranty to make any real changes. . . that’s BS.
I think sense UI/HTC should partner up with Google and make it standard. But I think they’ll keep it open and up to the manufacturer. Which is fine with me, being an avid HTC person and I do like HTC and know they are the best get sick of sense and could go for some plain Android.
Why would HTC want to do that? Sense is basically their USP.
Nice, I think they really needed to come out and set things straight because the trollery was getting a little nauseating.
Sorry but I’m not drinking the kool-aid on this.
Saying “anti fragmentation clauses have been in sense 1.0” means squat when you watch manufacturers sit on updates because there’s no profit in it. Who’s released GB aside form Google again? Yeah …
Then there’s the crummy DRM problems android is starting to have which look like little more than corporate posturing for money. Whats the good reason for a Xoom not being able to play netflix? My phone? Yeah …
We haven’t even touched that android’s UI is terrible … and yet continues to get neglected by google with every .x update ..
The open source utopian drug has worn off on me … I want to see real change in this “open market”. _ALL_ updates or all phones should stream right from Google … just as MS pushes all patches themselves. UI slop needs to get polished up … better 3-way calling, flippin harware acceleration already … why am I running a phone with more horsepower than my old desktop PCs yet it’s still jumpy?
Why did my Xoom ship completely incapable of doing anything more than my phone? It’s a tablet … it should bridge the gap of handheld and PC … yet it can connect to samba shares, nfs …. or anything really. It’s a phone with a bigger screen and a pretty UI.
Google’s idealistic rants are wonderful …. but at some point their stuff has to actually work.
So you’re unhappy that your phone can do all these things that your tablet can do? Because most of the competitor’s tablet OSs can’t really do any of those things you mentioned…
Not really buying the UI argument. Just change it to something you like. It doesn’t have to be a grid of icons, and it is not hard to do. It is really handy to have live and changing information right there on the homescreen if you want it. Expect Apple to start following Google on this with the next iPhone. Interesting news on using the market to push modular updates as well – this should be a much more flexible way of keeping the OS up to date. You won’t need to wait for major updates to get key bug fixes and UI updates.
@ Pip… Agree with you 100%. He mentions the UI is neglected yet references the XOOM which is honeycomb as “phone… pretty UI”
The same DRM that your computer uses to play Hulu content is also on Android. Hulu doesn’t have the licensing to let you watch it. Netflix is lazy. That’s all to that one.
You DID buy AND drink the kool aid by purchasing a tablet that can’t do anymore than what your phone can do! that’s beyond me! Gotta love blind consumerism….it makes the world go round!
The “openness” of Android really only pertains to OEMs. . . as users we get locked down proprietary versions of Android that are just as locked down as iOS, and Google isn’t doing anything to ensure that end users can have some choice in the matter–no stock Android version required for the device for you to switch to, no insistence that users should be able to flash a different ROM without voiding the warranty, no instance of making enhancements something that can be disabled by the user. . . in other words, you the end user get no “openness” and no real choice when buying an OEM “Android” device.
Now this is something I can agree with. I know it doesn’t count for much but I’d just like to say I appreciate that you are pointing out the things that need to be done to solve the problem, instead of just mentioning how much you wish custom UIs didn’t exist or talking up a storm about fragmentation.
Kudos to you good sir.
Thank you, much appreciated. I’ve posted several long comments on other discussions about his same topic.
After understanding what OEMs need–they need to be able to add proprietary software to Android especially for business–and what users want (choice) the only viable solution I’ve come up with is having OEMs produce an optimized stock Android that is then given to Google for them to maintain. It’s then added to the market and any user with that device can switch to the optimized stock Android via the market without voiding their warranty–this is a “safe” switch for users and OEMs. Or the user can stick with the “proprietary Android” from the OEM and enjoy the added “enhancements” provided by that OEM.
This way the user gets a choice and OEMs can customize all they want.
The only thing I see problematic with this is, I don’t believe Google wants to support many devices. I think they really only want to support their one device. Thus, looking at it that way I’ve got to question Google’s true commitment to the end users and the user experience in general. It seems their main goal is to get more OEMs on board than to give a great user experience to the end user as well.
I personally think this “plan” would add a much needed value to Android and it would be truly “open” to everyone, OEMs and users.
That would be a dream come true. Though I’m afraid that I believe in what you said last…that currently Google is more interested in gaining a larger “user base” for their system. I wouldn’t say they are focused only on android devices they support directly (nexus one, nexus S, etc) but the stock android platform itself. Personally I would rather they do this than try and focus on all the various different OEM versions at once…we may loose a bit of innovation if they did that. However I do hope that one day the present a solution such as the one you’ve outlined…or perhaps (and I think I stated this somewhere else as well) they could add a core functionality to the base android that allows OEMs to add the ability to turn off their custom UIs if their customers so choose. Perhaps even allow for the stock experience and the UI created by the third parties to be updated separately…leaving bug fixes to android itself independent of the UI, allowing for the core functionality of new versions of android to be added to devices with custom interfaces, while the manufactures of the aforementioned interfaces update those UIs at their leisure.
At this point it seems all like pipe dreams…a little unsettling, but I don’t think that Android will suffer much for what is happening now provided that the developers create a solid plan for the future, once they have all their marbles in order so to speak.
Worst case scenario we’ll all end up with devices the likeness of iPhones. :P (<- I kid, I kid)
“they could add a core functionality to the base android that allows OEMs to add the ability to turn off their custom UIs if their customers so choose.”
I believe that this is already possible. I think one of the Viewsonic tablets did something like this–they had their UI and you just hit a plus sign on the app dock and it would switch you back to stock Android. From what I understand about Android this is basically how it was designed to work. The problem is that OEMs like HTC, MOTO, and Samsung integrate their changes into Android at a much deeper level than the UI. . . maybe that’s what Google is finally cracking down on because changes to the UI should not stop Google from pushing bug updates to the core OS. . . at least if Google was checking those against the kernels being released by others.
As you say, it probably is more of a pipe dream at this point, thus I probably will be holding off on many Android purchases till I see what Google really does with the more stringent anti-fragmentation guidelines. If things continue like they are and we are left with “Android iOS” devices from OEMs I probably will end up back with MS if they put something decent out. As an end user the “open source” thing just doesn’t mean anything when the device you purchase doesn’t allow you to take advantage of it. On a pc I can slap any Linux distro on without voiding the warranty–that’s the pisser here. I personally think it’s flat out wrong that the warranty on a device is voided if you flash a different ROM. . . that’s really no different than installing a clean install of an OS on your PC. . . it’s just bull.
OH well. . .
BTW. . . I did post a long explanation a while back on this thread outlining what I just wrote to you about an optimized stock Android option but I’ll be damned. . . it isn’t showing in the comments.
You may want to read this post
The “insider” says that rooting will soon be extinct except for using the “Google device” (nexus) because the carriers, OEMs, and Google are all working on blocking the exploit and tracking it. . . which may result in carriers blocking rooted devices.
” I personally think it’s flat out wrong that the warranty on a device is voided if you flash a different ROM. . . that’s really no different than installing a clean install of an OS on your PC. . . it’s just bull.”
Wouldn’t let me add a new reply >.< Anyway, that would make sense what you said about OEMs like Samsung, HTC, and Moto digging deeper into the OS with their UIs, because otherwise it would just be another launcher app…kinda like the Xperia Arc launcher that was released a while back…though I think Sony is guilty of custom UIs on the deep level as well.
I whole heartedly agree that warranties should not be voided for flashing a custom rom…though, I think that it doesn't void one's warranty to flash a custom rom, it's the fact that one has to root their device in order to do so…which I can understand would void a warranty due to the risks involved with rooting.
However even so, if companies would develop technical support that would allow rooting (highly unlikely because of devices that can be bricked beyond repair) that would be a huge step towards true openness of the android platform…they'd still need to take care of the other issues as well. Unfortunately from the article you linked me to seems to state otherwise. And I'm inclined to believe it…seeing as many OEMs are locking down their bootloaders n'such.
I’m all for the diversity of handsets – not everybody needs/wants/can afford/cares about the highest-spec phone available. What I have said for quite awhile, and still firmly believe is that in the spirit of “openness” any and all carriers(which is pretty much everybody) who wish to carry Android handsets in their lineups should be
required to have a Nexus phone available as well for those of us who don’t like encrypted bootloaders and bloatware built in to their devices.
Exactly, Google need to require a “stock Android” for each device released and then maintain it. The end user can switch to if via the market without voiding their warranty or leave the proprietary Android version on their device. At least then we would have a choice, but I honestly think Google doesn’t want to deal with updating any more devices than their one device per year.
Consistent for developers? Is that why the media stack breaks aac streaming with every minor release? Because its consistent?
If you do NOT allow companies to do their “thing” to their particular android devices, you MIGHT as well call yourself APPLE!!!!! Let a company make crap,and hey, a novel idea here, DON’T BUY IT! Do you NOT do research before you purchase? People who bitch and moan about their phones need to suck it. Ya fucked up, put on your big girl pants and get back in there. You’ll get’em next time. I think we are all smart enough to know when a product is crap. Seriously tired of the self professed geeks who turn around and WHINE over products!
I have, and always will have faith in the G. I do my research, do you?
I couldn’t agree more, that’s exactly what i like about android is the freedom of choice. That’s why i won’t buy anything that isn’t stock, i don’t want to promote custom ui’s and locked bootloaders.
Instead of talking I would have enjoyed the speculation and the anticipation of Andy and Google to have done the unveiling of Honeycomb’s source code at Google IO. Sometimes keeping your mouth shut and loading and releasing when your competition least expected is a better strategy than talking without context.
And sometimes it’s better to speak up and end the speculation than to release bad, unfinished code.
Sony and HTC have just release Gingerbread devices. I played with an Xperia Play, an Arc and a Desire S just the other day. Check your facts before ranting.
There is a REPLY button…try it.
you are a douche
Regarding fragmentation. We’re all blaming Google or the manufacturers for it, but the way I see it, the fault lies with the carriers. Technology evolves at high speeds, and right now, phone tech is out pacing them all. The by-and-large majority of us are stuck on two year contracts. By the time even 1 year is up, many phones could be classified as legacy hardware. The amount of support we do get (from Google and the manufacturers, not to mention the independent devs), quite frankly, is impressive.
I hate to sound like an old fart at a mere 23 years of age, but I’ve been in the smartphone/PDA game for quite a while, it feels like. First with a WinMo 5 Dell Axim PDA, then to a WinMo 6/6.1 HTC Touch XV6900, and now my HTC Droid Incredible. Back in the day, you were lucky to ever get an update period, much less 2 or 3 OS upgrades for FREE. When WinMo went from 5 to 6, I had to buy it. 6 to 6.1 I lucked out with a replacement phone and got the upgrade for free. Verizon rarely nerfs features like the used to. In my Touch, the firmware killed the GPS chip. Why? I still have no idea.
The point is, though, that we have to accept that our phones are remarkably well supported as is. There comes a point when we stop getting updates. Blame the manufacturers (coughSamsungcough) that intentionally screw their customers. Blame the carriers that force you to keep your hardware so long that it becomes archaic. But honestly, I feel like Google has done a good job preventing fragmentation on their end. When they put out a phone, it has the latest OS version. The source code is released and manufacturers do what they will. Basically, recognize where the problem actually lies and flame it instead of Google lol.
Seriously, that’s not true. It’s the customers fault.
By Nexus phones if you want to fight fragmentation.
I know what you mean but if only the Nexus phones were as appealing as some of the other phones available. The hardware spec of the Samsung Galaxy S2 blows the Nexus S out of the water. I would much prefer to get the better SGS2, root and load custom ROMs with the newest Android OS than to go with the current Nexus S phone. May be if there was a new Nexus phone with equivalent spec to the SGS2 then I would be tempted.
I mentioned this before, but what about those who want to use vanilla Android, but don’t want to move to T-Mobile (the launch partner for Nexus One/S) to get it?
It’s very difficult to fight fragmentation or get the true Google Experience when there’s only one Google Phone on one carrier. (Yes, I know Nexus S is coming to Sprint and AT&T someday. Unless Sprint changes their mind like they did with the Nexus One.)
Or don’t if you want something other than the start-of-the-generation base
model. Don’t get me wrong, the Nexus phones aren’t bad….but they aren’t
great either. Other models have unique features our designs, and are
preferable to most people.
If you get your devices on contracts, you get what you deserve.
That’s not really an opton for most people. Buying off contract for a
powerful phone can easily run $500-600. That’s not the kind of money most
people have to just throw around.
What is that you can do whatever you want, but dont expect Android market or Gmail if you make garbage.
Andy’s the man. I bought my evo with the intention of just making phone calls surfing the web. And ended up gaining root flashing roms kernels, customizing fonts and bootscreens. Android needs to remain open source, or it will die. Thanks for keeping us updated. I think android fans need to just chill and be patient. As long as developers can freely work on these systems their gonna remain on top just blowing out I phones and blackberries and windows phones. I may have spoiled myself with jumping into an evo right away but I’m a fan for life, and at least I took the time to learn about my device I hope others do the same.
I kinda figured most of this stuff was FUD. You have a lot of folk out there worried about the success of Android.
Can you smellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll what the g-man’s cookin?
I believe he’s speaking honestly on behalf of Android. I too enjoy the freeness of android. I look forward to continue purchasing android devices.
I’m bummed HC is still locked up. “the Android team is still hard at work to bring all the new Honeycomb features to phones” translates to: “we are working on Ice Cream” which means they will NOT be releasing Honeycomb to the AOSP. This means weeks or months of delay for most of us wanting to buy or hack an Android tablet.
My Nook color gathers dust waiting…
Cm7 with hc tweaks is legit. But yeah it sucks…
People who hate on android simply don’t understand what they’re missing. Android is the exact equivalent to a pc to me. Some are given a chance to operate it and only use it for it’s most basic functions. But when you root it, load it with media, customize it, and really make it your own, you get the best mobile experience there is. I won’t ever leave that green robot. Am I the only one who respects the iphone for being the greatest selling smartphone ever but still would never get one?
Excellent article, bro!
Steve Jobs is a piece of shit, he can take his ipad and fuck himself with it.