Feeds

Google frees Android from code of secrecy

Closed open platform now open

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

When Google calls Android an open mobile platform, it's no longer stretching the truth.

This morning, a day before the debut of the inaugural Android phone, the world's largest ad broker finally released the platform's source code to world+dog. "Today is a big day for Android, the Open Handset Alliance, and the open-source community," reads a blog post from software engineer Dave Bort. "All of the work that we've poured into the mobile platform is now officially available, for free, as the Android Open Source Project."

The project has its very own website, and you can visit it here.

Teaming up with a cavalcade of mobile industry players - including Qualcomm, Motorola, HTC, and Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile) - Google first announced its open platform in November of last year, but chose to keep it closed, privately developing Android without input from the open source community at large.

This riled many old school open source types, including David "Lefty" Schlesinger, who was booted from the official Android discussion group for questioning the platform's open sourciness.

"They want to maintain a facade of being non-evil open source guys," Lefty told The Reg at the time. "But they really want to retain very tight control over this. They're being proprietary while maintaining an appearance of open source."

Answering questions at a Google developer conference that same week, Android product manager Andy Rubin told The Reg that many open source projects start out closed and that his closed open platform would one day be open.

And now it is. Google has opened it up under an Apache license, which allows anyone to use, modify, and redistribute code - even if they don't give back to the community.

The ad broker bills Android not as a Linux-based mobile operating system, but as a "mobile stack" giving you everything you need to build a phone. "It's a complete, end-to-end software platform that can be adapted to work on any number of hardware configurations. Everything is there, from the bootloader all the way up to the applications," Bort writes.

"Interested in working on a speech-recognition library? Looking to do some research on virtual machines? Need an out-of-the-box embedded Linux solution? All of these pieces are available, right now, as part of the Android Open Source Project, along with graphics libraries, media codecs, and some of the best development tools I've ever worked with."

We'll let you judge that last bit for yourself. And it's unclear whether Google has kept portions of the platform out of the code release. Speaking to The Reg in May, Rubin said that code related to "certain Google services" would remain closed. But more on that later.

The first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1, hits stores tomorrow. It lacks PC syncing, Exchange support, a headphone jack, and stereo Bluetooth. But it's ugly enough to give you a good chuckle. ®

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.