Feeds

Open sourcers strike back at Google cease-and-desist

Android without the Google

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Three days after Google told an independent developer to stop bundling proprietary applications with his alternative Android operating system, fans of the popular package have shot back with plans to work around the move.

The developer, who goes by the name Cyanogen, said here that he plans to overhaul his CyanogenMod platform so it no longer includes GTalk, YouTube, and other Google-supplied apps that are widely regarded as essential to any Android OS. But in a clever work-around, he will include software with his bare-bones offering that will allow users to install those closed-source programs without molesting Google's copyrights.

"In order to get our beloved Google sync and applications back, you'll need to make a backup first," the developer, whose real name is Steve Kondik, wrote. "The idea is that you'll be able to Google-ify your CyanogenMod installation, with the applications and files that shipped on YOUR device already."

Kondik didn't respond to a request to comment for this article, but his thinking seems to be that since it's legal for Android owners to make backups of the apps they legally acquired, there can be no prohibition against them installing those programs on top of the alternative Android OS. He's working on software that will do just that, he writes.

With more than 30,000 active installations, CyanogenMod has proved to be popular with Android enthusiasts. They like the availability of features such "multitouch," which comes standard on smartphones such as Apple's iPhone, but that still aren't included with Android. They also say CyanogenMod is sometimes weeks ahead Google in fixing bugs and swear the alternative OS is more stable too.

But without the basics such as Android Market, Maps, and GTalk, they say any alternative OS is hopelessly neutered. Late last week, when Google's legal demands were first reported, Kondik warned he would be forced to withdraw CyanogenMod altogether. He published his plan to work around using backups on Sunday.

Cyanogen's announcement came as a separate group of open-source developers said they planned to create an Android alternative that includes their own versions of the closed-source apps that Google is forbidding Kondik from redistributing. Dubbed the Open Android Alliance, the project plans to write or borrow open-source clones of those apps that are built from the ground up so that Google has no legal claim over any of the code.

"We're trying to make the Android it should have been in the first place, completely free, open source [so that] anyone can use whatever, because we're not keeping applications to ourselves," said Jared Rusch, a 19-year-old college student in Saskatoon, Canada, studying web development said of the outfit. "We believe Android is a good platform to build upon and who knows, maybe we can make something better than it originally was."

Rusch and other project members say an alpha should be available anywhere from two weeks to two months from now. While Kondik isn't directly involved in the Open Android Alliance, he has agreed to make his code available as the foundation to the project, said Cody Davey, another team member.

While Google has long promoted Android as an open platform that anyone can use, it considers many of the applications that run on top of it proprietary property that can't be distributed by third parties. Google has yet to explain its rationale. One likely reason is that the Mountain View, California-based company uses the apps as incentives to get phone carriers to offer Android phones in the first place.

Google representatives didn't respond to a request for comment for this article.

The prohibition has struck many Android enthusiasts as distinctly "un-Googly" since it threatens to strip essential capabilities, including the ability to sync, from all alternative OSes. And that has caused some to question the value of the platform being open source in the first place.

Said Davey: "We as a community have come together with a common goal of making Android open [as] it was first advertised." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins
Redmond thinks the Object Real-Time Communications API for WebRTC is ready to roll
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8
Moz man claims the win on rivals' own benchmarks
Yes, Virginia, there IS a W3C HTML5 standard – as of now, that is
You asked for it! You begged for it! Then you gave up! And now it's HERE!
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.