Feeds

Open sourcers strike back at Google cease-and-desist

Android without the Google

High performance access to file storage

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." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.