Feeds

Google cracks open Android's closed development

Future control to curb OEM enthusiasm

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

OSCON Google will crack open more of Android's development process but keep new versions of its mobile OS closed for competitive reasons.

The giant will change Android's Native code Development Kit (NDK) so that contributed code joins the publicly available Android source tree rather than going into Google's private tree.

There's no date for when the switch will take place, but it should follow a similar move on the Android Software Development Kit (SDK).

Public contributions won't be possible on un-released versions of Android though. That will remain hidden, and Android's development will remain a private affair.

Google wants to retain competitive advantage and prevent a scenario where OEMs ship unfinished source code on phones with disastrous consequences for developers and end users as their code breaks or applications downloaded from the Android Market fail to work.

According to Google, this has nearly happened before when one unnamed OEM wanted to start shipping pre-release the Android 1.5 - codenamed Cupcake - on its phones.

Defending the private development of what is a Linux platform, Android open-source and compatibility program manager Dan Morrill told the O'Reilly Open-Source Convention (OSCON) in Portland, Oregon that Google couldn't afford for this to happen, so some development of new platforms is done in private.

"We realize we struck a balance a lot people in the fee software community might not think is ideal, but we think it works for us," Morrill said.

Speaking to The Reg, Morrill said Google wants contributions from the community because they add value and is looking on a project-by-project basis at what it can make open.

"There's no reason not to be in the open. We do have specific reasons for why some things we do we keep internal, because we compete with other companies in the electronics space," Morrill said.

Despite this closed development process, participation in Android is growing. Google claimed submission rates on Froyo were 150 per cent higher than contributions to the previous Éclair. Forty companies are official Android contributors with 1,000 contributions since launch.

Morrill also noted that Google is trying to convince phone hardware providers like Qualcomm and Texas Instruments to open up their code to work with Android features such as the radio interface link – a hardware abstraction layer. He said Google has got a long way to go but the company is working with companies to "make them realize this isn't strategic." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Sin COS to tan Windows? Chinese operating system to debut in autumn – report
Development alliance working on desktop, mobe software
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
(Not so) Instagram now: Time-shifting Hyperlapse iPhone tool unleashed
Photos app now able to shoot fast-moving videos
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.