Notebookcheck Logo

Google to keep Android 3.0 closed source for now

No announcement of when the source will be open to the public, smaller developers will have to wait

Unlike Apple’s iOS, Google has so far been releasing much of the source code for its popular Android platform not long after each key release. This time for Honeycomb, however, Google has decided to keep its source code completely under wraps for now.

The biggest reason for the holdback is due to what Google claims is “not yet ready to be altered by outside programmers and customized for other devices, such as phones.” When Android was officially revealed last month, it was specifically catered for tablet use only. In fact, Google engineer Andy Rubin told BusinessWeek that the Honeycomb code was rushed in order for it to be readily available for tablets such as the Motorola Xoom.

Another reason for the holdback, claims Rubin, is to keep the Honeycomb experience away from phones. He fears that if some developers had full access to the Honeycomb code, then they may begin altering the software for smartphones and could create below average user experiences.

We previously reported that the successor to Honeycomb, “Ice Cream,” could be universal software for future smartphones and tablets alike. This could be another likely reason why Google is keeping the source code a secret for the time being. If the company is planning to eventually integrate Gingerbread and Honeycomb functionalities into one new release, then “Ice Cream” may be the more flexible source code for Google to feel more comfortable about releasing.

A major drawback to the closed source decision, however, could create disadvantages for smaller developers. While larger developers such as Motorola, Acer, and HTC already have access to Honeycomb by licensing the software directly from Google, smaller developers will have to wait much longer before they can even begin implementing the software for their own devices.

Unfortunately, Rubin was not yet ready to announce when Google may release the source code. He did state, however, that the company is still committed to open-source code. “We have not changed our strategy,” he said.


Please share our article, every link counts!
Allen Ngo, 2011-03-26 (Update: 2012-05-26)