October 22, 2014

Google Responds [CYANOGATE '09]

android_dev_logoYou know something’s a pretty big deal when Google feels obligated to respond to a situation.  Such is the case with the recent situation going down between the Android team and Cyanogen.  Today sees Dan Morrill dropping by the official Developer blog to weigh in on the confusion surrounding what is considered Google, Android, and/or open source.  Although they never mention the specific modifications, everybody knows who they are referring to.

With a high-quality open platform in hand, we then returned to our goal of making our services available on users’ phones. That’s why we developed Android apps for many of our services like YouTube, Gmail, Google Voice, and so on. These apps are Google’s way of benefiting from Android in the same way that any other developer can, but the apps are not part of the Android platform itself. We make some of these apps available to users of any Android-powered device via Android Market, and others are pre-installed on some phones through business deals. Either way, these apps aren’t open source, and that’s why they aren’t included in the Android source code repository. Unauthorized distribution of this software harms us just like it would any other business, even if it’s done with the best of intentions. – Excerpted from Developers Blog

So there you go – the actual apps are not part of Android, even if they are pre-installed on some phones.  They are standalone Google properties and may or may not come loaded on handsets.  Distributing them without authorization is what this is all about.

Sounds like you can do whatever you want with the source code repository as long as you aren’t baking your own (or Google’s) additives in as well.  Hopefull this clears things up a bit for those who are saying that “Android is not open source after all.”

How lovely if the scenario ends up playing out like this?

Google: Hey dude, you gotta stop with the mods that have our apps included.

Cyanogen: Ok, I can stop including your apps but I am still going to keep on putting out my own builds using your repository

Google: That’s cool.  By the way… we were wondering if you might be interested in helping us out and getting paid for it.

Android fans around the world: Wow!  Android just keeps getting better!