April 17, 2014

Andy Rubin Clears the Air About Android Rumors

Photo: Joi Ito. Some rights reserved.

Android head Andy Rubin took to the Android Developers Blog to clear the air about rumors that have been circulating recently: that Google is imposing new rules to reduce fragmentation, and that they are holding back release of Honeycomb source code in a way that betrays open source commitments. By referencing Gene Amdahl in the post’s title, Rubin labels both assertions as FUD: a campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt. (Amdahl coined the phrase in the mid-1970s.)

Regarding new rules to reduce fragmentation:

“Our ‘anti-fragmentation’ program has been in place since Android 1.0 and remains a priority for us to provide a great user experience for consumers and a consistent platform for developers. In fact, all of the founding members of the Open Handset Alliance agreed not to fragment Android when we first announced it in 2007. Our approach remains unchanged: there are no lock-downs or restrictions against customizing UIs. There are not, and never have been, any efforts to standardize the platform on any single chipset architecture.”

Regarding holding back Honeycomb source code:

“We continue to be an open source platform and will continue releasing source code when it is ready. As I write this the Android team is still hard at work to bring all the new Honeycomb features to phones. As soon as this work is completed, we’ll publish the code. This temporary delay does not represent a change in strategy.”

The whole post is worth reading for Android enthusiasts and anyone interested in smartphones.

While it’s a strong rebuttal, it’s worth noting that some of what Rubin says in this post can coexist with parts of rumors that are out there. For example, that “anti-fragmentation” rules have been around since the beginning does not refute rumors that existing rules are now being more strongly enforced. Similarly, clarifying that the “temporary delay” in publishing Honeycomb code is not a change in strategy does not refute rumors that the tablet-optimized OS was rushed to market in a not-quite-finished state.

Let us know what you think: do Andy Rubin’s assurances satisfy you, or do you still have concerns about how Google is handling Android?

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