Android News

Andy Rubin: Android is still open

April 7, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

Android OS

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Andy Rubin is the VP of Engineering at Google. He’s also the man credited with getting the Android ball rolling and overseeing its earth-moving progress, so when he says something about Android, we tend to listen.

Rubin’s latest comments concern the recently ignited controversy about how open is Android based on Honeycomb not being released to all manufacturers. The Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab are devices with Honeycomb, but the HTC Flyer runs Gingerbread because Google hasn’t yet released the code. How open is that?

As open as it has always been, says Andy Rubin. “Device makers are free to modify Android to customize any range of features for Android devices,” Rubin said in the post, echoing a statement Google gave to us recently. The issue is how quickly those manufacturers are able to release their customizations because Google doesn’t release the code until it is ready or partners are willing to keep things standard in exchange for early access.

Android remains open and is no more closed today than it was when the Open Handset Alliance was formed. The so-called “anti-fragmentation” program has always existed, so the alleged anger from executives about not getting Honeycomb is either sour grapes about not being first or a misrepresentation of the way things have always been done. That might not be as open as people would like Android to be, but you can’t say that Google is suddenly locking down the OS.

You can read Rubin’s comments in full on the Android developer blog, but here is one important note that people must consider: “We don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ solution,” Rubin said. Honeycomb was created for tablets and is not ready for phones. Google is actively working on changing that, and will publish the Honeycomb code “as soon as this work is completed.”