updated 04:50 pm EST, Wed December 28, 2011
Rubin downplays Android openness in post removal
Google's mobile VP Andy Rubin has raised questions after he deleted the Twitter post touting Android as open. Posted as a response to the late Steve Jobs' assertions that Android openness is disingenuous, it showed the ability to compile an Android kernel and make a custom build. It's not clear when Rubin took the post down or why.
The withdrawal of the post, the first out of just seven Rubin made, may have been out of respect for Jobs following his death in October. However, it has also followed after mounting debate over the sincerity of Google's claims.
The company is using Android's easy modification as a defense against antitrust investigators and recently posted the Android 4 source code. Critics have noted that Google's open-sourcing is nonetheless highly selective, as it withheld Android 3 source almost entirely and still sets license requirements before developers can have the full Google app set. Unlike most open-source projects, Google also won't take contributed code from outside sources and gives selective early access to companies like Motorola or Samsung.
Many have pointed out that Google does little to protect openness for actual end users. Android phone designers regularly lock the bootloader to prevent custom firmware and, in cooperation with carriers, often prevent users from uninstalling some apps. Hacks to get root access can sometimes get around these, but they often dilute the point of proclaiming an open platform. An iPhone user can have similar freedom through a jailbreak, and only a completely stock, unlocked Android phone like the HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus is guaranteed the openness Google promises without requiring hacks. [via MG Siegler]