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  • 26 September, 2009

Android Community Responds with The OpenAndroid Project

The OpenAndroid Project

Google’s upset the Android community so the community has responded with an idea to replace what Google has created and what the community thought was Open Source.  The idea is called the OpenAndroid Project (aka Open Android Alliance).

The whole concept of Google’s Android and it’s Open Source approach to mobile devices has taken a huge turn and the Android Open Source Project is twisted web of open and closed components.

Google states:

Android is the first free, open source, and fully customizable mobile platform. Android offers a full stack: an operating system, middleware, and key mobile applications. It also contains a rich set of APIs that allows third-party developers to develop great applications.

So why are they are stopping developers from using some of the applications?  They are on almost every Android phone that has been released to date.  Even the HTC branded phones have the Gmail clients but they are not Google branded phones.
It appears that it’s Open Source until someone does something that is useful.  From the apps available on Android phones, what harm comes from developers enhancing the base OS and then redistributing those applications to phones that already had them in the first place?

What is it that really got Google’s attention and made them drop a pile of bricks on the Android community?

Why are they trying to squash something that only helps to promote the Android project and Android devices?

The following applications are listed in the open source project layout.  Does this mean that the listed applications are all open source and anybody can use them FREELY, make modifications and changes and distribute these to the general community?

  • AlarmClock
  • Browser
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Camera
  • Contacts
  • Email
  • GoogleSearch
  • HTML Viewer
  • IM
  • Launcher
  • Mms
  • Music
  • PackageInstaller
  • Phone
  • Settings
  • SoundRecorder
  • Stk
  • Sync
  • Updater
  • VoiceDialer

The first thing you notice form this list is that the main Google apps are not listed like Gmail and Maps so I guess this is a good place to start.

There are services listed here that I assumed where Google service like GoogleSearch, IM, Sync, etc.  Are these all open?  Are they not what they sound? Do they not tie into Google services that are closed?

 is there a list of what parts of Android are Open Source and what is not?

The OpenAndroid Project (aka Open Android Alliance) is an idea that has been started on XDA to create a completely open Android.  An alternative to Google’s own release.  This is a huge challenge as one of the key components of the Android system is the Android Market.  The Android Market is closed source and to re-create the Market and then get all the current developers to release on the new Market is a nightmare for the whole community.  Users will have to choose which Market to use.  Developers will have to choose which market to publish to.  And who will want paid applications on an open market run by the community with all the trust issues around paying for apps using credit card info, etc.

Time will tell but none of these issues have easy answers.  The only certainty right now is that Google has dropped a bomb on the Android community and the community is reacting.  What direction we go from here is unknown.

All I do know is that we need a single cohesive solution run by the community and not many small projects with different goals and directions.

If you want more info about the OpenAndroid Project, you can read the XDA thread at