What is “Open” means when it comes to Android?

by Rosgani 0

Android OS is an open source operating system developed by Google. And, as an open source operating system, of course, all manufacturer should develop an operating system without  fear of a patent and agreements.

Anyone can use them and if you compile the Android Open Source Project (ASOP) you get a fully functional mobile operating system. But you don’t get the “full” Android you get on an officially sanctioned device.

Still, in this sense, Android is open. Plenty of phone and tablet makers have used this code base to create their own take on Android.

The one of example company that has been modified Android OS is Amazon which built Amazon Kindle Fire device that running modified Android operating system. They have modified Android OS as far as possible so that Kindle Fire has no resemblance to Android. In addition, its use is way different from Android.

Furthermore, there are several mobile phone manufacturers from China who do the same. They take the Android OS source code plus a few apps on it and then embed it on a phone or tablet product. And, it still does not matter to Google. At the other end of the ASOP spectrum are numerous “no-name” Chinese phone makers which simply grab the Android source, bundle some of their apps with the OS and ship a myriad of phones with it.

However, the tablet or the smartphone will not be any such thing as Google applications. From the built-in Gmail, Google Search, Google Maps, Google Chrome or Google Play. None of the Google apps is an open source application. To obtain the application officially, a company must developed partnership with Google. Specifically, the company must be part of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA).

By becoming a member of the OHA, a company can freely embed various Google applications in a cell phone. However, instead the company will not be able to act independently to modify the Android device. In addition, the company also can not delete the Google applications from their devices.

And this is what they do on the Acer. On the one hand, Acer is part of the OHA. And, as a member of the OHA, Acer is not allowed to release smartphones that are incompatible versions of Android.

Google blocking Acer from releasing a Aliyun-based device sure isn’t making Google look good. The company has now explained why it did it and, more importantly, revealed that Alibaba’s Aliyun is actually based, at least in part, on Android.

There’s nothing wrong with that, as Android is open source, the problem is that an Open Handset Alliance member, like Acer, can’t ship an incompatible version of Android.