Google’s Android not so open anymore?

AndroidGoogle just turned it’s back on open source, well kind of. The success Google’s Android has seen in the past year, was mainly due to the openness of its Android Operating System. By providing a stable smartphone OS, namely Android, Google allowed manufacturer to focus on making the smartphone, thus reducing production costs.
This strategy is in fact very good, but it is also what has led to fragmentation of the Android OS, creating a fractured Android world. The wide varieties of devices running the different Android versions, created major headaches for developers having to adapt their apps to a multitude of devices.
Consumers were also not given a rest, after spending a few hundred dollars on the latest Android device just to learn that it will not be updated/ updatable to the latest firmware.

So Google took a big step, against its normal principle, but it had to stop the version fragmentation among Android devices. From now on, companies that will want to modify Android’s OS will have to go through Google’s head of Android development, Andy Rubin.

In the past, some manufacturers became unwilling to update older devices to the latest version of the Android operating system, often leaving users with deprecated software. Handset manufacturers often modified or added extra User Interface (UI) such as HTC’s Sense and users had to wait after the handset manufacturer to update its UI after an Android update. Whereas, stock Androids, would often get Google’s Android update right away since no UI is involved and updates come directly from Google. Such device include Google’s Nexus One and Google’s Samsung Nexus S.

This will affect, manufacturers and carriers alike, modifications such as an overlay UI may be allowed, but Google will probably reinforce the fact that updates should also exists and delivered in a timely manner.

This new approach is far from Google’s normal behavior, however in order to introduce some quality control and a common denominator experience, Google will have no choice then to go this path.

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