Android News

Honeycomb code will not be released until Google sees fit

March 24, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

Android OS

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Android Honeycomb will stay locked in the pantry until Google decides it’s ready for release to everyone. BusinessWeek reports that Google will not make the Honeycomb (Android 3.0) code readily-available because of fears of what manufacturers may do to it.

Google VP of Engineering Andy Rubin says that the company will not release the Honeycomb source code until it has more time to polish Android 3.0 and ensure that device makers will not try to put Honeycomb on Android phones to what could be poor results.

“To make our schedule to ship the tablet, we made some design tradeoffs,” Rubin said in reference to why Honeycomb is not yet ready for open-source release. However, Rubin notes that Google is not going to backtrack from its history of making the Android code available to others. He added, “Android is an open-source project…we have not changed our strategy.”

Google typically releases the code used to power Android so everyone from HTC to Samsung and Vizio can build products based on that software. This often includes customizing Android as a means of differentiating new devices from the other Android phones and tablets flooding the market. We’ve already seen Samsung depart from the stock Honeycomb experience, and Google is wary of more companies doing the same on other devices. Google fears that would create a bad first impression before it is able to merge Honeycomb elements with Android phones in a future release.

While these may be valid concerns, one could easily argue that they are in conflict with the idealistic view of open-source software. Rather than provide access to the software in a reasonable timeframe, Google is withholding Honeycomb and making it incredibly difficult for small companies and independent developers to build proper Honeycomb products. Meanwhile, the larger OHA members willing to sign licensing deals are able to use and customize Honeycomb at their leisure.

>> BusinessWeek