Google's Witholding Android Honeycomb from the Public Over User Experience Concerns

Illustration for article titled Google's Witholding Android Honeycomb from the Public Over User Experience Concerns

Yes, you can buy a Motorla Xoom with Android Honeycomb on it. But according to BusinessWeek, Google isn't releasing the tablet variant of Android to developers publicly because they're worried people will try and shoehorn it into phones.

[Andy] Rubin says that if Google were to open-source the Honeycomb code now, as it has with other versions of Android at similar periods in their development, it couldn't prevent developers from putting the software on phones "and creating a really bad user experience. We have no idea if it will even work on phones."

"Android is an open-source project," he adds. "We have not changed our strategy."

Advertisement

Rubin says that the reason for this closed approach is due to the limited timeframe they had to develop Honeycomb. They didn't have time to consider all the possible ways the OS would be used.

But this also raises a good question of what open-source really means. For Google, it seems like open source is building the tools and OS privately, then releasing it at their convenience to the public to do as they please with it. But naysayers believe that if Android was truly open-source, the development process of each build would be transparent and accessible at every juncture.

Despite being an Apple-esque move for Google, who have generally operated on the other side of the spectrum, maybe this shouldn't be so shocking. Android is primed to become the most widely used mobile operating system, which means there's a lot of money at stake for a lot of people. Could this be Android's first step away from their overarching, open-source approach? [BusinessWeek]

UPDATE: Here's what a Google spokesperson had to say on the matter.

"Android 3.0, Honeycomb, was designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes and improves on Android favorites such as widgets, multi-tasking, browsing, notifications and customization. While we're excited to offer these new features to Android tablets, we have more work to do before we can deliver them to other device types including phones. Until then, we've decided not to release Honeycomb to open source. We're committed to providing Android as an open platform across many device types and will publish the source as soon as it's ready."

DISCUSSION

While I understand Google's position on this, don't they realize that the very people who try to "shoehorn" it onto a phone are probably devs that are smart enough to realize if it is a sucky experience, it's probably due to the fact that it's for tablets and not smartphones? Not that 3.0 sucks? I mean seriously, it's not like your soccer mom or tween or grandpa will be flashing a custom 3.0 ROM onto their phone, and then blaming it on the software and not the combination of two.