Sticky, Sweet, And Gooey: Google Delays Open-Sourcing Honeycomb

Sticky, Sweet, And Gooey: Google Delays Open-Sourcing Honeycomb

Only a few months ago, Honeycomb (Android 3.0) was a much-hyped fundamental improvement over previous Android releases like FroYo or Gingerbread. Thus far it's been mostly sizzle, rather than steak. Reviews of Motorola's Xoom often discuss persistent software bugs that are almost certainly caused by the half-baked Honeycomb rather than by the Xoom's hardware. This is a significant development for Android; the problems of previous iterations have generally been papered over by enthusiasm for the OS and the promise of upcoming superior flavors.

Google's response, at least for now, has been to keep Honeycomb closed-source.     This won't affect the heavy hitters, companies like Samsung, Motorola, and HTC already have Honeycomb in hand. Smaller developers or app programmers, however, are stuck in the cold. Google's VP of engineering, Andy Rubin, indicates this was a conscious decision. "To make our schedule to ship the tablet, we made some design tradeoffs," says Andy Rubin, vice-president for engineering at Google and head of its Android group. "We didn't want to think about what it would take for the same software to run on phones. It would have required a lot of additional resources and extended our schedule beyond what we thought was reasonable. So we took a shortcut."

Rubin goes on to say that if Google released Honeycomb in its current condition, it could do nothing to prevent  companies from building products around the OS. The fear is that these various companies would create a lousy UI experience and therefore turn customers away from Android in the future. His comment that "We have no idea if it [Honeycomb] will even work on phones" is disingenuous at best.


It's gorgeous, Xoom-y, and unhappily buggy.

Free software advocates maintain that Google is making a mistake by not releasing Honeycomb to the public. "It's usually a mistake," said Eben Moglen, founding director of Software Freedom Law Center. "Long experience teaches people that exposing the code to the community helps more than it hurts you." To be fair to Google, however, it's not individuals, interested parties, or university programs the company is concerned with. The real issue here could be the fourth-rate counterfeit products the pour out of China, often with little to no Q&A testing.

Google maintains that the Android team is already "hard at work looking at what it takes to get this running on other devices." Honeycomb includes tablet-friendly features like improved multi-touch support and better multi-tasking / web browsing. At this point, Google seems unlikely to release an open-source version of Honeycomb down the line; there are already rumors that Honeycomb's successor, Ice Cream Sandwich, will be closed source as well. It's rumored that Google will return to open source flavors three versions down the road, presumably when it's had time to harden the OS and improve the underlying UI. 
0
+ -

>> Honeycomb's successor, Ice Cream Sandwich

I'm pretty sure the guy naming these things at Google needs an intervention about his food addiction.

+1
+ -

I personally think he is smoking something and has the munchies all the time. So at the time it seems like a great name for the product. He also leaves his office and goes and gets some of whatever desert it is. By the time he gets back and is eating said desert it is obvious he is a master mind so it sticks.

As for opening this one up I thought Android was already open source (rofl jk). I know it is to a degree, but also knows Google determines that degree, so it is not really open source because open is open not partially closed. This issue is pretty complex in all reality though. The one thing I am having issues with here is slates (IE: Xoom) and smart phones which pretty much recently have the same hardware basically except the screen. So how could this be true in any way. The Xoom has the same hardware or even less than whats currently being intro'd to the channel as well as whats coming. So it makes no sense in reality.

0
+ -

@rapid1 :Stop trying to go inception on us

Honeycomb is supposed to be an OS designed for tablets, but as rapid1 pointed out, the hardware in android tablets is actually quite similar to the hardware in the higher end android smartphones as well, however you have to take into consideration all the lower end smartphones.

When you think about those it explains why google isn't open sourcing honeycomb.

Honeycomb will work well on all the higher end android devices but were it to be released to other small name manufacturers, those manufactures would push out Honeycomb updates that wouldn't be able to run on the android phones with weaker hardware.

The user of those phones would have a bad experience, and wouldn't blame their manufacturers but would point their finger at google.

So google isn't allowing Honeycomb to be open-source just YET because they want Android users to have the best experience possible and if Honeycomb is run on weaker android phones that will not be the case.

+1
+ -

>> @rapid1 :Stop trying to go inception on us

RoFL

+1
+ -

They could just say that their is a minimum system requirements for Honeycomb and force manufacturers to only release it to those devices that are capable of running it. But I understand where they are coming from.

+1
+ -

People just love to hit on Google, specially mac lovers who try to justify their closed environment.

The fact is Honeycomb isn't ready. It is still missing stuff and I personally see no reason for it to be publicly available yet.

Why, then, do big companies already have it? My guess is they simply had to rush a competing product against the ipad2.

+1
+ -

True, but in this case Android developers and anyone making a Honeycomb device brought it on themselves, by rushing (example) the Xoom to launch just to compete with the iPad 2. I have demo units of both where I work, and while I'm generally an Android kind of guy, I have to say that the iPad 2 turns out to be a much better tablet for the same price (despite having a slower processor and half the RAM of the Xoom). Although to be fair, now that the Xoom (still sticking with it for the sake of example) has Flash and a few updates under its belt, it's a lot better (read: it's what it should have been at launch). Heck, it's almost like a desktop really, at least from my perspective where my gaming desktop is separate from my internet computer: the Xoom would basically replace that internet computer for me.

-1
+ -

LOL: yeah but omega then it would not be open source (like it is now right)!

0
+ -

@Joel Hruska 3 versions down the line? You can't be serious! First of all, it doesn't take that many versions for a product to become stable; for proof, look at Google's previous products, in which 2.6, 2.7, and 2.8 were already plenty stable. We are talking 3.0 (emphasis on the "O") here...Google isn't going to even wait one version number-- Honeycomb itself will be open-sourced, and will undoubtedly be done so with the next version number, which might be 3.1 or even 3.0.2.

What Google is dealing with here is the Tablet OS equivalent of KDE 4.0-- alpha-quality software haphazardly released as final. Once Google works out all the kinks, it will have all the stability of KDE 4.4+, and Honeycomb's users will feel the difference.

Google has been promoting the use and development of open-source software more than any other major software company of its caliber. Instead of spreading rumors that Google will be close-sourcing its software, give them a chance to correct its mistake, and trust Google to pull through with open-sourcing Honeycomb like it already has done with so many of its other software products.

@omegadraco the hardware requirements were not the issue, it was buggy software. Xoom was fully capable of running it, Honeycomb just wasn't capable of "running itself".

0
+ -

Just use a custom rom. GPA and Cyanogen are both built from honeycomb source. Besides custom always beats stock. And let's be real, a closed rom is not going to stop true developers from hacking it. Code is code and anything can be decompiled and rebuilt.

Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment
Username:   Password: