Openness

Woz thinks Android is more functional than iOS

Woz, a known Android fan, thinks the Android OS is more functional than iOS in many ways. Even though an iPhone is his primary device he still wishes his iPhone would perform some of the tasks his Android devices do.

“if you’re willing to do the work to understand it a little bit, well I hate to say it, but there’s more available in some ways...

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Less than openy

According to 9to5Google, the reason Google Wallet is nowhere to be found on the upcoming Android Samsung Galaxy Nexus is because... wait for it... Verizon has blocked it. That's worth repeating. Google has allowed a carrier to prevent users from having a Google app on a platform marketed as being open, on a device meant to be the very flagship, the beacon of that openness.

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Openy

Google won't be releasing the source code for Android 3.0 Honeycomb any time soon. (For an excellent overview of why that is and what it means, see Jerry Hildenbrand's article over at our sibling site, Android Central.) What makes this interesting for TiPb is that, for a while now, Google has used the term "open" as a hammer to differentiate themselves from Apple, iOS, and the iPhone. From Eric Schmidt's "completely open" quips to Vic Gundotra I/O smack-talk to Andy Rubin's now-ironic tweet, it's been clear from the start that "open" wasn't a development philosophy for Google so much as a business and marketing strategy. It was a brilliant if disingenuous move that rallied many hardcore free and open-source software advocates to their cause (and platform) and got a bevy of tech writers to skewer Apple for being equally and oppositely "closed".

That it was business and marketing rather than philosophy was fairly clear from the start -- "open" is such a nebulous term to begin with. Open to whom and in what way? Even if we restrict ourselves to open-source, Android was never Stallman-class open, GPL licensed and patent unencumbered. It was never even Mozilla-class open, where the source was freely available even during development phases (most of us couldn't download, compile, and contribute back to Gingerbread before the Nexus S debuted). It was Google-class open, which meant it was only released when it benefitted Google, and only really meant for manufacturers and carriers. We've spoken about it plenty of times here at TiPb, and so has Android Central. (Phil Nickinson and I even did a special podcast on it back in October.)

It's kind of like that popsicle you get at the corner store -- it's not chocolate, it's chocolaty. Android was never open. It was openy.

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Dear Google: removing H.264 support from Chrome is kinda evil

Google has recently announced that they're removing H.264 -- the video compression open standard used by everything from iPad and iPhone to YouTube and Netflix -- from their Chrome browser. Up until now Google has been the only company to support all the major video codecs, including H.264, OGG Theora, and their own, newly open-sourced WebM. Apple supports H.264, as does Microsoft, and Firefox supports only OGG Theora.

Why the sudden change? Some might say to hurt Apple, whose iOS and iTunes depend heavily on the technology and have shown no signs of slowing down even after Google decided to stop so much partnering and start much more competing with Apple directly in the mobile OS and media services space. Others might say it's simply to give Google a competitive advantage and push adoption of their own WebM format. Neither motives are mutually exclusive but again put the advancement of standards-based web technology on the back burner -- something Google once championed. (Hey, you know it's bad when Microsoft is chiding you over lack of standards support, okay?)

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Developers weigh in on Android vs. iOS openness

Former Facebook for iPhone developer Joe Hewitt has weighed in on the Steve Jobs re-ignited "openness" debate with a cogent argument that Android isn't much more open than iOS, at least not in the true spirit of the term. Here's what he posted (mostly via Twitter for iPad, for those keeping track at home):

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Android father Andy Rubin responds to Steve Jobs about "openness"

Andy Rubin has responded on Twitter to Steve Jobs' remarks about Android's openness -- how Google is using it as a smokescreen for fragmentation -- made during the Apple Q4 2010 earnings call yesterday.

"the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make

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Steve Jobs: Google uses "open" as a smokescreen for "fragmented".

Making a surprise appearance during Apple's Q4 2010 conference call today, Steve Jobs tore into Google on the issue of openness. Jobs basically said Google uses openness as a smokescreen for fragmented, while Apple prefers an integrated software/hardware business model.

Apple makes devices that just work, Jobs said, while Google expects the customers to be systems integrators and figure out multiple different hardware and now even app stores as Verizon, Amazon, and Vodafone start rolling their own markets. For developers, considering everything from testing to selling, it becomes a mess.

Some highlights, paraphrased:

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iPhone live 120: Verizon horizon

Verizon iPhone could be real, Apple's latest iPhone ad, Apple TV, AirPlay, and the war for our living room, do Androids outsell iPhones, and Phil from Android Central talks openness. This is iPhone live!

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Once again: Android can't outsell iPhone

Nielsen is once again trudging out a survey saying Android outsold iPhone and BlackBerry in the US. So once again we'll trudge out this kindly, helpful reality check:

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Would Verizon still want iPhone if they could fork over Android and make their own Droid OS?

We keep hearing rumors about iPhone on Verizon but at the same time Verizon is doing gangbusters with their Android-powered Droid line, and running roughshod over Google to do it in a way they'd never be able to with Apple. So what if they took the next illogical step and just forked Android and made their own Verizon (or Droid) OS?

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