Should Android be forked?

Troberg

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Google is behaving more and more like Microsoft and Apple, more and more like a monopoly giant.
For example, they discourage phone makers from having an SD card slot, and failing that, imposes rules like "only one directory in the root of the SD card" and "only read your own dir on the SD card", which makes the cards almost useless on a non-rooted device. Speculations is that this is due to their upcoming cloud service. Likewise, lots of development is unlikely to happen, simply because it does not benefit Google (for example, mounting of SMB shares). They also have very limiting rules on Google Play (nothing adult, no alternative markets, nothing that may be illegal in the US (but is legal elsewhere) and so on).
But, Android is based on Linux and is under GPL. A group of developers, possibly founded by one or more phone makers, could simply fork it, starting their own variant. It would free the phone makers from pressures from Google, and would allow Android to be developed based on user needs rather than Google business needs.
Of course, as GPL works both ways, Google could benefit as well. What they lose in control, they gain by getting improvements from the forked code base.
The downside would be the risk of variants causing problems. However, I see this as a minor problem, as variants already exist. If anything, such issues would weed out badly written apps, without affecting good apps. Look at Linux, where compatibility between variants is a total non-issue (I think most of the fear of incompatibility between versions comes from the Windows world, where this is an issue).
So, opinions. Do you think a fork would benefit Android?
Note: I know about Cyanogenmod and the others, but that's not what I'm talking about. They are mostly tweaks on the Google base, I'm talking about a full fork.
 

lemonisdead

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Well, I will post my opinion already knowing it won't please anybody. But by experience, I would affirm that leaving Google's world could be a real risk of loosing money, energy and so on.
Of course it could be really tempting to have an opened OS but how could we promote it massively so people could install it ? Yes, perhaps for specific needs, it could be possible.
One more word : I was contacted by Mozilla Europe many months ago to develop for the Firefox OS which should have been a success... I have followed courses and meet other developers working with them on some projects. About 24 months after, I still wonder who cares about that system...
 

Troberg

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But it would be a fork. Google's flavour of Android would remain.

Also, my hope would be that some of the big actors on the market (probably Samsung, who already have a pretty Samsung-ized Android) would install the non-Google Android as default on their devices. One thing is sure, big corporations backing the project would help.
 

thedesolatesoul

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There are already forks. Amazons FireOS. Technically all the ROMs fork off AOSP. CM12 is getting MS backup these days.
The problem is at the end of the day google is doing all of the real and heavy development, so they all go back to merge from AOSP.
You can fork it, but how far can you run with it.
 

KMatle

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I agree. On the other side Android is for free and you can develop apps for free (pure Java and b4a for a few bucks). Even Microsoft Visual Studio is for free (newer versions have a lot of functions - enough to develop the most of all apps / older versions were limited to "some views & controls").

All the big players try to make money is getting harder and harder. Android and Windows phones are cheap. Apple has some kind of religious community buying everything from apple for a lot of $€. Let's see where it leads to.

"He who pays the piper, calls the tune" (or in Germany we say: "He who pays then bread I eat, calls the song"
 

Cableguy

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I am more of a code enthusiast than developer... this said, and as someone already said, CM and a lot of the "Custom" ROM cookers do just that... they cook a bunch of ingredients.... In Portugal we say that we can cook Cod in a 1001 ways... For those ROM cookers, they get their Cod from google... and had some flavour to their cookings... some even break existing WORKING apis with their cooking skills...

A real fork in Android will only be possible if the big players like Samsung, LG and Sony really support it... but, taking Sony as an example, they prefer to comply with carriers impositions to block bootloader access (like the Xperia M series from SFR, wich is virtually impossible to unblock without factory intervention), than to go to the end user side, wich at the end of the day, is the one paying for their devices...

So, IMVHO.... a fork on Android's development road is virtually impossible...

[PS.: I knew Linux is free, but even being based on it, I find hard to believe that Android is free... if it was so, rooting would not be considered a warranty break, would it?]
 
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Troberg

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[PS.: I knew Linux is free, but even being based on it, I find hard to believe that Android is free... if it was so, rooting would not be considered a warranty break, would it?]
The GPL license has nothing to say, either way, on warranty.

Rooting as a warranty break is strictly a legal question, and it varies. Here, in Sweden, it does not void the warranty, unless it can be proved that the rooting was the cause of the problem (based on the same logic that if you put third party brake pads on your car, and something unrelated, say, the battery, breaks, it's still under warranty).
 

WAZUMBi

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Google is behaving more and more like Microsoft and Apple, more and more like a monopoly giant.
Totally agree. For independent developers this is definitely a concern...

For example, they discourage phone makers from having an SD card slot, and failing that
Interesting...
I have several test devices. All have SD card slots. Curiously though my Samsung 7" does not allow the saving of downloaded apps on the external SD card.
I also own the original Samsung 10.1" Tablet which did not include an SD slot but I was able to get an adapter for saving data but not apps.

Likewise, lots of development is unlikely to happen, simply because it does not benefit Google
Whatever makes them money I suppose.

They also have very limiting rules on Google Play (nothing adult, no alternative markets, nothing that may be illegal in the US (but is legal elsewhere) and so on
I have always been very confused about this. I have had several apps and two accounts suspended for various reasons.
What confuses me is that almost anything goes on YouTube, AdMob, AdSense, and Google+. I mean anything.
Sex, drugs, graphic violence, crude humor, offensive satire...
You name it, it's there!

Yet I had a simple memory game app suspended for displaying women in... bikini's?
I had a developer account terminated for poking fun at Justin Bieber and Kanye West? Whatever...

Something very strange is going on over there in the Empire of Google Land. :confused:
 
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Troberg

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Yep, when it comes to adult/offensive material, Google would have been better off if they had just implemented a rating system, and only banned downright illegal stuff.

As for the women in bikinis, are you sure it was not a copyright issue? I got threatened with a ban because I made a video player and in the screenshots, I had a scene from Lost (which just showed jungle, precisely because I wanted to avoid problems). After replacing the screenshot with a scene I could prove was under GPL, the problem disappeared. So, perhaps they didn't think you owned the photos in question?
 

WAZUMBi

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Yep, when it comes to adult/offensive material, Google would have been better off if they had just implemented a rating system, and only banned downright illegal stuff.

As for the women in bikinis, are you sure it was not a copyright issue? I got threatened with a ban because I made a video player and in the screenshots, I had a scene from Lost (which just showed jungle, precisely because I wanted to avoid problems). After replacing the screenshot with a scene I could prove was under GPL, the problem disappeared. So, perhaps they didn't think you owned the photos in question?
Na. The reason they gave me was something like "Displaying sexually explicit or suggestive material".
Mine was up for over two years. They payed it no attention until the downloads started averaging about 100+ a day and I actually started earning some money from AdMob.

They have really cracked down on these types of apps. When I made it I first searched Google Play to be sure it was OK. I found hundreds of similar and way more obscene apps. There are a lot fewer now.
 

udg

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Yet I had a simple memory game app suspended for displaying women in... bikini's?
Today AppOfTheDay proposes iKamasutra.. and the description promises to show 100 of illustrated positions.
WAZUMbi, try to ask Google how this compare against your innocent looking bikini! :)
 
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