back to article Google's SECRET contracts: Android lock-in REVEALED!

Details of secret contracts that Google signs with phone manufacturers have become public for the first time, revealing the extent of the restrictions Google puts on Android smartphones. In an email in 2011, a Google Android program manager injudiciously described the OS as a "club" to make phone makers "do what we want". But …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Less restrictive than MS or Apple's

Looks like one can use Android OS without having to sign such a license/contract, evidence points to Amazon and other's that use Android OS without having Google's services loaded. Try to get that kind of deal from MS or Apple.

31
17
Anonymous Coward

Sooooo

Android is completely open source?

Really?

2
10
Anonymous Coward

Re: Less restrictive than MS or Apple's

Here's a straw. Clutch away...

4
3

Re: Sooooo

Android -yes

Google's apps (eg Play Store, Gmail client etc) - no

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Sooooo

Yes, of course it is.

There are some plebs that quite clearly not understanding the difference between Android and Google Play services.

Interestingly, some pleb writer at Ars Technica also got confused the other day, and got reamed in the comments section by people that DO understand the difference.

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable/?comments=1&post=26199423

Sadly low quality journalism is the mainstay of the Internet.

2
2
Bronze badge

Re: Sooooo

There is another arstechnica article that gives a good overview of the the way 'android' functionality is becoming part of Google's proprietary Play services'.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/10/googles-iron-grip-on-android-controlling-open-source-by-any-means-necessary/

Basically, what many know and refer to as "stock Android" isn't pure Android but Android (AOSP) and the proprietary and closed source Google Play/Mobile Services (GMS).

What is interesting is that Google seem to prohibit an OEM from distributing a "stock Android" device and another device that includes the AOSP and a third-party replacement to GMS.

The issue is that GMS isn't standalone, but is integrated into Google's ecosystem with all it's proprietary API's etc. so replicating GMS also requires replicating the ecosystem which todate only Amazon has really attempted.

This raises an important point about the various IP disputes that have involved 'Android', namely whilst MS, Apple et al wish to make broad claims about 'Android' the substance of their court cases todate have been more about the proprietary extensions to AOSP.

0
2
Gold badge

Re: Sooooo

"http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable/"

Without clicking the link, based on nothing more than the title, I'm going to say this is written by Peter Bright.

0
0

Re: Sooooo

While I think DrPizza/Mr Bright's example of in-app-purchasing as a tool of Google lock-in was misguided, I think his point still stands: Microsoft is being encouraged from all sides to fork Android and use an hypothetical Micro-Droid OS to replace Windows Phone OS, but because of the way Google is developing Android, Android as a base OS is becoming less and less relevant. i.e. all the Google bits that are interesting to Android users (Maps, email, Play Store, Drive, etc) are Google exclusive and MS would have to replace them. Granted MS has Bing Maps, outlook.com, a Windows Phone App Store, OneDrive etc, so it has an advantage over other players, but it won't magically get millions of apps to fill out the Windows Phone App Store, because developers will have to target different APIs for the Google Play Store and Windows Micro-Droid Store, as well as getting apps accepted on two different stores.

Behold, BlackBerry did something similar, instead of forking Android, they bought in a seriously engineered OS, but whither the apps!? So they noted that a lot of Android apps just need the Dalvik VM and don't even necessarily need the Google-proprietary APIs, so they implemented the Dalvik VM for BlackBerry OS 10. That worked so well for BlackBerry that they exited the consumer market.

0
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Moderator note

Well done, commentard. You've just earned yourself a trip to the pre-moderation naughty step courtesy of me.

If you have difficulty understanding why this has happened to you, please refer to your seven identical rejected posts in conjunction with section 4 of the Reg Comments Guidelines.

Have a nice day.

30
4

Also in the AC news cats take over the moon, dogs teach pigs to fly.

Or have I really missed Linux becoming an evil Ai controlled by Overlord Linus?

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: Moderator note

In a way he's right you know, just not the one he meant.

This is what happens when you base your platform on open-source code such as Linux: Google can control access to its own applications and services, but cannot control who uses the base Android OS, nor how they use it. Though it does appear that the Chocolate Factory is slowly extending the scope of its proprietary additions at expense of the free parts... Or so I hear.

If this trend continues, with Google progressively scrapping the free bits of Android in favor of proprietary solutions, maybe in the not-too-distant future we'll see manufacturers giving the likes of Replicant a try? Because this is also what happens when you use Linux: if the current provider is giving you a hard time, you can always switch.

10
0
Silver badge

No...

... you've missed something based on Linux being borged and becoming an evil controlled by Overlord Google.

0
0
Gold badge

Re: Moderator note

Apple's based on BSD. Microsoft incorporated some BSD code. Open source is everywhere. Basing your platform on it isn't inherently bad, or leads to ultimate evil.

Buying into any ecosystem without realizing that it only takes one douchepopsicle in the right place at the right time to ruin for everyone, however, is just naivete.

1
0
Bronze badge

"Google does not demand that smartphone manufacturers make Google the default search engine as a condition of using the Android operating system,"

There is no contradiction, they can use the Android OS, what they can't use is the Google apps.

But then, we have known that all along.

15
3
Silver badge

Interesting

This puts the old spat between Google and Cyanogen into a new light. When Google went after Cyanogen a while back it looked strange and wierd. Looking at this, however there is an explanation now - Cyanogen in those days was providing all google apps, but none of the placement and bundling restrictions.

4
1
Silver badge

How is this "Android" lock-in?

Google puts constraints on phones that use the Google Play app store, and have Google apps like Google Maps or YouTube. Android has nothing to do with it. Amazon distributes Android phones with a different app store, and they can do whatever they want.

Call it Google Play lock-in, or Google Apps lock-in, but this is not Android lock-in.

33
4
Bronze badge

not completely correct

I do agree with you, though, would like to say that Google approval doesn't have to do with Google Play, formerly known as Android Market. This might be true about the Google Play as an app itself, where you search for an app, install it etc. However, I would doubt that too. There is no such limitation. Moreover, one can use GP on even a few Blackberry devices.

1
1
Silver badge

Re: How is this "Android" lock-in?

> have Google apps like Google Maps or YouTube.

While Google may limit access via an app these are still accessible using a browser.

2
1
Bronze badge

Re: How is this "Android" lock-in?

Google defends drowning Acer's newborn Alibaba Linux mobe: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/09/17/google_alibaba/

Google to devs: Fragmenting Android is AGAINST THE RULES: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/15/android_sdk_fragmentation_license_change/

0
2
Anonymous Coward

Goose and Gander

On the one hand, I'm uneasy that Google is doing more to push itself to the forefront than Microsoft did and its nasty tactics are just as evil as anything Microsoft ever did yet it's not getting a fraction of the punishment or hate that Microsoft did. On the other hand however, Google doesn't have the monopoly Microsoft had on the desktop and it is easier for someone to not use any Google services today than it was to buy a non-Windows PC back in the day.

I try and live Google-free, but the reality is that nobody is Google-free. If you've ever so much as sent an email to someone on gMail, you're in.

11
8
Anonymous Coward

Re: Goose and Gander

If you've ever so much as sent an email to someone on gMail, you're in.

Not if you as sender don't have a Google account, because you then have not signed up to their ToS (you cannot have a one-sided contract).

11
5
Silver badge

@AC Re: Goose and Gander

Don't know which rock you live under...

But you send an email to a friend on gmail... Google will slice and dice the email... they will then build a profile of you the sender. Why? Because they can. You didn't agree to it, but your buddy with the gmail account did.

You want to sue them? Go for it. While you're at it, can you spare a brother a cool million? (Think about how much the lawsuit will be if Google doesn't succeed in getting it tossed in the first place...)

5
3
Silver badge

Re: Goose and Gander

In that case that android phone is of very little use. Unless you want to develop all of your own apps in which case you do what? Oh, sign ot the Android SDK terms and conditions.

0
3
Silver badge

Re: Goose and Gander

Not if you as sender don't have a Google account, because you then have not signed up to their ToS (you cannot have a one-sided contract).

What he was trying to say was that anything that enters the Google ecosystem becomes subject to Google's infamous search scrutiny. IOW, if you send an e-mail to a gMail user, everything about it will be scrutinized, and even if you don't agree to use Google, they'll start building a profile on you, a la a Jigsaw attack. Merely interacting with anything pertaining to Google is all it takes. This isn't anything new; Facebook does it two by using the Like button as a sort of leech outside the Facebook ecosystem.

6
1
Bronze badge

Re: @AC Goose and Gander

And since your friend has appointed Google as his assistant, it has every right to peak inside your mail to him before putting beside his tea cup.

[Google: Cloud users have 'no legitimate expectation of privacy': http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/14/google_cloud_users_have_no_legitimate_expectation_of_privacy/]

0
2
Silver badge

Re: Goose and Gander

> In that case that android phone is of very little use.

It is still a phone, and messaging, and email, and a browser, and several other things. Some want just that and don't care about flappy birds.

> Unless you want to develop all of your own apps

Or get their apps from F-Droid and several others.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: @AC Goose and Gander

The Register builds a profile of you every time you post. They have your email address, they know when you're awake, they know your interests and can estimate your education level based on the size of your vocabulary and how bad your grammar is. But neither they nor Google know who you are so they can't associate that profile with anything on the net or in real life, which means it can never be used.

Try it: send "I like cheese" to a Gmail address, then go online and see if Google can identify you as a cheese liker.

0
0

Meh.

3
6
Silver badge

But Android phones and tablets are available without Google's apps. Probably the best selling Android tablets are Amazon's Kindle Fire models which have no Googleyness. So his point is?

13
3
Silver badge

Amazon are kind of a special case. What they want to do is sell online content and they created their own app store for that very purpose.

Amazon are also one of the world's biggest software houses. I know you never expect that to be true but it is; they pretty much invented IaaS which is how come they decided to sell spare server cycles and their cloud business was born.

Amazon are easily in a position to ignore the buggy and deprecated APIs in Android (that Google also ignore because they superseded them with proprietary functionality distributed as a part of Google Play) where somebody like, for the sake of example, HTC would not be.

The truth is, Amazon could have taken pretty much any linux-based OS compiled for ARM and made it into the Kindle Fire OS. Android just happened to be available.

0
0
Silver badge

Amazon had to source their Kindle hardware from a manufacturer that doesn't make a Google Android device. Amazon are one of the few companies who are in a position to make their own successful app store.

Then there is the propriety Google Mobile Services (Google Play Services) that provides a shedload of APIs and functionality. These are only available to Google sanctioned devices. So Amazon had to provide their own mapping services...

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable/

0
0
Anonymous Coward

I just wish I could remove the ****ing Facebook app

not signed up to FB. Never will. But can't do a damn thing about it sitting there running all the time and wasting bandwidth with it's incessant "updates".

(Yes I could root the phone, but why should I have to ?)

12
2

Re: I just wish I could remove the ****ing Facebook app

Disable it (Settings > Apps > All, select Facebook, press the "disable" button). Assuming you are running Android 4.x, that is.

Then it can't run, disappears from your app drawer, won't update. It's still in the /system partition, but then as user apps go to a different partition you'd not gain space for your own apps or data by removing it, so for all practical purposes the result is the same as uninstalling.

20
1
Silver badge

Re: I just wish I could remove the ****ing Facebook app

You can disable it... Not as good as uninstalling, but at least it stops trying to hog your bandwidth and processor, and it won't want to update every two days.

But yeah, it would be nice to be able to uninstall the crapware without rooting.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: I just wish I could remove the ****ing Facebook app

Can't blame Google for the Facebook (cr)app. I've got a Nexus 7 which comes with stock Android and gets all the latest upgrades - not seen any sign of Facebook or Twitter, and don't want to. Have not had cause to root, but would do so in an instant if either of these forced their way in.

It's the other manufacturers who add their rubbish and also throw in apps considered to be popular that are the bugbear here. All of these are available in the App store and are trivially easy and free to install for anyone that wants them, whereas baking them in to the product is an action much more difficult to undo. I like the looks of some of the Android kit coming on the market lately, but will only consider the Nexus range for the reasons stated at the start of this post.

2
0
WTF?

Re: I just wish I could remove the ****ing Facebook app

What FB app? Not a part of vanilla Android.

Blame your manufacturer or your provider for that app, not Google.

7
0

Re: I just wish I could remove the ****ing Facebook app

You don't have to root the phone. Try shopping around next time to find a phone that doesn't force Facebook on you (or anything you seem annoyed with). Google Nexus came without it by default. I'm sure there are others.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: I just wish I could remove the ****ing Facebook app

That's the phone maker, or your carrier as my Nexus 4 is free of any Facebook app.

Being stuck with something you don't want from Google (say youtube) is not much different then the crap the carrier sticks on the phone. At least youtube works and will be updated unlike most of the crap the carrier sticks on your phone.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: I just wish I could remove the ****ing Facebook app

> (Yes I could root the phone, but why should I have to ?)

Because it's *your* phone?

2
2
Anonymous Coward

"Google does not demand that smartphone manufacturers make Google the default search engine as a condition of using the Android operating system,"

And this is completely true, what point is trying to be made here?

If, however, you sign up to their licencing program and suite of apps and apply for a compatibility certificate they make certain requirements?

If you franchise MacDonalds you have to do things in an extremely prescriptive manner, doesn't stop you opening your own burger shack though.

In fact it is probably similar with most licensing programs in the world.

23
4

The problem is it's exactly the same issue as occurred with MS in the 90's. They had a dominant position in the desktop OS space and used it to push certain applications into the users hands.

This is what Google do with the version of Android that is the largest mobile phone OS in the world. The argument is that like MS they should be open to allow other services/applications to supplant there own. I certainly don't think you can replace all of Google's services with Bing flavoured ones on Android.

In your analogy it would be like the majority of all buildings being owned by McDonalds and them not allowing any other restaurant business to rent them.

4
3

"The argument is that like MS they should be open to allow other services/applications to supplant there own"

You mean like letting Amazon release an Android tablet without signing that agreement and letting them install their own apps for everything including their own app market?

Android IS open for other services...

2
0
Silver badge

The point is

Google has good competition lawyers.

If they did try to force the issue here it would have been a competition matter - they have market dominance in search. So they quite deliberately do not. It may sound interesting to layman. To someone who has some idea of competition law - not so much (it is the obvious thing to do).

Well done, google, have a cookie...

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Google not default search engine @AC

"Google does not demand that smartphone manufacturers make Google the default search engine as a condition of using the Android operating system,"

And this is completely true, what point is trying to be made here?

----

The point that was being made was that Google weren't using Android directly to enforce the dominance of their search capability, something that lots of people are worried about and may result in discontent becoming a full-blown cry for anti-trust action.

1
0
Silver badge

Except that Android, the base Android is now crippled and crappy. It used to be workable around Froyo but since then more and more of the core functionality of Android has been replicated (and supported) in the proprietary Google suite and ignored and left to fester in the base OS.

THAT's what android-evangelists don't seem to realize. Google Android is great. Take away the Google bit and what you've got is an outdated, bugridden, insecure nightmare.

2
3
Bronze badge

Except that Android, the base Android is now crippled and crappy.

Meaning of this and/or any links by any chance.

Just trying to understand what do you mean by core functionality of Android OS? What is proprietary? Google doesn't make software proprietary besides a few of their own apps. The kernel got very important proprietary bits or blobs. Are accusing Google for not divulging the source of PowerVR, Mali, ARM code, other proprietary drivers? Should Google be responsible for this? Good job for a Microsoft (hence a anti-Google) evangelist, but you gotta check your facts too at times .

0
1
Silver badge

"The problem is it's exactly the same issue as occurred with MS in the 90's."

No, the problem is that OEMs don't have the quality of cloud services that Google does, so they can sell perfectly good working phones with AOSP on them, but can't provide all the value-added bits without help from someone like Google. Amazon and Nokia can compete, Samsung is getting there but the rest have barely even tried. Google doesn't prevent them trying or competing and doesn't force their own products on Android OEMs, so it's nothing like the complaints against Microsoft. You would do better by complaining that Amazon doesn't license its services at all!

The McDonald's franchise analogy would fit if McDonald's prevented franchisees from also owning a KFC outlet, as Google prevents its licensed OEMs making non-GMS devices on the side.

0
0
Silver badge

@eulampios

> Meaning of this and/or any links by any chance.

Link as requested.

Of course, if Nokia do out an Android phone with HERE services that's going to stir things up a little but I have my doubts about the feasibility of that. The pundits tout this bit of hypeware as Nokia's means to run an OS on cheap hardware but you'd have real trouble finding much Android hardware with cheaper internals than the Lumia 520, and certainly none that runs as well.

Then, given the absence of Play (and its associated APIs), they'd need their own app store and apps which have been compiled without reference to Play. These days, even the games tend to reference Play - feedback, maintenance of scores, high-score table, in-app purchases, achievements etc) so I doubt if that's any kind of trivial task.

1
0

"Google does not demand that smartphone manufacturers make Google the default search engine as a condition of using the Android operating system"

"The MADA requires the licensee to preload all Google apps, and even specifies where they should appear on the Android phone's home screen."

These statements do not contradict each other. Maybe people should make the difference between restricting the use of an OS vs. restricting the use and terms of use of services. Google does the latter.

If you want the Playstore and other Google services, you get your device certified by Google. If you just want to use Android, you don't have to give a fig about what Google wants.

Eldelman either does not understand the English language or MS paid more than Google. He's an academic, I highly doubt the first hypothesis.

18
6

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums