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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Google Android and Open-Source


When Google announced Android, its software platform for mobile devices, it released an SDK for developers to work with, but it also promised to eventually release the code under an open-source license. Today, Google and its partners in the Open Handset Alliance did exactly that. You can now download the code and help Google and its partners to develop it further. The source code has been released under the Apache 2.0 license and consists of the complete codebase of Android, including all the libraries, media codecs, and applications.

The timing of this announcement coincides with the release of the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1, which will go on sale tomorrow.

Apache License

The Apache License allows developers to distribute and modify the source code in any way they want, and developers are not required to distribute the new code under the same license. The new license does not even have to be an open-source license, which will give companies the option to develop their own, proprietary platforms on the basis of Android.


iPhone and Android Compete for Developers


It will be interesting to see where developers will take the Android platform now that they have full access to it. We have already seen the release of quite a few very interesting programs for Android in anticipation of the G1 launch.
This announcement also sets Google apart from Apple, which is trying to keep complete control over its iPhone platform. While most users probably don't care about the politics behind the scenes, the Android platform might siphon off quite a few developers from the iPhone - especially given Apple's erratic behavior around including applications in the iTunes store lately.
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