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Google Pushes Openness Over Rooting

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-rooting-sounds-so-cool dept.

Google 196

jamlam writes "The Android developers blog has a comment from their dev team on the recent 'rooting' of their Nexus S phones. It contains a call from Google to handset manufacturers to open up their phones to give users choice. But will this ever happen in a market dominated by lock-'em-down cellular networks?"

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Suggestion: (4, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664024)

TFS (TFA doesn't say much more and won't even scroll with NoScript untill you allow the page):

"It contains a call from Google to handset manufacturers to open up their phones to give users choice. But will this ever happen in a market dominated by lock-'em-down cellular networks?"

No. The only solution is for Google to roll out their own infrastructure and run their own telecommunications network. They're big enough to compete with the other big boys like At&t.

But, but...Google will be mining our data and knowing everything about us...

Like At&t doesn't?! Also, Ph1r5t P05t. May we all have a comfortable and hassle-free series of end-of-year rituals.

Re:Suggestion: (0)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664098)

I trust Google more than AT&T by far.

Re:Suggestion: (2)

damaged_sectors (1690438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664248)

I trust Google more than AT&T by far.

I distrust Google less the AT&T by far.

There, fixed that for you.

Somewhere between glancing at the subject, and writing the subject headline, the Solstice drinkypoos kicked in. And a comment made by someone called Nick, on a blog written by someone called Tim (both "developers") became the official position of the company that employs them?

I agree with the(ir) sentiments, but not the interpretation it's turned into. Bah humbug

As to Google becoming a carrier... pretty likely I'd guess. Verizon'll give the the spectrum they need (in the US). Add VoIP to that and the other carriers have serious competition. Dig a little through Google's acquisitions over the last few years and maybe, just maybe, dark fibre will extend that network.

A very Happy Solstice and a merry New Year to all

Re:Suggestion: (1)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664112)

They don't have the spectrum to do it. Their "partner" is Verizon because Verizon won out a lot of the 700MHz spectrum blocks.

Re:Suggestion: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664230)

Their "partner" is Verizon because

Ya Verizon. The guys who put Bing search on their androids. Ya Google loves those guys.

Re:Suggestion: (3, Interesting)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664422)

I don't think Google should go with cellular, but instead offer free ubiquitous WiFi and promote VoiP. Set up a Google Voice account and you're good. They have the fiber. They have the tech. Google doesn't want to get in that business, but if the net starts Balkanizing, I bet they'd do it.

Re:Suggestion: (2)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664516)

It'd take a lot for WiFi to be "ubiquitous" to the same level as 3G is now. In major metropolitan areas, it's possible but people outside of cities still want their mobile data.

Re:Suggestion: (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664940)

Yeah, maybe Google should (maybe) join Apple and buy AT&T or Verizon

Or start laying their own antennas and cables.

And eat the other carriers for breakfast, for a competitor to smash the other carriers it's so easy it's not even funny.

Choice (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664028)

Give'em choice? That sounds too American. Why would we do that?

Re:Choice (1)

Arty2 (1742112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664418)

Tron Legacy: Someting unexpected happens? Call it part of the original plan.

Developer's Choice (2)

lacqui (1754380) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664058)

I don't understand this. Google, the creator of the software, has basically said "we want this to be changeable by the user". Which means that, by locking the OS down, the manufacturers are going against the spirit of the developers' wishes. Why didn't Google put a clause in the manufacturer/provider contract "The user will always be allowed full access to the device being managed by this operating system"?

Re:Developer's Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664072)

So... Google is fighting for the Users?

Re:Developer's Choice (2)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664642)

I don't know. Seems the Googs wants to wrangle the market. Theoretically, one should be able to get any old Android device and be able to install Google Voice and make calls for free (assuming wifi or whatever). On my Evo, which is currently out of service, I have Voice installed and can send texts but when I try to make a call it still routes through Sprint and won't let me.

If the device was open, people could just get a Google number and trade a monthly bill for having to be in wifi range when making a call. I'll take that trade any day.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 3 years ago | (#34665048)

Seeing as the point of TFA is that you can do anything you want with the Nexus S, it looks like that trade is yours to make. It does, unfortunately, mean being careful in the future about which phone you get since "any old Android" won't do it, but it still looks like progress to me.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664084)

Google first had to get their foot in the door somehow. They were in no place to negotiate until they made some headway.

I thought that only morons believed all that "open" rhetoric* coming from Google given the locked-down nature of the telecoms that run the show. Let's hope that Google really were right after all.

* Met with as much skepticism as Obama's "Hope and Change" bullshit.

Re:Developer's Choice (1, Funny)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664224)

Yea they got their foot in the door, then flung it open and knocked over all their users.

Re:Developer's Choice (4, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664114)

Because the handset vendors don't want that, as it leaves an easy avenue for self-support. Rooting is why Motorola locks the kernel down, so you absolutely cannot upgrade to new versions of Android directly.

Carriers hate it because it means that you're less likely to upgrade to a new contract, since your old phone will last longer.

Re:Developer's Choice (4, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664216)

What good is your old phone without a contract?

The cell providers make you sign the same contract whether you buy a phone or not. Wouldn't they have an interest in keeping you using the same phone for longer? I don't understand why more carriers don't sell more open phones

Re:Developer's Choice (4, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664280)

What good is your old phone without a contract?

Reworded: Tell me, Mr. Anderson, what good is your old phone if you... can't... speak?

Re:Developer's Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664770)

s/can\'t/are\ unable\ to/

Re:Developer's Choice (5, Informative)

crasher35 (787091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664294)

What good is your old phone without a contract?

The cell providers make you sign the same contract whether you buy a phone or not. Wouldn't they have an interest in keeping you using the same phone for longer? I don't understand why more carriers don't sell more open phones

You don't have to renew your contract to continue your service. That's a common misconception. Most carriers will continue to give you service once the contract is up. That's why they offer to upgrade your phone every time your contract is nearing an end, because that becomes an incentive for you to sign into a new contract.

Re:Developer's Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664310)

Not always, T-Mobile gave me a discount for switching to their no-contract plan. I paid full price for the phone, but I easily come out ahead.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

akintayo (17599) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664434)

You do not have to renew your contract but you do pay the same price (except Tmo) and if you switch carriers you appear to have to pay the same fees. Of course now, it makes less sense to switch carriers as the US GSM carriers are no loner really compatible.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664526)

Parent is right (unfortunately) make any...repeat any change to your account and you're locked in for another two years. I recently started doing some work for the state government and found out that qualified me for 15% of my T-Mobile bill...next time I got a bill I was also thanked for staying with them another two years.

Re:Developer's Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664682)

Parent is right (unfortunately) make any...repeat any change to your account and you're locked in for another two years. I recently started doing some work for the state government and found out that qualified me for 15% of my T-Mobile bill...next time I got a bill I was also thanked for staying with them another two years.

That sounds seriously retarded. How come you USians put up with that shit?

You need to separate the "service operators" and the "network operators". Having consumers locked to a physical network is... retarded.

Re:Developer's Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664304)

The cell providers make you sign the same contract whether you buy a phone or not.

I have to assume you don't live in the US, or else live under a rock. In the US, you sign a term contract in order to subsidize the cost of a new phone. If you already have a phone, you can activate service with no minimum term limit or early termination fee. I thought this was common knowledge even outside the US (at least it was to my friends in China and India).

Re:Developer's Choice (2)

NorQue (1000887) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664674)

What good is your old phone without a contract? The cell providers make you sign the same contract whether you buy a phone or not.[...]

Can only speak on the situation in Germany, but when you don't want a contract here you can switch to one of the countless prepaid providers, take your old number with you and pay very little - e.g. you don't need to pay for flatrate fees that you won't ever need and minutes, sms and data plans are much cheaper compared to contract prices. My bill is usually in the sub 10 EUR range each month.

Number portability != phone portability (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34665082)

but when you don't want a contract here you can switch to one of the countless prepaid providers, take your old number with you and pay very little

In the United States, you can take your old number with you to an MVNO, but usually not your old phone. Each carrier has a different set of frequency bands. Verizon and Sprint use (what I've been told are subtly different variants of) the CDMA2000 system, and AT&T and T-Mobile run their UMTS service on different frequency bands. And unlike T-Mobile, AT&T doesn't even unlock your phone for you after your contract has expired.

Re:Developer's Choice (2)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664266)

Correction, because the carriers don't want this. After all, the customers of the handset vendors IS NOT YOU THE END USER, it is the carriers. That is who they are selling to and not the end user. And carriers don't want to sell you a device that lets you do whatever as they've found ways in the past to nickel and dime every feature.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34665086)

the customers of the handset vendors IS NOT YOU THE END USER, it is the carriers.

Why is this the case? Why isn't it easy to go into an electronics store and buy an unlocked phone at retail, and then take it to your T-Mobile store to get a SIM-only "Even More Plus" plan?

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

Zebedeu (739988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664890)

Carriers hate it because it means that you're less likely to upgrade to a new contract, since your old phone will last longer.

That may be true, but I think the main reason they hate open phones is that they allow users to simply connect an USB cable and copy whatever they want to and from the phone without going through the carrier's paywall.

They also allow users to easily remove whatever crapware comes with the phone, making their marketing deals less attractive.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34665068)

There can be multible reasons. Another is that some network operators fear the spread of VoIP, which effectively destroys the very lucrative system by which they charge hugely for long-distance and international calls.

Re:Developer's Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664920)

Like what vendors and on what country you speak of?

There are many vendors in EU what sells phones as unlocked (SIM Free) what means you can change SIM as you like and you can even place your SIM card to any other phone you want.
There are 12/24 month contracts for services but there are as well non-contracted deals where you just use as long you want.

The trick is that did you buy a phone or not with the service.

If you do not buy a phone, you get free contract what you can cancel anytime you want.
But if you bought a phone with the service, then you have a 12-24 month contract. And you can only cancel that if you can legally proof you need to cancel it like with document from doctor, bank or any other official what proofs your situation is such that you can not pay the monthly fee as your economical/healt situation has changed dramatically.

You usually get the phone with bigger price than the shop bought it but you pay very much less than bying it without service.
After 12/24 month contract the service is continued "as-is" as long you want. And usually you get new offers.

I just bought few days ago a new phone/service.

ZTE Blade (Android 2.1, 3.5" superbright TFT, 512 RAM, 5Mpix camera etc etc) and a service with unlimited speed and amount (max 7.2Mbits HSDPA (HSUPA not suppoerted by default at least) and you can use phone as a modem for computer if wanted.

I pay from the phone in 24 month contract a 4,90€ a month. From internet connection 2€ a month. So I get 6,90€ a month a unlocked ZTE Blade (alias ZTE Libretto, Softbank 0003Z or Orange San Francisco). It makes 117,60€ for the phone, what I can pay fully in the first time what is in the end cheaper than bying a phone without service. WIthout service phone price would be about 190€ but with the service just 117€ (for the shop the phone cost 32€ and for manufacturer the phone was just 4,3€ so the service client pays very high fee from the phone) so I could pay just 2€ a month for the service what makes 48€ from 2 year. And as I have a 99c a day deal, I can talk as much as I want a full day just for the 99 cents.

If I would have already been a 5 month in the contract, I still could pay rest of the phone price (117,60€) and then again 2€ for service rest of the time. The Android in the ZTE Blade is unlocked as well. So easy to just switch any ROM to it as wanted. The operator even gives their own littlebit customized ROM from their FTP if someone happends to swap ROM without backupping the original.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34665092)

The trick is that did you buy a phone or not with the service.

In the United States, only the smallest of the four major providers (T-Mobile) gives a discount on the service for choosing not to buy a phone. Furthermore, only online stores carry unlocked phones, so one can't try before buying.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

jace_d (1955838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664926)

I recently got a motorola milestone, how do I go about installing 2.2?

Re:Developer's Choice (2)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664144)

Why didn't Google put a clause in the manufacturer/provider contract "The user will always be allowed full access to the device being managed by this operating system"

Um perhaps because Android, being a linux distro, is under the GPL which does not allow them to add additional terms? This could of course be fixed by requiring GPLv3 but that comes with it's own problems.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

lacqui (1754380) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664170)

Additional terms such as "you must allow the user to modify the software"? Doesn't vendor lock-down violate the GPL in this case?

Re:Developer's Choice (2)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664228)

Not necessarily, see this [codinghorror.com] .

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664172)

In Android, the GPL covers only a handful of components, and adding a "must be open" clause wouldn't have any connection to the GPL-licensed software. They could always place conditions on the use of the Android trademarks and access to the Marketplace.

One of those components is the Linux kernel (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664258)

and modifying that requires rooting.

Tivoization (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34665098)

Linux is GPLv2, not GPLv3. This allows TiVo devices to run Linux but enforce verification of the manufacturer's digital signature, and Linus Torvalds is perfectly happy with that.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664316)

Plus, Google doesn't have the right to require GPLv3. The Kernel is only licensed for GPLv2. If they had the right to change it to v3, they would have the right to change it to damn near anything they wanted.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664360)

Wrong.

9. The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions of the General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation.

Source [gnu.org]

They can copy the Linux kernel which they can acquire at GPLv2 and then give it out (modified or not) as GPLv3 and those who receive it from them can only use it under the license they received it in, or a newer version. If they want an earlier version of the license then they must find someone willing to give them a copy with an earlier version attached.

In short, the GPL is forwards compatible not backwards compatible.

Re:Developer's Choice (5, Informative)

Sancho (17056) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664384)

Wrong.

9. The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions
of the General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will
be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to
address new problems or concerns.

Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program
specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any
later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions
either of that version or of any later version published by the Free
Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of
this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software
Foundation.

Source [gnu.org]

They can copy the Linux kernel which they can acquire at GPLv2 and then give it out (modified or not) as GPLv3 and those who receive it from them can only use it under the license they received it in, or a newer version. If they want an earlier version of the license then they must find someone willing to give them a copy with an earlier version attached.

In short, the GPL is forwards compatible not backwards compatible.

Wrong. The Linux kernel specifies version 2. It does not include the "or later" clause which would allow the use of a later license.

ulessthanme

Re:Developer's Choice (2)

bain_online (580036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664504)

From the linux kernel COPYING file:

Also note that the only valid version of the GPL as far as the kernel
is concerned is _this_ particular version of the license (ie v2, not
v2.2 or v3.x or whatever), unless explicitly otherwise stated.

Linus Torvalds

Just to substantiate parent's statement

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664518)

The Linux kernel is GPL2, but the Android software that runs on top of it can be whatever licence Google wants. GPL3 would be the most obvious choice if Google wants to enforce openness. Linux can't be GPL3 because Linus says so.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664494)

Because then manufacturers would complain that they lose control over hardware

Because then carriers would complain that users are breaking the network

Because then app developers would complain it's too easy to pirate applications

Basically everyone involved in the cellphone equation except Google doesn't want you having root on your own phone, they want you to be restricted so they can enforce business models through code.

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

jace_d (1955838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664742)

you mean gooogle and the end user. but he's not important. Anyway, its regretable to see how the spirit of open source is being perverted. And you have stated the justifications they would use. from hardware manufacturers to app developers. Sad Sad Sad...

Re:Developer's Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664546)

Because it could no longer be called Android, which is overseen by the OHA, NOT just Google?

Re:Developer's Choice (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34665072)

Why didn't Google put a clause in the manufacturer/provider contract "The user will always be allowed full access to the device being managed by this operating system"?

Because Google cares more about pragmatism than ideals, and wanted to sell phones.

Why? (2, Insightful)

imthesponge (621107) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664068)

"It contains a call from Google to handset manufacturers to open up their phones to give users choice."

What possible incentive would they have to do that? The vast majority of consumers already have all the choice they want.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664102)

Installing updates on "older" phones. I am running 2.2 on a HTC magic, this was only possible by rooting it.

Re:Why? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664298)

It's clear what the user has to gain from this. GP is asking what is the manufacturer and network operator interest. In your example, they would very much rather have you buy a new phone from them to upgrade.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664154)

I disagree. I own a MyTouch 3g. I love that it is pretty much a stock Android phone. I know someone with the MyTouch 3g Slide, they hate that it has the Sense UI. They feel that it slows down the phone and is clunky. My phone is getting a little old and I will be upgrading soon. I will have to look for a phone that doesn't have a ton of bloat ware and a modified UI. Its either that or I will have to root my next phone and install a mod. So I would argue that consumers don't have all the choice they want.

Re:Why? (1)

imthesponge (621107) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664176)

Tip: If you're on slashdot, then you're in the minority. Cell carriers aren't going to change their policies to appease Slashdotters.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34665044)

Solution: DDoS.

Re:Why? (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664684)

Well, at least Palm's WebOS is already completely open. Not only is it easy to "root", it is actually encouraged by Palm (and the new HP overlords). Although Palm Pre had lousy sales, its open approach is part of what helped it maintain a dedicated user base.
I think many handset makers could learn that you can have a platform that is easy to use and hackable at the same time. Layman can just use it as it is, while (a bit) more advanced users can enjoy the wealth of homebrew programs and patches to make the phone go to 11.

Give up on the pointless closing of an open door (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664110)

IMHO they should give up on the pointless closing of an open door and give us an open phone if they are going to use an open system. Nokia don't give a shit even if I boot my n900 into a completely different OS and have done nothing to prevent me from doing so. Why should these other vendors care apart from aiding and abetting carrier restrictions?

Their own bottom line... (5, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664132)

If you can put latest and greatest Android on an end-of-lifed handset they haven't gotten money for in two years, they get nothing.

If they successfully lock things down so that you need to buy a *new* handset to get the snazzy new features. If most of the reason people get new things is for software, then the hardware vendor has their own interests in making sure their stuff comes along for the ride.

Re:Their own bottom line... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664148)

Nah - Google just has to keep adding bloat/features to Android so it just won't run on your old phone. Make the release cycle coincide roughly with the contract life times and it's business model that suits the carriers, the handset makers and Google.

It worked for every other software company for the last 40 years, no reason why it won't continue.

Re:Their own bottom line... (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664204)

If I buy a new handset with a new contract, the cell carrier subsidizes the new phone and makes the money back slowly over the next 2 years by charging me more per month than it costs to provide me service.

Or, they can keep my phone current and still have me sign a new contract for the same price as above only without having to subsidize a new phone.

So, why do they want me to buy a phone again?

Re:Their own bottom line... (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664238)

To keep you in a perpeptually renewing contract. If you weren't constantly buying a new phone, subsidized by contract, you would have no reason to sign a contract in the first place and would be much more free to switch carriers at anytime.

Re:Their own bottom line... (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664444)

That statement will begin to be true once the US has standardized on a cellular technology.

Re:Their own bottom line... (1)

Fallon (33975) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664470)

Actually, carriers should be making more money off of you in that situation. Their rates are structured around subsidized phones. You get a $600 phone for $200, and pay back the remaining over the course of your monthly bills for the duration of your contract. If you don't buy a new phone (and don't change carriers), you'll still be paying the same monthly bill, only this time the portion set aside to subsidize your phone is pure profit.

Not so much for the hardware vendors, they want you upgrading early & often.

Re:Their own bottom line... (1)

et764 (837202) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664502)

If you can put latest and greatest Android on an end-of-lifed handset they haven't gotten money for in two years, they get nothing.

With as fast as Android phones are improving, this doesn't seem like a realistic concern for me. I have one of the original myTouch 3G's, which just recently got the Android 2.2 update. The thing is, the hardware really can't run the OS at a reasonable speed anymore. I'm now looking at getting a new phone simply so I can use the software to its fullest.

Re:Their own bottom line... (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664528)

I had that problem with the Galaxy S, but a later update to Android 2.2.1 fixed my speed issues.

Re:Their own bottom line... (1)

suy (1908306) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664956)

That only applies to enthusiasts that love their phone, but only on the software side. Geeks that like phones would love to see extra features from software updates, but also will love to have faster, more powerful devices.

I'm quite happy my HTC Desire got an update recently, and I have the new Market and new Maps, but I'm pretty sure I would like to buy a new phone in at least a year or less, because I also want a front facing camera, gyroscope, NFC, etc. I can't have a phone with all those features without buying a new one.

Also, if my phone were stuck with Android 2.1 (the version that came with out of the box), I would be buying less applications (those that require 2.2 or higher).

Why doesn't Google just make Android GPLv3? (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664168)

GPLv3 require manufacturers to provide modification instructions for their devices.

Re:Why doesn't Google just make Android GPLv3? (2)

Sancho (17056) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664340)

Android is based upon the Linux kernel, which is GPLv2. Though some GPL software says "version X or later", the kernel does not.

Re:Why doesn't Google just make Android GPLv3? (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664678)

Yes, but what runs on top of the kernel can be made GPLv3.

OHA needs more O. (1)

Crimson Wing (980223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664178)

The article, along with some of the above comments, bring me back to my disgust with the so-called "Open Handset Alliance". I was under the impression that all the companies involved in this "Alliance" would be moving toward more open and user-choice-oriented hardware and software designs. So far, Google themselves seems to be the only one living up to that. Locked bootloaders, e-fuses, hardware write-protection... IMHO, Motorola, Samsung and HTC do not deserve to call themselves members of the Open Handset Alliance.

If the customer is happy (1)

Bruha (412869) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664186)

Who cares, he still pays the bills, and is more likely to upgrade to premium hardware as well. Half the cellular services are crap, people will buy music from iTunes or Amazon because the carrier music store still encrypts and is twice the price.

Not Really A Call To Openness (5, Informative)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664192)

More like a correction of Engadget's hysteria and a lamentation at the lack of openness.

The gist of it is that Engadget claims Android's security is shit since you can root it so easily.

The Android devs respond by saying you shouldn't call it "rooting" since the Nexus S was intended to allow users to install their own OS. To do that, you need to be able gain root access. In fact, they tell you how in the blog: fastboot oem unlock. That's it.

Rooting a phone implies root access was not intended, and you must exploit a security flaw to gain access. If root access was intended from the beginning, how can running the command to do so possibly be considered exploiting a security flaw?

To put it another way, is sudo a security flaw in Linux? That's basically what Engadget is saying, and the Android devs are saying that's stupid, and oh yeah phones should be open so rooting goes the way of the do-do bird.

Re:Not Really A Call To Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664882)

Rooting a phone implies root access was not intended, and you must exploit a security flaw to gain access.

What??? Rooting a phone implies root access is not initially enabled, for reasons including stability and security. If you are a more advanced user you must go through a specific process to gain higher privileges on your device. I see no problem with this as the vast majority of people don't need this, but those that want it can get it. Yes, the present situation is rooting often requires the need to exploit a security flaw, but it does not specify it.

Re:Not Really A Call To Openness (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34665090)

There is a difference between 'tick this button to confirm you know what you are doing and understand this could cause damage to your phone' and 'Tick this.. hah, no, you don't get to do what you want with this phone you own. We made it, and we get to tell you what you are allowed.'

Re:Not Really A Call To Openness (1)

suy (1908306) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664964)

Engadget does this all the time. I wrote to one of their editors when he published an article stating that you needed to root your N900 to do something, and remembered him that the N900 doesn't need that because it's already open [wordpress.com] . I'm still waiting for the response from him, or the needed correction to his article [engadget.com] .

Application usage logs and restrictions (5, Insightful)

bartoku (922448) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664198)

All applications are required to declare the permissions they use, ensuring the user is in control of the information they share.

I want more than the application to declare what permission it uses.
I want to be able to run an application that say wants access to my GPS coordinates, but I can say no you get fake GPS access.
The same with internet access, phone directory access, and so on.

I do not want to be restricted to all or nothing, and have to forgo an app all together over a potential security issue.
The best example I have is the Bible app from LifeChurch.tv. I love the app, but for awhile it wanted access to my GPS coordinates.
Why? God knows where I am already LifeChurch. But unlike the nagging iPhone version which I could deny location information every time I ran the app it was all or nothing, location information transmitted.

Heck I want everything the damn apps do logged, if I allow them internet access I want to know what pages and logs on the packets sent.
Then we can really avoid these naughty apps that are transmitting things, because the OS says hey this app is transmitting this user, and the user can say hells no.

I do not ever want to install an anti-virus application to my phone. Never ever, I do not need them on my desktop, do not need them on my phone. Die McAfee and Norton, die!

Just my two cents. Perhaps I should download the source and make my own build. But it would be much easier on me if a Google engineer did it.

Re:Application usage logs and restrictions (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664252)

You can use send fake GPS coordinates to every app with programs such as My Face Location. All you need to do is enable the fake GPS feature under development in the phone settings and install the app.

http://www.appbrain.com/app/my-fake-location/com.my.fake.location [appbrain.com]

Re:Application usage logs and restrictions (1)

Voyager529 (1363959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664362)

The flip sides to selectively granting permissions are the support headaches ("this app doesn't work! it doesn't tell me the restaurants near me!" "Did you allow it GPS access when you installed it?" "Of course not! It shouldn't need to know where I am!" "..."). More problematically, if you selectively disable network access to apps that need it to run ads (thus enabling them to be free), you've cut off its ad source, which leads to a whole OTHER set off issues, largely on the developer end.

Re:Application usage logs and restrictions (1)

JynxMe (1652545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664652)

It's not a perfect solution, but Android Gingerbread did implement an option to log (or notify/crash/dialog/etc) particular actions (such as network access) within the StrictMode API [blogspot.com] . The best part is that you can enable this through reflection, even on older apps - in theory you could push this back to everything running on the phone if you so desired.

Oligopolies Suck (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664246)

I know most Republicans don't like gov't regulating company size[1], but if you truly believe in the power of competition, then you'd want more companies providing more choices.

The "economies of scale" argument is weak for most industries. It was used to justify Detroit's "big three", but Japan encouraged about 7 car companies when it was trying to break into the industry, and this strategy gave them more competitive companies than Detroit.

[1] You don't shrink successful companies, you split them.

It's all about the "Gapps" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664250)

First off, the people who are talking about "rooting" an open platform are morons. The rooting occurs when the carrier and phone manufacturer -- yes I'm talking to YOU, HTC-- put gobs of needless, expensive, and ultimately pointless security on top of stock AOSP.

They want control. The EFF [eff.org] (did everyone donate this year?) helped affirm our rights [eff.org] to control over our own equipment, but the carriers and manufacturers are responding with more and more technical hurdles.

These short-sighted obstacles cost them money in R&D, which is ultimately passed on to us, the customer, or absorbed by their stockholders. These technical measures (locked emmcs) are pointless, immoral, bad for business, and an entire subculture [xda-developers.com] has emerged dedicated to sidestepping them.

Google has some mixed motivations here, but one thing I can think Google might do about this is to license their Google apps (or "Gapps"-- Maps, GMail, etc.) to community firmware so that they can legitimately compete with the carriers in the market. The competition and choice would benefit the consumer (example: Gingerbread is already running on the T-Mobile G2 and Froyo is available only on other platforms through community roms not offered by the carrier, who has abandoned older phones.). Plus support for community roms would help Google reach those customers who are now "locked out" of the Google market.

The downside might be more support headaches or returned bricked phones for the phone companies. But can't they look at that as a potential new market? Yeah, when you sell someone a computer and they trash it, it's a headache. A headache you can charge them to fix. Right now people brick their phones after trying to install a rom in the shadows and then return them. If phones were treated by carriers as the computers they ARE, it would be no different than someone trashing their DELL and needing Best-Buy or whomever to reinstall Windows. Or maybe they'd pay $10/hr in support.

The point is-- if tomorrow people were locked out of their computers' operating system by the manufacturers or told what software they could run on their laptops by their ISPs, there would be revolt (I would hope). But we're slowly being conditioned to accept such control starting with smartphones, working up to tables...

what's next?

Re:It's all about the "Gapps" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664644)

with phones in general, its not now that we start to get more restricted.

its the other way around, now we start to have the possibility of more openness. this comes with the smartphones. some people might have, but i don't know anybody that changed stuff about the early phone operating systems. even installing some app wasn't often done by people i know.

the android smartphone is one of the first major phones that could allow us to change the base operating system.

Maybe (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664270)

Answer to question asked in summary: maybe

There's also a "technical" reason (2)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664284)

The operators say that misbehaving phones can disrupt their network. That could be true for a very large number of bad phones.
The truth is that I don't know a out any "mod" touching the radio stuff.
It's just FUD.

Re:There's also a "technical" reason (0)

Voyager529 (1363959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664380)

They're technically right, though. More so for the iPhone than for Android handsets, one is required to modify the baseband to a certain extent. Jailbreaking and SIM unlocking are both fairly benign in that they don't actually change the data being sent throught the modem, but the fact that Jailbreaking by its nature modifies the baseband makes it essentially a malware infection. It is CONTROLLED malware that does something in the users' favor, but there's no saying that it's impossible for malicious software to use a similar method to do something that IS harmful.

Re:There's also a "technical" reason (4, Informative)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664510)

Jailbreaking (a.k.a. rooting) an iPhone doesn't modify the baseband. Only the unlocks do.

Re:There's also a "technical" reason (2)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664552)

Malware by definition is software that does something bad. Mal=bad, ware=software.
Jailbreak software is hacking software in the traditional sense in that it does something outside the specification of the device. Malware can and often does use hacking techniques, but that doesn't mean that everything that uses hacking techniques is malware.

Re:There's also a "technical" reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664782)

The operators say that misbehaving phones can disrupt their network. That could be true for a very large number of bad phones.
The truth is that I don't know a out any "mod" touching the radio stuff.
It's just FUD.

Just because you don't know about these "mod", is enough reason not to do it.

How bout a botnet of 10M phones simultaneously making phone calls?

There is no FUD here, only metaphysical certitude.

Re:There's also a "technical" reason (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664834)

Would you trust Apple or Google that market apps won't create botnets? I prefer running root than be jailed.

Re:There's also a "technical" reason (2)

cbope (130292) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664808)

All the more reason allow and encourage updating your phone. It's akin to running a pre-SP1 WinXP or similar directly connected to the net. If you are running an unpatched OS, whether it's your phone or your PC, the end result is the same. Your device will be owned. The security of your data and device are at risk if not kept up-to-date.

I'm just glad this mobile phone catastrophe is a mostly-US thing. The US really needs to open up its mobile phone market and get some REAL competition started. Compared to the rest of the developed world it's still in the dark ages. Let's start with a list of things that most if not all EU states have in a fairly competitive mobile phone market: Number portability, got it. Device portability, got it. Unlocked phones, got it. Phones without contracts, got it. Pay-as-you-go SIM cards available at any kiosk, got it. Data plans that don't suck your bank account dry, got it. Reasonable (cheap) text message cost, got it.

I read all the time about the US mobile market, and as an ex-pat living abroad for more than 10 years, I wonder why do you still accept it? It's light years behind the rest of the developed modern world. You have so much lock-in and control exerted by just a few monopolistic mobile operators across the whole US. I live in a country with a small population of only 5.2 million, and last time I checked we had at least double the number of operators compared to the US and real price competition. Sure, phones are going to cost more if you buy them without a contract and I'm not disputing that fact. But the fact is we can and it's easy. And I'm not talking about buying an "unlocked" phone from ebay from a dubious gray market reseller, I'm talking about walking into any mobile store in any local mall and making a "normal" purchase with a full warranty, support, etc. I can buy a SIM from any mobile operator (or the local kiosk) and pop it in my phone. It will work. Phones are not locked to the operator and doing so would go against anti-competitive laws here. Most of the "tricks" I read about by the US operators are simply illegal here. The operator would never be able to get away with these tricks here, they would be out of business, if not from lack of customers then the government would go after them for anti-competitive behavior.

I really tire of reading about topics like this, the US should be leading by example instead of looking like a third world dictatorship (or more accurately an corporatocracy) that is behind the times. Seriously, this is the picture seen from outside the US, I know it hurts but it's the truth.

Christmas gift!!!!! (1)

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Don't blame Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664424)

It's not Google's fault. They simply had no concept of what they were doing.

Google should become a provider then! (1)

puterg33k (1920022) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664450)

I'd love to see Google provide a cell service. He'll I'm tired of Sprint, T-mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. They all equally suck in one way or another. Not to say that Google could do better. But, Hey; I'd love to see them try! I would try their service!

Re:Google should become a provider then! (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34664566)

Google should set up a network of cellphone towers nation wide, and let you use any phone you want. If one carrier did that then the others would be forced to do the same or lose their customers. You know, actual competition.

Happy Christmas Antipodeans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664692)

where the headline gets a Bill Murray Scarlett Johansen treatment!

Flash forward 20 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664758)

The downside is that lax security such as this combined with the "smartphone as a controller" model will result in a bloom of the same sort of malware that we see on the WinPC today.

IMO, the tech community has not learned anything from the last 30 years about platform security.

fpagorZ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664778)

lead to 'cleaner be fun. It used Much organisation,

With my N900 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34664972)

I've got no lock-down issues, tested several sims in different countries; I can write apps in any language I like and review code of how other people hacked together an app thus creating a nice dynamic mind share environment. Unfortunately Nokia doesn't support and market this phone well enough, soeven though it such an awesome phone its market share (and thus amount of users/contibutors) is quite low.

I mean, it's basically as open as Debian of which it's based of and many scripts work just as well on my desktop as on my phone. - That is what openness is supposed to be.

It can be done- example (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34665034)

It can be done- the Palm Pre/Pixi/WebOS was/is that way. There was no NEED to "root" the phone, because they gave everyone root access by just entering developer mode. It was wonderful- very hackable, very nice. If you screw up the phone (which I never did), no big deal... it is "unbrickable". Just power it on with a key held in, download the current image from the web and flash it back to normal. Why the carriers didn't lock it down, I don't know.

If Android could do that, then I would be very happy. It is irritating when carriers put junkware on the phone, especially stuff that launches automatically and runs/does stuff you don't want.

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