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Google's Grand Android Plan

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the are-you-pondering-what-i'm-pondering dept.

Android 190

CWmike writes with news of a significant change in Google's strategy for Android. According to a Wall Street Journal report, "Google plans to give multiple mobile-device makers early access to new releases of Android and to sell those devices directly to consumers, said people familiar with the matter. That is a shift from Google's previous practice, when it joined with only one hardware maker at a time to produce 'lead devices,' before releasing the software to other device makers. Those lead devices were then sold to consumers through wireless carriers or retailers." JR Raphael adds, "Signs of something big have been brewing in AndroidLand for some time now: First, we've had the increasingly loud buzz about Google's top-secret mission to build an inexpensive Nexus-like tablet. Then, last month, Google opened the door to selling unlocked Nexus devices directly to consumers, eliminating the need for carrier meddling and contract commitments. Now, at long last, we're getting a glimpse at what's likely the final piece of the puzzle."

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190 comments

1st post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015301)

this was my grand plan

Re:1st post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015701)

You surely have great ambitions, uh.

"just think if you could" (4, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40015337)

"just think if you could switch carriers because you have an unlocked phone"

well, eh. I do have.

not much of a grand plan really. I'd reckon most galaxies worldwide were sold unlocked too. US is a bunch of partial payment pussies and changing that is a grand plan I suppose. they should just lobby the government in USA to force network operators to not lock and to use compatible tech and to disclose handset subsidies and real pricing.

Re:"just think if you could" (1, Interesting)

upside (574799) | about 2 years ago | (#40015401)

This. How about mandating that the customer get to keep his/her number when switching networks? *Boggle*

Competition. The US has heard of it.

Re:"just think if you could" (1)

neokushan (932374) | about 2 years ago | (#40015537)

Wait, you can't keep your number when you move networks? Is that like a US thing?
In the UK, there's loads of legally binding things to make sure you can keep your number. In fact, it has to be transferred to your new provider within 48hours and I think that time frame is getting shorter.

Re:"just think if you could" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015559)

Yeah, but you get the number the government decides you should have.

Freedom comes with a price.

Re:"just think if you could" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015773)

I'm fairly sure you get a random number. My number started as a random unregistered PAYG using pre-paid cards paid with cash, until the point I decided a contract would probably work out cheaper. So sure if you choose to pay for it using anything than pre-pay, you register your phone/sim, or port your number then you'll instantly lose anonymity, but that's not the same thing. :)

Re:"just think if you could" (4, Informative)

Sancho (17056) | about 2 years ago | (#40015603)

You can. It's called number porting, and we've had it for a while. I don't know what the GP was talking about--maybe he was going to sarcasm, but it didn't come across.

Re:"just think if you could" (2)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 2 years ago | (#40015897)

The weirdest thing is trying to get a pager number ported to a cell.

Very small carriers and pager carriers were exempt from the portability law.

And it looks like if a company says they "can't" port a pager number, nothing in the world can get them to change their minds.

It is as if the pager number is burned into the bios of their routing equipment, and changing that is a complete impossibility.

Re:"just think if you could" (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#40016061)

In the UK, there's loads of legally binding things to make sure you can keep your number. In fact, it has to be transferred to your new provider within 48hours and I think that time frame is getting shorter.

Same in Canada... As long as you're not moving to a different LD calling area, you can take your number with you (and even if you are, you can, you'll just be paying LD rates with most carriers). The rules say within 48h, but personal experience switching providers says it's closer to about 5 minutes... I have had the same phone number with 4 different providers in the last 10 years, and the longest it has actually taken to port the number was about 20 minutes. And they warned me it might take longer than usual that time, because they were having a system outage at the time.

It boggles the mind that the US hasn't heard of LNP.

Re:"just think if you could" (1)

medcalf (68293) | about 2 years ago | (#40016267)

Yes, you can keep your number in the US when you switch. I've had the same number for twelve years across three carriers.

Re:"just think if you could" (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#40016645)

There's plenty of other countries where the number is legally yours forever. Argentina is an example. US has far more carrier-friendly laws, clearly.

Re:"just think if you could" (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015547)

You can port your number between any major US carrier... Not sure what you are going on about...

Two things stop any meaningful "freedom" for cell phone users in the US.

1. Network technology and frequency, every carrier as the their own freq. bands and versions of tech. So switching isn't possible in a lot of cases.

2. Carrier, 2 year contracts to lock you in. Part of the issue is the "discounted" phones but the MAIN issue is the Carrier's WON'T give a discount on service if you buy your phone outright so you gain nothing by doing it.

Smartphone service for $35/mo from Virgin (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40015661)

the MAIN issue is the Carrier's WON'T give a discount on service if you buy your phone outright

They'll have to give such discounts if they want to compete with the $35 per month plan that Sprint's Virgin Mobile brand offers.

Re:Smartphone service for $35/mo from Virgin (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40015733)

virgin has crappy phones and the current Nexus only supports GSM. CDMA versions are sold by the carriers

the MVNO carriers operate on the cheap. everyone knows how much data any given phone will eat up in a month which is why the MVNO carriers like to limit which phones they support. no one will allow an iphone/galaxy or any other high res screen phone on their MVNO network for $35 a month

Re:Smartphone service for $35/mo from Virgin (1)

Bad Ad (729117) | about 2 years ago | (#40015965)

Sounds like an American problem. In the UK, you can get unlimited data and text with 250 minutes for £10

Re:Smartphone service for $35/mo from Virgin (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#40016309)

There's a difference between an MVNO and a Fight Brand [wikipedia.org] ... While I don't really have any experience with Virgin in the US, they are considered a fight brand here in Canada, because they're wholly owned/operated by Bell.

And honestly... you may call it a "crappy phone", because it's not a quad core 2GHz processor with 4GB of RAM, but the Samsung Galaxy Ace which I have from my carrier has no problem with anything I've thrown at it, despite only having 512MB of RAM and an 800MHz processor. Unless you're doing heavy gaming, you really don't need the latest and greatest, and if you *are* gaming, why not buy a DS or a PSP?

Re:Smartphone service for $35/mo from Virgin (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#40015861)

The government should treat it like what it really is: A LOAN
The Cellular company is giving you the phone for free... but then making you pay for it via a service contract that is ridiculously expensive. It IS a loan, the government needs to treat it like one. The "Interest rate" should be regulated just like all other loans.

Re:"just think if you could" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015731)

2. Carrier, 2 year contracts to lock you in. Part of the issue is the "discounted" phones but the MAIN issue is the Carrier's WON'T give a discount on service if you buy your phone outright so you gain nothing by doing it.

T-Mobile gives service discounts for non-subsidized devices. And as more people discover they can purchase a phone and save money, plus get a service discount, I imagine it will slowly become more popular. On an average smart phone, buying your phone outright, even without service discounts, most people can save $250-$500 per year. So sorry, you've missed just about every correct answer on that one.

This is, of course, why the carriers don't want to encourage their customers to migrate to that model, because it would cost them many millions of dollars per year.

Re:"just think if you could" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015793)

No it won't. Americans are starting to take out five-year loans on used cars. "Spend more now to save money in the long run" is not part of our national mindset. I say this as someone who bought an unlocked Nexus One and got that discounted T-Mo plan. I know damn well that most people won't do that.

Re:"just think if you could" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40016155)

2. Carrier, 2 year contracts to lock you in. Part of the issue is the "discounted" phones but the MAIN issue is the Carrier's WON'T give a discount on service if you buy your phone outright so you gain nothing by doing it.

T-Mobile gives service discounts for non-subsidized devices. And as more people discover they can purchase a phone and save money, plus get a service discount, I imagine it will slowly become more popular. On an average smart phone, buying your phone outright, even without service discounts, most people can save $250-$500 per year. So sorry, you've missed just about every correct answer on that one.

This is, of course, why the carriers don't want to encourage their customers to migrate to that model, because it would cost them many millions of dollars per year.

LOL what? where does this savings come from? the money fairy?

Re:"just think if you could" (1)

BStroms (1875462) | about 2 years ago | (#40016025)

You can port your number between any major US carrier... Not sure what you are going on about...

Actually, this is only partly true. The ability to keep your number is regulated by the government in the Wireless Local Number Portability. However, as the name might suggest, it's only applies if you're living in the right area code for your cell phone. I don't have that option because I moved across state lines but didn't want to change my number. If I switch carriers, I lose my number.

Re:"just think if you could" (1)

42sd (557362) | about 2 years ago | (#40016081)

I have a St Louis number and I'm currently 400 some odd miles away and was able to port mine last month with Virgin Mobile. You might want to double check that.

Re:"just think if you could" (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40016547)

If I switch carriers, I lose my number.

My solution to a similar problem with a different cause was GOOG voice. Port it to GOOG and point GOOG to the new number.

After doing this I noticed how rarely "other people" call my cellphone for voice. Communication seems to have moved to email and social networks.

Re:"just think if you could" (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40016481)

2. Carrier, 2 year contracts to lock you in. Part of the issue is the "discounted" phones but the MAIN issue is the Carrier's WON'T give a discount on service if you buy your phone outright so you gain nothing by doing it.

Also no service discount after the 2 years are up. At least as of last time I had a contract phone, probably nearly a decade ago now.

Re:"just think if you could" (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#40015565)

You can borrow this one, if you like.

The Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code C628:2007 establishes processes that will enable you to transfer between telephone companies, by stipulating the maximum length of time a transfer can take, notification and validation processes, and mechanisms for avoiding invalid transfers.

How will a transfer affect my telephone services?
The telephone company that currently provides you with a telephone service must continue to provide you with a service during the transfer. Your ability to make a telephone call should not be affected. Once the transfer process is complete, you will retain your current telephone number and any call barring or unlisted number status.

http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_1726 [acma.gov.au]

Re:"just think if you could" (5, Informative)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#40015589)

This. How about mandating that the customer get to keep his/her number when switching networks? *Boggle*

Actually, you can [fcc.gov] . Since ~2004 or so.

Re:"just think if you could" (1)

ChristW (18232) | about 2 years ago | (#40015651)

I've had my current phone number since... 1995 or something like that. Probably before that.

Note that I live in The Netherlands.

Re:"just think if you could" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015655)

What the hell are you talking about. Its been law for years in the US. You can port your number to any carrier. If a carrier is telling you otherwise, they are lying.

Re:"just think if you could" (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about 2 years ago | (#40016621)

Argentina sell phones carrier-less in general, and I belive that it's not the only country where this is common. Granted, mobile phone cost quite a bit more, but a mobile phone is yours once you have it, not two years later.

Tried before and failed; see previous /. stories (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40015347)

I thought Google tried selling Nexus devices directly to U.S. end users before and declared it a failure [slashdot.org] after complaints [slashdot.org] .

Re:Tried before and failed; see previous /. storie (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015663)

I purchased the GSM Galaxy Nexus direct from Google Play last week Monday. It arrived on Wednesday. Due to a small contract dispute with Sprint, which they resolved with admirable customer service skills, I had to wait until Sunday to have it activated. I'm loving it so far, but admittedly am still in the honeymoon phase.

I went with T-Mobile's web special: 100 minutes talk, unlimited text/data (5gigs 4g speed) for $30/month. For comparison, Sprint wanted to charge me $200 less for the phone, but would not let me keep my plan and the cheapest available was $80/month. Two year contract. So in just five months it will have paid for itself, and I'm off contract and can take this phone anywhere I want on the AT&T and T-Mobile bands to whichever prepaid plan is best for me. Regardless if the phone holds up as well as my last one (Original HTC Touch 4+ years), it was a sound investment and I look forward to continued use.

TL;DR- Thank you Google for providing me with a great phone, at a reasonable price, that made it possible for me to avoid the butthurt that is "subsudized phones".

Re:Tried before and failed; see previous /. storie (1)

kidgenius (704962) | about 2 years ago | (#40016639)

True, but they were also selling the phone for $599. IF (BIG IF), they can sell the device for $399, then they probably can get more takers.

Wow Google is missing the problem... (-1, Troll)

SerpentMage (13390) | about 2 years ago | (#40015355)

The main problem with Android is not that the network carriers are the problem. Sure there are issues with it. BUT please tell me how my Acer Iconia tablet and its lack of updates is somehow a problem of the network carrier?

The problem with Android is that it is becoming a clustereff! I have an Android phone and Android tablet. I also have an iPhone, and iPad. I prefer the iPhone and iPad.

Here are some issues:

1) lack of updates! We have two android tablets and one android phone and the updates just SUCK!
2) apps will not work across devices. I can understand that tablet apps will not work on a phone. But I have phone games where if they run on the tablet the graphics do really funky things and are completely unusable.
3) Why on earth is the chrome browser only on ICS, and not honey comb? There is no excuse.
4) Battery life truly does suck in comparison to my iOS devices.
5) Performance and usability is lackluster. Windows Phone, and iOS devices have superior UI response. This goes back to the architectural design of Android vs iOS/Windows Phone.

I gave Android a chance, truly tried to like it, but I wish Google would focus on the Android operating system and cleaning that up instead of trying to push the blame to the others. Instead Google thinks the best use of its money is to develop augmented reality glasses...

BTW just for kicks, nowhere in any of the Star Trek series have there been augmented reality glasses! It is a dumb idea! Oh wait there was this one episode... BAD GOOGLE, BAD! ;)

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40015423)

unlike AMD and Intel where x86 CPU's work with all apps, ARM CPU's are different. the early Tegra CPU's were notorious for missing features that other ARM CPU's had. they might all run the same instruction set but there are other features that some CPU's don't support.

Tegra didn't support something called NEON which is why Skype video calling didn't work on nvidia SoC's for months

NEON, 3DNow, and SSE (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40015527)

As I understand it, missing NEON is the rough counterpart of missing SSE. AMD's Athlon CPUs support x86, but after Intel introduced SSE instructions in the Pentium III, the next couple versions of Athlon supported AMD's own competing 3DNow instructions instead of SSE.

Re:NEON, 3DNow, and SSE (1)

ArcherB (796902) | about 2 years ago | (#40016531)

As I understand it, missing NEON is the rough counterpart of missing SSE. AMD's Athlon CPUs support x86, but after Intel introduced SSE instructions in the Pentium III, the next couple versions of Athlon supported AMD's own competing 3DNow instructions instead of SSE.

True, but if I recall, applications still ran fine if SSE and/or 3DNow were not detected.

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015455)

Well, I have an Adroid tablet and an Android phone (SGII) and outside of a few things that were created for phones (pre-ICS) that didn't format properly on the tablet, I've had no issues with differing platforms. In fact the Play Store shows you which android devices you can install a given app on from your browser. And UI response on my devices is great. The updates from the phone manufacturers can be slow (not Google's fault) but there is a thriving community to get whatever you need for your phones/tbalets. Chrome is only in beta, so I assume it's only on ICS because they wanted to launch it on the current flagship phone (Nexus S). I don't have an iOS device but my Samsung phone is comparable or better in battery life to what my friends get with their iPhone (anecdotal, but not sure you can blame the OS either way unless you compare iOS to Android on the same HW).

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015647)

The best thing that could happen to Android is an unlocked, pre-rooted phone. Either that or just an easier process to update firmware. The problem we have is too many people trying to protect us from ourselves. Compare all the stuff you have to do to upgrade your phone with an "unofficial" release to what you have to do to install Linux on your PC and tell me that the updates from the "thriving community" are a viable option.

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (1)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | about 2 years ago | (#40016039)

The best thing that could happen to Android is an unlocked, pre-rooted phone. Either that or just an easier process to update firmware.

Rooting an Android phone is almost a no-brainer. There are several forums where even the noobiest of noobs can follow an instruction list and do it themselves. Updating firmware once a custom recovery app like Clockwork Mod is installed is also very easy (relatively; if you can install CWM, you can do just about everything else). I'm running ICS on my Galaxy S handset now. Seven months ago this phone had T-Mobile's bloatware version of 2.1. I wouldn't hesitate to root, unlock and install a new ROM on any new handset I buy in the future.

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (3, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#40015529)

This has always been my problem with Android (although I'm a relatively happy Android phone user). If Android is really an open operating system. we shouldn't have to rely on the device manufacturers and network carriers to get software updates for it. If Google wants to compete with iPhone/iPad on customer satisfaction, they should make it so that companies selling Android devices sell them unlocked, and that users can easily install other firmware on them. There should also be an "official" Android release from Google that people are free to download and (using the mandated easy to install new firmware support) install on their phone/tablet. Carriers/manufacturers should be free to put whatever crap they want to on the device at the time of sale, but the consumer should have the ability to easily upgrade the software, and uninstall stuff that the carrier puts on there. Apple has been pretty fair about support older phones with new software updates even when they release newer phones. Android should be the same, if not better. Looking at Android right now, it seems the best bet is to get a device "supported" by Cyanogen, as they seem to be the ones churning out the most updates, and trying to get newer releeases of Android on older phones. However, that's still not a great solution since there's many pleas from people bricking/boot-looping their phones on the forums that it's not something I would recommend to the lay-user.

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#40015653)

If Google wants to compete with iPhone/iPad on customer satisfaction, they should make it so that companies selling Android devices sell them unlocked, and that users can easily install other firmware on them. There should also be an "official" Android release from Google that people are free to download and (using the mandated easy to install new firmware support) install on their phone/tablet.

This is neither possible nor desirable. in order for this to happen Google would have to know everything about every Android device, which is not what we want. We want anyone to be able to make a device. And as iWhatevers never come unlocked and WindozePhonezzz don't always come unlocked either, you're asking for something that nobody gives you. Why should Android be held to a higher standard than everyone else?

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#40015783)

Nonsense. Ubuntu doesn't have to know the hardware of every single computer sold to work on all types of software. MS doesn't have to know the hardware of every Windows PC to be able to make an OS that runs on them. A phone/tablet in the end is just a small computer. The hardware on the devices does not vary that much from manufacturer to manufacturer. I think Google should do something like MS does with it's "Designed for Windows" program, so that consumers know they are getting a device that can be upgraded easily. Since Android is open, manufacturers would still be able to go against Google's wishes and load Android on the device, but I think that Google should be pushing them the device makers to make it easier for people to keep the software is up-to-date, and they should be working with consumers to make them look for devices that carry the "seal of approval" so that they can be assured proper updates.

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#40015911)

Nonsense. Ubuntu doesn't have to know the hardware of every single computer sold to work on all types of software.

Uh, do you mean, work on all types of hardware? Because it clearly doesn't.

MS doesn't have to know the hardware of every Windows PC to be able to make an OS that runs on them.

That's because the tools that the manufacturers use to make the Windows PC report itself to Windows (like the EDID and so on) are written by microsoft and designed to tell Windows the truth and lie to other operating systems, and because Windows DOES know the hardware of these PCs; the manufacturers develop drivers specifically for Windows which are then in many cases sent to Microsoft. And when they don't pay for this service, or don't send it in, then you need to supply a driver disc or in some cases actually need to slipstream the driver before the hardware can be used with your OS. But this is an infeasible solution in Linux-land because the driver ABI is a moving target. I heard some mumbles about there being movement along those lines, though, with some targets some people might be able to hit, but you're still left hoping that the manufacturer develops new drivers. The drivers may well be closed-source, especially for mobile devices.

A phone/tablet in the end is just a small computer. The hardware on the devices does not vary that much from manufacturer to manufacturer.

But actually, it does. It varies a hell of a lot.

Since Android is open, manufacturers would still be able to go against Google's wishes and load Android on the device, but I think that Google should be pushing them the device makers to make it easier for people to keep the software is up-to-date, and they should be working with consumers to make them look for devices that carry the "seal of approval" so that they can be assured proper updates.

You're asking for a lot of things which don't exist in any other software ecosystem.

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (3, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40015567)

Updates are a worry to me as well - although I eventually decided my Android adventure wasn't working with my HTC Desire, I've been looking heavily at the Galaxy Note in the past week or two. Having played with one a lot, I think Samsung have a good grip on the issues I had before, but my main issue is that the device is 6 months old, and yet is only just getting ICS this week. So I have to start my comparisons from catch again when I get one with ICS on to play with - is it still responsive, do the apps still work, does the update overbear the hardware etc etc etc.

The Note should have had ICS 4 or more months ago. Right now, the slow update is a huge negative.

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (2)

chowdahhead (1618447) | about 2 years ago | (#40015599)

You've touched on the whole point of this without realizing it. Expanding the nexus program will give people more options for unlocked stock Android devices that are updated frequently. I'm not predicting success, but it holds potential.

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (4, Interesting)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 2 years ago | (#40015637)

The problem with Android is that it is becoming a clustereff! I have an Android phone and Android tablet. I also have an iPhone, and iPad. I prefer the iPhone and iPad.

Here are some issues:

1) lack of updates! We have two android tablets and one android phone and the updates just SUCK!
2) apps will not work across devices. I can understand that tablet apps will not work on a phone. But I have phone games where if they run on the tablet the graphics do really funky things and are completely unusable.
3) Why on earth is the chrome browser only on ICS, and not honey comb? There is no excuse.
4) Battery life truly does suck in comparison to my iOS devices.
5) Performance and usability is lackluster. Windows Phone, and iOS devices have superior UI response. This goes back to the architectural design of Android vs iOS/Windows Phone.

Every Android device vendor seems to have their own custom ROM and you can't rely on the fact that they will update it. Basically, as a user, you can be lucky with an Android device or you can be SOL. When people ask me which Android device to buy I usually recommend the device vendor that seems to have the best track record on updates. Check out the following link, it's one of the best visualizations of the state of Android fragmentation I have yet seen:
http://opensignalmaps.com/reports/fragmentation.php [opensignalmaps.com] Developing for Android looks like a bit of a nightmare but this guy is still surprisingly optimistic considering the legions of exotic devices he has to deal with.

Re:Wow Google is missing the problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015763)

Some dick keeps modding you flame bait, I tried modding you up, but the same dick modded you back down again. I even checked your post history before I modded up to interesting. I reckon you're on the level. Seems like a Fandroid has got you...

Selling Nexus Devices Directly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015359)

Google actually tried this about two years ago and failed with the Nexus One. Do they actually have plans to support these devices this time around?

When will Android actually be open? (0)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 2 years ago | (#40015379)

Looks like Android could potentially become open in the more traditional way, not just "Look it runs Linux and you can customize the home screen"; but from TFA it unfortunately sounds more like non-disclosure for a certain few.

Maybe it's time to fork Android into LibreAndroid.

CyanogenMod (2)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40015685)

Maybe it's time to fork Android into LibreAndroid.

That time was years ago, and the fork is called CyanogenMod.

Re:When will Android actually be open? (1)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | about 2 years ago | (#40016119)

Looks like Android could potentially become open in the more traditional way, not just "Look it runs Linux and you can customize the home screen"; but from TFA it unfortunately sounds more like non-disclosure for a certain few.

Android as an OS is open. Android as a consumer product is unfortunately usually restricted due to carriers and device manufacturers customising the OS and then dropping support for the device as soon as the next model comes along. This does suck, and as you say, hopefully this move by Google will help solve this issue.

Until that day...

Maybe it's time to fork Android into LibreAndroid.

You're free to do so but maybe it's just easier to install the massively popular CyanogenMod [cyanogenmod.com] .

Not convinced (4, Interesting)

Theophany (2519296) | about 2 years ago | (#40015395)

I'm not convinced of the likely success of this 'grand plan.' Consumers are used to paying next to no initial outlay for a handset on the understanding that it will be paid for through their carrier agreement and this has been the way for so long now that changing the way consumers view mobile devices and service plans is going to be a mammoth task. Not least for those who cannot justify dropping £400 on a device on the promise of future savings made from not having a fixed-term price plan of 18-24 months.

Besides which, Google have been selling Nexus phones unlocked, direct to the consumer for ages now. I nearly bought an HTC Nexus direct from Google back when they started the project years ago. All this pomp and ceremony because there will be no more Nexus exclusivity? Big whoop. Part of Android's beauty is that OEM customisations allow consumers to vote with their feet.

Re:Not convinced (1)

Threni (635302) | about 2 years ago | (#40015629)

None of that's going to change. This is another channel. OEM's can do what they like, but I can get:

a new phone (supported properly by the retailer, and not have the network only give me a 6 month warranty)

with proper Android (no trial version of crap games, or no future updates because this network, using that manufacturers phone, can't be bothered to do so even though other networks/manufacturers can),

updates as soon as they come out

unlocked bootloaders so I can put Cyanogenmod (and other ) roms on

more transparent pricing (I can pay £10 per month in the UK for unlimited data/texts and more minutes than I use - why the hell would I want to be locked into a 2 year contract and pay way over the odds for it?)

Re:Not convinced (2)

Theophany (2519296) | about 2 years ago | (#40015801)

Depends on how you define "paying over the odds."

Samsung Galaxy S3 is around £520 SIM Free for the 16Gb model. I got mine for free on a 24 month £36 per month contract. Sub out the cost I would face for the handset (36*24 = 864-520 = 344) then work out the monthly cost (344/24 = 14.3) and I'm paying less than £15 for unlimited calls, texts and data as well as not having to make a painful £520 purchase. I'll even admit that there are better deals out there right now, I just wanted to stay with my current network.

So that belief that you're saving a fortune by paying upfront whilst simultaneously accruing zero goodwill from your network by opting for their cheapest price plan is not the 'eureka moment' you seem to think it is.

Re:Not convinced (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015939)

goodwill from your network

Wait, you think this exists? I can "accrue goodwill" from that guy at the farmer's market that I buy from every week, or my independent motorcycle mechanic that knows me by name. The idea that you, as a single consumer, can "accrue goodwill" with a major cellphone carrier is delusional. You're a record in a database to them, and a millionth of a percent of their income.

Re:Not convinced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40016351)

Except that even Amazon sells the S3 for 500 GBP. If you could do with a 10 GBP/month contract just as well, over 2 years you pay 124 GBP or over 16 % for the priviledge of avoiding the one-time cost.
There are also other issues (which I don't know if they exist in the UK), for example that after those two years you have to either continue with that contract or pay another 100 pound to get the phone unlocked.
Even if you don't, how many people will switch contracts after 2 years?
It's not the world really, but I for me personally those plans mean paying extra to get extra inconvenience (no switching to a local SIM so you can actually use the internet while on holiday for example - even within the EU data roaming is something you can only afford if you won the lottery).

Initial outlay for a home PC (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40015705)

Consumers are used to paying next to no initial outlay for a handset on the understanding that it will be paid for through their carrier agreement

Why aren't home users used to paying next to no initial outlay for a home PC on the understanding that it will be paid for through their ISP agreement?

Re:Initial outlay for a home PC (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#40015807)

The tablet market is alluding to exactly what you describe. Here at least they are sold in the same way as phone contracts, with the phone company effectively being your ISP.

Re:Initial outlay for a home PC (1)

Theophany (2519296) | about 2 years ago | (#40015853)

Uh, have you been to PC World lately? They've been flogging craptops with that model for fucking years, dude. That was why demand in the market for 3G in the UK exploded.

PeoplePC (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40015893)

I know next to nothing about the wired home Internet market in Great Britain, but I haven't heard about that model lately in the USA. The last time I heard about ISP-subsidized PCs, it was over a decade ago and called PeoplePC.

Re:PeoplePC (2)

Theophany (2519296) | about 2 years ago | (#40015941)

The Atlantic would explain that then! Yeah, the ISP subsidised PC market has been around in the UK for quite a while now (I remember it really coming to prominence ~2007) and has remained since then. As thegarbz mentioned, this is now shifting from the low-end laptop market to the tablet market (although they seem to coexist at present), so you can walk into most wireless stores and walk out with a carrier-subsidised tablet now and a 24-month plan in your name.

Re:Not convinced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015745)

http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2853079&cid=40015663

I made a more fleshed out comment earlier, and won't repeat it all here, but I will say this. After 5 months of prepaid service, I will have saved enough to make up the difference in cost of the subsidized phone. In eight months, I will have paid for the phone. In two years, I will have saved $600 and feel great about buying another unlocked phone. People don't like the idea because of marketing, not math. Tell your family, tell your friends, and maybe you can save them some money too.

Re:Not convinced (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#40015799)

Not only that, but at least where I live carriers seem to apply penalties if you bring in your own phone and pre-pay. They bundle all sorts of deals such as free SMS, free social network traffic, excessive usage caps on voice, free voicemail, and other such things for what amounts to essentially paying the same amount as if I brought my own phone with me.

I remember going from pre-paid to a plan. I used to pay $40 / month, now I pay $43 / month. I went from a dumb phone to a smart phone which will be replaced every 18 months as long as I keep renewing the contract. I also now have all the benefits mentioned above.

Why would I pay for a phone outright?

Re:Not convinced (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about 2 years ago | (#40016273)

I pay 20 euro a month with loads of freebies. But you don't have that option .
Your mission if you chose to accept I it is to get the best deal you can . Hopefully you have at least two carriers to choose from.

Currently most. American cell companies suck because they don't have to compete much only by going with the best deals will you gain better deals further down the line.

If you don't make them fight for your money they will milk you all they can.

how does the warranty work? (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40015445)

with apple i can go into one of the 10 Apple stores in the NYC area and have a real life english speaking person look at my device and possibly exchange it on the spot.

google better not do it's regular retail FAIL where warranty/support is some internet forum where you get an answer in 3 days and have to send your phone somewhere hoping it won't get crapped on

Re:how does the warranty work? (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40015621)

I don't see any Google stores. So no, it's not going to be the same.

End users not living in a Major City (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40015729)

Nor do I see any Apple Retail Stores in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The closest thing in town is an independent Apple Authorized Retailer that sells Macs, and the closest Apple Retail Store is a hundred miles away. So to reach end users not living in a Major City(tm), Google and Apple are on the same playing field, having to sell their wares through electronics chains and independent mobile phone retailers.

Re:End users not living in a Major City (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015873)

Actually, your closest store is 70 miles away in Mishawaka, IN. Apple's store does have online chat and phone support, though, so it's more than just a random forum.

Re:End users not living in a Major City (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40015923)

Google Maps told me Mishawaka was 90 miles away. But it's still the difference between a cheap city bus and a far more expensive, far less often running Greyhound (or similar) bus.

what is the point if my bill is the same? (2)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40015473)

Europe is different but here in the US most carriers won't give you a break on the bill. i'm on a family plan and its A LOT cheaper than being on a single line plan so buying contract-free doesn't make sense for me.

Re:what is the point if my bill is the same? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015569)

T-Mobile or Cincinatti Bell

Re:what is the point if my bill is the same? (2)

Rytr23 (704409) | about 2 years ago | (#40015639)

This. I think T-Mobile did offer a break on a bring your own plan at one point, but none of the other carriers offer any discount for not using the subsidy. Also, are these "nexus" devices going to be cdma/gsm/evdo/hsdpa+/LTE + 8 Band units? No? What is the benefit of buying one exactly? I still can't switch carriers at will, I would only be able to switch between gsm carriers (Att/tmob) OR cdma carriers(vzw/sprint), and either VZW or Sprint could easily say no to them. It doesn't make much sense to do this unless you can buy a device with the right combo of tech/bands that will allow you to go to some shitty carrier like metro/cricket or a terrible prepaid plan on a big carrier, where the plans are cheap. If you want/need better service, ATT/VZW are your only two "real" options( Tmob/Sprint to a lesser extent), and you'd be losing money buying this type of device and not taking the subsidy.

Re:what is the point if my bill is the same? (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40015715)

yep

the AT&T and VZW family plan prices are cheap enough that i don't have any inclination to mess with the prepaid MVNO carriers in the US. and even with those some like to limit which phones they will allow on their network

and with family data bundle pricing coming this summer i don't see the point of this so called freedom of not having a contract

Competing with Never Been Laid Mobile (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40015761)

I think T-Mobile did offer a break on a bring your own plan at one point, but none of the other carriers offer any discount for not using the subsidy.

To compete with Virgin Mobile's $35/mo Beyond Talk plan, more carriers have been offering discounts on month-to-month service where the phone is purchased up front.

I thought their plan was: (-1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about 2 years ago | (#40015553)

Rush mobile OS to market full of flaws in V1.
Marginalize their OS on thousands of cheap and crappy hardware models to gain market share
Confuse developers by releasing new versions several times a year, changing SDK dramatically between each version so apps are hard to develop and rarely work between updates.
Allow cellular carriers and manufactures to control updates so that no two people on the planet have the same OS version or update.
Sit back and reap in the money generated knowing there is a large market of people that hate Apple who will buy whatever else...

Yup, Google pretty much ripped this plan straight from Microsoft.

Good move, if true (2)

neokushan (932374) | about 2 years ago | (#40015585)

I think the real reasoning behind this is that Manufacturers were probably getting somewhat disillusioned with Google's favouritism for the big Nexus device. It's not hard to see why, either - when HTC did the Nexus One, even though the N1 wasn't a huge success, HTC's other phones (particularly the HTC Desire, which is practically the same phone in a different design) garnered them record profits. When Samsung did the Nexus S, their next phone was the Galaxy S II - another runaway success.
No doubt getting a sneak peek at what's coming allows you to really plan ahead and hit the market with some leading devices. I'm sure LG, Motorola, ZTE and anyone else worth their salt would love a piece of that. Or at the very least, they'd love for Google to stop giving a major competitive advantage to one of their competitors.

Android Updates are Broken (4, Interesting)

MogNuts (97512) | about 2 years ago | (#40015671)

Let's hope that this fixes or mitigates the one flaw of android: no updates.

Let me precede with this: Android is the superior OS. iOS fanboys and others alike (i'll probably get modded down for this) will argue. But iOS is completely inferior to Android. But this is not to start a flamewar. The one thing where iOS kicks android's ass is updates and compatibility. And notice I said updates: iOS updates and security do not go hand in hand (withness the MYRIAD of exploits for iOS). But again not starting a flamewar here.

But Android gets no updates! Jesus christ. Just now, like 6 months later, are flagship models just a few months ago getting ICS. Make no mistake, if it was a dumbphone, who cares. But these are minuture computers. They need updates for security sake, if anything. Even though iOS isn't secure and has lots of exploits, at least they're patched in the next version. Android? Good luck. And the problem is that we keep more sensative data on our smartphone than our desktop.

Also is the compatibility. Close friend just got the official android phone, the galaxy nexus. And know what? Tetris, made by EA, didn't work a few times. And another app too, dropbox I believe. Not apps by little shit devs who don't have the resources to provide bugfixes. The fact that apps aren't compatible with the so-called official android flagship is pathetic.

I'm ranting because I want Android to fix this. It's a HUGE issue. And I can't vote with my feet because I'll never go back to the iPhone (had a 3GS). It's really like using a toy vs. a real OS*.

* example: iOS doesn't allow Firefox Mobile. Which is a godsend with its ability for add-ons like Adblock on a mobile phone. Or iOS doesn't have the ability to place files in a filesystem so that another application can use a file, like a movie or PDF I put on the phone.

Re:Android Updates are Broken (2)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 2 years ago | (#40015789)

I agree with you. That three year old 3GS you had, it still receives the latest iOS updates. Very few Android phones even gets half of that, if at all.

I think it's fair to say that iOS does less, but the things it do it tend to do better.

Re:Android Updates are Broken (1)

stewbee (1019450) | about 2 years ago | (#40016051)

I really think that your ire should be directed to who your cell phone manufacturer is and not with Google, per se.
http://theunderstatement.com/post/11982112928/android-orphans-visualizing-a-sad-history-of-support [theunderstatement.com]

And in a way, this makes sense. Companies don't make money on support. Once the product has shipped, they don't want to deal with it since they want to move on to the next "big" thing. This certainly makes Apple the odd ball here. Certainly, Motorola has a history of not providing too much support, but it appears that HTC at least makes a token effort to keep their stuff up to date.

Re:Android Updates are Broken (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#40016519)

That just isn't true in the terms you describe. My old Galaxy S still gets regular updates with feature improvements and any security fixes. Google actively maintains Gingerbread and Samsung actively supplies updates for what is a fairly old model now (Galaxy S 3 hits the shops later this month).

You are right about it taking a while for ICS to reach the GS2 and other high end phones from last year. That's the price you pay for the freedom to choose a handset and have a fairly open OS... You pays for money and takes your choice. If you must always be up to date then, like Apple phones for iOS, Google phones for Android are your only option.

Apple, meet PC Clone... (0)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#40015703)

Oh, you've already met? This is how Microsoft and PCs beat Apple in the 90s... Taipei was Jobs' Waterloo

Re:Apple, meet PC Clone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40016121)

And of all the PC manufacturers in the world at the time in the 90's, only Dell and HP are still in business while Apple is the valuable tech company in the world.

This whole move by google is an attemp to stop Samsung [phonearena.com] from running every android manufacturer out of business.

What about GPL? (2)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about 2 years ago | (#40015811)

I thought much of the Android code is GPL'ed. If they distribute early versions of Android to selected developers, wouldn't they also need to give away the Android source code to anyone else who demands it at that time?

Re:What about GPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40015991)

No. My understanding of the GPL is that you have to provide the code to end users/customers only. If they are only giving the binaries to the handset manufacturers, then they only have to give the code to the handset manufacturers. Once a handset using this code is actually released to the public, only then do they have to provide said code to the public. Just like if I download some GPL code, make changes, and then only use it on my machine. I never have to give anyone else the code, since I'm the only one using it. If I then put binaries of that up for others to take, THEN I would have to share the code.

Re:What about GPL? (1)

renrutal (872592) | about 2 years ago | (#40016057)

Android does distribute the GPL portion early, they don't do that for the non-GPL real Android stuff.

Re:What about GPL? (1)

limaxray (1292094) | about 2 years ago | (#40016069)

It's not, it's Apache. Plus, even if you release your code under a GPL, you are under no obligation to only release future version under the same license. Heck, you can release the same version under different licenses if you wanted, ala Qt. If you own the code, you dictate the license, not the other way around.

Now, they would need to release some GPL'd code that's not theirs, namely the Linux kernel and some utilities, but the bulk of it can be closed forever.

Re:What about GPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40016073)

Kernel is GPL'd, much of the rest of Android is Apache licensed.

Re:What about GPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40016239)

Google's modifications to the GPL'd part of the Android code are often available far before any devices, anyway (http://source.android.com/).

I don't know the exact wording of the GPL, but most device makers don't put out source until several weeks after they release the device anyway.

Re:What about GPL? (1)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | about 2 years ago | (#40016301)

Sadly, no - the only thing that's really GPL is the kernel itself. Google has stripped out all of the other "copyleft" (i.e. "share-alike") licensed components that you'd get with a more standard Linux environment and replaced them with stripped-down BSD/Apache dismissively-licensed ("Hey, I'm taking your work and messing with it and squeezing money out of people with it, but not sharing the changes or letting people interoperate, okay?" "Meh, whatever.")* components.

I've noticed that rooted phones often end up swapping GPL components back in, most notably busybox.

* Google doesn't actually approach things this way - they do eventually share their changes for people to experiment freely. They don't HAVE to, though, nor does any third-party corporation who might want to take and use the code. Fortunately an incompatible fork like that which would result is prevented from calling itself "Android" due to trademark restrictions, at least.

Catching up (1)

BerneAI (448306) | about 2 years ago | (#40015823)

and this is the way it has worked in Asia for quite some time. With devices sold from the start as unlocked the carriers are forced to compete for the business without the incentive of selling the devices...they actually have to provide/compete with each other and become price competitive...it's funny because all the money ATT and Verizon dump into the Tea Party, they may actually be forced to compete in an open market. Something that in the end scares them s less. they could be forced to act like real businesses. Wow what a concept.

Google to sell direct? That's a fail (1)

Snaller (147050) | about 2 years ago | (#40016085)

They've tried that before. And for most of us who access their shop we are told we can't buy, because we don't live in the right place. They don't have the money, or the brains, to do it all over - and then they fail

Like Apple? (1)

MrJones (4691) | about 2 years ago | (#40016291)

Wait! Google doing another "Apple move"? Unbelievable!
P.D.: sorry to start a fan war post :)

Jobs turning in his grave (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#40016579)

Yeah, if Jobs was upset by Google Android and all the Samsung devices, now that Google is unleashing "too many manufacturers to sue" upon the world, I can only imagine how this will pan out.

But more than that, Google is helping the consumer by releasing us from the carriers! It's my wildest dream come true. When the Galaxy S3 comes out, I was planning to buy the international version outright and not get locked into any contracts and expensive data plans which "pay for my subsidized phone" like 3 or 4 times over.

I'm tired of the carrier games in the US and I crave the kind of freedom they apparently enjoy in Europe. Google is changing the game and I can't imagine the carriers will be very accepting of it... but they have to in a way... they just don't have to give people 4G. But frankly, I don't need it most of the time... I have WiFi in most places I need. So "screw you!" carriers! I don't need a "$600 phone discounted to $300." I'll get a $400 device outright.

Also, anyone else notice the carriers offering insurance for these expensive hand-helds which only offer "refurbs"? Yeah... go with a home-owners or renters insurance policy and get your phone added onto that... they'll PAY the claim and you can get whatever you want... NEW. Also, insurers don't care if I root my phone! So once again, screw you carriers.

With ALL this happiness I am expressing, I have to say I still don't trust Google any further than I would trust any advertising/marketing company. My devices will be rooted and cleansed. So Google is enabling great things for me and "the consumer" and I celebrate it... but Google is still Google.

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