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Google releases Android source code

Google releases Android source code

If you'd like to port Android to your existing smartphone to alleviate G1 shortages, now's the time.

If you're more interested in the potential of hacking Android itself around, rather than simply playing with a pre-made handset running a stock version of Google's mobile platform, then I've got some good news: yesterday, the project official went open source.

According to a post on the official Android Open Source Project blog, the teams at Google and the Open Handset Alliance have finally released all the code for the mobile platform just ahead of the official retail availability of the first commercial product to use the system, the T-Mobile G1. Describing the project as “a complete, end-to-end software platform that can be adapted to work on any number of hardware configurations”, Android's Dave Bort is hoping that the little platform that could will get a wider acceptance outside the smartphone market.

With the Android system taking the form of a customisable, mobile-oriented embedded Linux platform there's certainly a wide scope for applications. While the bulk of the development so far has been on making a workable smartphone, there's certainly nothing to stop hackers taking the platform in entirely new directions – and Google is, of course, hoping to profit from such innovation, asking anyone with “a great idea for a new feature” to add it to the Android source.

The bad news for fans of the popular GPL open source licence is that the Android project has opted to use the rather more commercially friendly Apache 2.0 licence. Although parts of the code are GPLv2 compliant – such as core Linux code taken in from other sources – any development work the teams have performed themselves is Apache 2.0 licensed. As a further legal CYA, Google is asking contributors to sign a legal contract granting the company irrevocable and world-wide rights to distribute and commercially exploit changes made to the Android source.

If you do fancy a hack around with Android, you'll need a Linux or MacOS X system – the source can't be compiled on a Windows box at the moment, although should the system take off this is likely to change. That said, if you're developing a Linux-based platform it's probably a good idea to be doing said development on another Linux-based platform.

With the entire source tree made available for hackers to play with, I predict we will be seeing a lot more Android-based devices on the market in the very near future – and not just mobile 'phones. Could the first Android-based netbook be just around the corner? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

5 Comments

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War-Rasta 22nd October 2008, 17:09 Quote
Sounds pretty interesting to me. Not so thrilled about granting google rights to commercially exploit any changes made to it but I still think we will be seeing a lot of interesting features in the near future.
Tulatin 22nd October 2008, 20:12 Quote
Well, at least this means the killswitch can be removed.
DXR_13KE 23rd October 2008, 00:16 Quote
YAY FOR OPEN SOURCE!!!
DLoney 23rd October 2008, 05:02 Quote
time to take that code and make a yahoo version of the os
themax 23rd October 2008, 21:22 Quote
I've read some reviews concerning Android and the G1 Mobile Phone that is currently using it. And I have to say, some of these reviewers seem to have totally missed the point of Android. I keep reading that a downside to the G1/Android is the lacking Exnchange Syncing features found most other Smartphones/Iphone. Yet...if I recall (and I will do some digging for the article) someone has already released a 3rd Party App on the Andorid Marketplace that will enable the phone to sync Outlook contacts.

Please, whoever at Bit-Tech does a review on a smartphone releasing over in Europe with Android, remember that what the phone may lack out of the box, might potentially have available for downloaded already by a 3rd Party Developer.
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