Pichai saying that #Android is an open platform...for mobile carriers.

Hmm, that sounds about right. open to preinstall any kind of crapware you can and cannot imagine.

@MatejLach how is that different from any other open system (say, GNU/Linux) though?


The difference in my mind is whether something is open for any kind of purpose, (GNU/Linux), or whether there's plenty of handicaps in the system itself, so they're not opposed to not being "open" (Android) - they're specifically targeting carriers for this "openness"

Can GNU/Linux be (mis)used for anything because oh how open it is? Sure.

By default however it does not specifically target carriers and presents itself as a vehicle for their crapware.


The PinePhone for example (GNU/Linux) is way more open than any Android I ever used.

@MatejLach PinePhone is a hardware device; Android is an OS.

You can criticize Android in that it's not as open to users as GNU/Linux (say, it doesn't give you root access by default). But if you're talking openness to vendors, GNU/Linux provides just as much opportunities for the vendor to preinstall crapware — see the whole Canonical/Ubuntu/Amazon/Snap shitshow. So *that* is not a fair critique of Android.

@bugaevc #Android specifically dictates certain hardware requirements in order to get certified by Google and allow the Play Store on.
Android is far from a pure software platform.

As for Ubuntu installing crap I mentioned that due to GNU/Linux being open, sure it can be misused. But the GNU project isn't making stuff with a plan to go to OEMs and carriers and say "look, our software allows you to preinstall adware for your customers".

Google specifically markets Android to OEMs that way.


Additionally, it is super easy to switch from Ubuntu while keeping the hardware one already has.

Can I officially install another OS on most Android HW?

@MatejLach certification Google requires from OEMs to install Play Store != Android, though it's related.

You can install alternative OSes on most phones that ship with Android, but good luck with finding drivers. And then again, this is about hardware OEMs ship, not about Android.


Saying that "You can install alternative OSes on most phones that ship with Android, but good luck with finding drivers.." is a bit of a copout honestly, that's literally true for any hardware, including my microwave.

The question is how easy is it and is it officially supported?

With the #PinePhone it is. With Android HW, including Google's own Pixel it is not.

@MatejLach once again, Android is a (free, open, Linux-based) operating system, PinePhone is a hardware device — you're comparing apples to oranges. And you can't attributes closedness of "Android HW" to Android the OS. Blame chipset vendors and OEMs for not making drivers accessible for a larger group of OSes.

@bugaevc This is playing semantics. These OEM policies are not "an accident". They're required by Google, who also makes Android, the OS. To pretend that they're disconnected and in isolation is silly.

Google uses the Android platform to strong-arm OEMs into making their HW a certain way.

Also, Android's only "open" in the code across the wall/code dump sense. It's not like non-Google employees can really drive the platform features.

Nothing like say the GNU project.

@MatejLach @bugaevc The whole reason Android is "open source" is because Google knows you can't use it. Mobile hardware is super proprietary and under NDA, and they've locked down the software market. If PCs and PC software were that locked down, Microsoft could have open sourced Windows and it wouldn't have affected their business at all. What Google is doing now with Android is pretty much indistinguishable from what MS was doing with Windows and PC OEMs that got them slapped by the govt.

@MatejLach @bugaevc FWIW, though, this is not how Android started out. At first, the intent behind Android was the same as the intent behind Chrome, which was to move the state of the industry forward so that they could do more interesting things with the web. Remember at the time we had feature phones, WAP, and Windows Mobile. IE was probably the best mobile browser at the time overall.

@MatejLach @bugaevc But then all the OEMs started using Android and Google started making money on the Play Store and mobile ads. Which is not really two things: a huge fraction of mobile ad spend is for app installs, which means the vast majority of that revenue is coming through the Play Store. And Facebook started eating into Google's ad revenue, while Google's repeated attempts to kill Facebook kept failing.

@MatejLach @bugaevc Meanwhile, the quality of Android got really, really bad because the carriers were doing a really lousy job of pushing out updates. Which started to push users to Apple in markets where Android had been doing pretty well. But since Android was "free software", there was little Google could do to keep the carriers inline. So they gave the manufacturers a choice: keep using (or fork) AOSP and lose the Play Store and (I think) updates, or switch to the new Android scheme.

@MatejLach @bugaevc Meanwhile, companies were already working on Android forks, and there were competing stores, so of course Google had to keep the deal as sweet as possible for the carriers and OEMs, hence allowing all the crapware. After all, the OEMs and carriers compete largely on price, so they can only really increase profits by monetizing the hell out of their users.


@freakazoid @MatejLach @bugaevc Another factor encouraging the "bloatware" added to many Android phones:

The OEMs want to be prepared in case this sweet deal falls through, but Google insists as part of their take-it-or-leave-it deal (which includes some "must-haves" like the Google Play Store) that they include proprietary Google Apps.

So many Android phones include both the OEM's own & Google's, e.g. calander, apps. To be prepared.

@alcinnz @freakazoid @MatejLach @bugaevc (not so) fun fact: the deal requires oems to put a chrome shortcut prominently on the home screen

@alcinnz @MatejLach @bugaevc That's a good point. The OEMs don't want to be fully dependent on Google. That's also something that makes Android attractive to them, though I wonder how much longer that'll be the case.

I suspect 5G will be even worse. One's best bet will probably be to take the PinePhone route and use a standalone baseband chip as a modem in order to avoid all that proprietary garbage.

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