When Google decided to come out and say that they will be withholding the Android 3.0 Honeycomb source code, it likely didn’t sit too well with some would-be porters, or those looking to install a custom ROM based off of the software. While it claims that porting Honeycomb to other devices may result in a poor user experience, Google will have to take some drastic measures to ensure it doesn’t happen.
Android 3.0 Honeycomb is made for tablets, and tablets only, at least in its current form. But, that hasn’t stopped some developers from bringing the new software to some smartphones via custom-baked ROMs. These custom ROMs are barely more than just proof of concept, and don’t actually work all that well, but the source code for Honeycomb would help change all that. Google may have some very good reasons as to why it has yet to release the code, but surely some developers are taking it as a dare.
Android developers and hackers have been spoiled in the sense that Google usually drops the source code into the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) shortly after the release of the SDK, or the flagship product running the software. However, we didn’t see that happen this time around, as the Motorola Xoom (the flagship Honeycomb tablet) has been available for about a month at this point and we still have yet to see the source code go live. The question isn’t whether Google will release the code, it’s when, and if it will have made some sort of tweaks to the code to inhibit it from running on phones.
If Google really intends to keep Honeycomb off of devices it wasn’t meant for, it will either need to implement a real way of blocking it, or give developers something else to work with. This could come in the form of the next version of Android made for phones, but even then, it would be hard to believe that someone out there wouldn’t be actively trying to port the OS to a smaller device it wasn’t meant to run on. We’ve seen desktop operating systems running on phones, so you best believe that Honeycomb will make it there, unless big G does something to stop it.
Honeycomb likely needs some more tweaking on the back-end of things before Google releases it to the public. The main concern may not even be the porting of the OS, but that it needs an OEM’s touch, or a considerable amount of extra work for it to function as you see it on the Xoom, or other Honeycomb tablets that will become available very soon. Whatever the case may be, if it’s possible, Android 3.0 will be ported to every device a developer is willing to put the effort into. In that aspect, Google can’t do much to stop it.
Personally, I believe this is less of an issue than some may make it out to be. Google will release the source code when every it sees fit. This should please developers, and those who want some Honeycomb-goodness on their “unsupported” devices. The only way I could see this leaving a bad taste in someone’s mouth is if Google does indeed somehow block the ability to bring this version of the OS to phones. I don’t see that happening, but anything is possible.
Google, get with it!