If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Google delays widespread open-sourcing of Honeycomb

New code already with large manufacturers, but smaller companies have to wait

Google has said that it will withhold the source code of the new Android iteration known as Honeycomb for the time being, telling press that it is not ready to be adapted to new devices yet.

The system was designed to operate on tablets, and large manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC already have their hands on Honeycomb's source code, however, Google says that it's not prepared to release it to companies looking to adapt it to other devices just yet.

"To make our schedule to ship the tablet, we made some design tradeoffs," Google's vp of engineering Andy Rubin told Business Week.

"We didn't want to think about what it would take for the same software to run on phones. It would have required a lot of additional resources and extended our schedule beyond what we thought was reasonable. So we took a shortcut."

Were the code to be adapted, Rubin said, it could well end up "creating a really bad user experience. We have no idea if it will even work on phones."

Previously, when earlier versions of Android were released as open source, many iterations ended up being adapted poorly to devices, giving the sort of poor user experience Rubin mentions.

Google's reputation as one of the biggest voices in the pro open source argument is unlikely to be completely untarnished by the restriction of Honeycomb, but Rubin was keen to point out that the decision doesn't represent a sea-change in policy for the tech giant, either.

"Android is an open-source project," Rubin reassured. "We have not changed our strategy."

Related topics
Dan Pearson avatar

Dan Pearson