Its Android One partnerships mean Google no longer has to put its eggs in one basket, and also make sure that local OEMs stick with Android as Google envisages it, not as handset makers and operators would have it. Google seems to have been increasingly trying to reduce others’ influence on the operating system — banning the customisation of Auto, TV, and Wear; wrestling Samsung over its Magazine UI; and gradually withdrawing its support for the AOSP version of Android.
Android One is just the next step in that progression. Google is using the lure of a turnkey mobile platform to get everyone else in the value chain to give up hope of tweaking Android for their own ends. While most handsets in developed markets use the GMS version of Android, which puts Google’s services front and centre, in the developing world AOSP — the original open source Android that can be forked and adapted at will — is far more prevalent. Google has been slowly allowing AOSP to wither and has now stepped in with Android One an alternative — an alternative that puts Android back under its control and its services back in users’ eyelines.
Boldfaced emphasis added by me.
I’d like to know how much of that is observation and speculation and how much is based on what Google has said to the writer behind-the-scenes.
How can I reconcile that with Google and Intel’s tablet reference design? Here’s that quote again:
Our friends at Google appreciate it too. “It’s exciting to see Intel bring their years of expertise in reference designs to Android in order provide high-quality Android tablets and speed up time-to-market for manufacturers,” said Hiroshi Lockheimer, VP of Engineering for Android, Google. “The result of this program will be devices powered by Intel’s technologies, together with an operating system that is up-to-date and includes popular apps from Google such as Chrome, Maps and YouTube, offering a great overall user experience.”
As far as I know, the Android that Intel supplies to its Chinese partners is based on AOSP and a fork to run on Intel CPUs.
So what’s going on here?
Has Intel taken over a fork of AOSP with Google’s blessing because Intel is including Google Services?
Or has Google created an Android-for-Intel version of Android?
I’d sure like to know!
And what does this mean for Chinese tablet makers adding things such as tUI, the iFive skin, Teclast split-screening, and Rockchip MultiWindow? Will they be going away as word is passed from Google to Intel to the Chinese to cease and desist?
I have to say I’d hate to see that. I’m not fan of the iOS-like skins of the Chinese, but how long do we have to wait for Google to get off its ass to offer spilt-screening or MultiWindow? Does Apple have to do it in iOS first before Google just copies it?
And what good does such OS standardization do, anyway? Users can just put another launcher and other customizations. Or will Google crack down on those too?
And what about Xiaomi, which uses Android AOSP for its phones and the MiPad?
There’s a collision ahead in the future.