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Google withholding Android 3.0 Honeycomb from developers

News by Dan Seifert on Friday March 25, 2011.

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Google has restricted the access to version 3.0 Honeycomb of its operating system to large manufacturers that have a special agreement with the company to produce tablets running Honeycomb. This means that developers and smaller companies will not be able to put Honeycomb on devices of their choosing, including porting it to phones.

Google claims that the software is not ready for outside developers to work on and that it is not suitable to be altered and customized for devices such as phones yet. Android 3.0 Honeycomb was developed to run on tablets and specifically compete with Apple's iPad. Andy Rubin, vice-president for engineering at Google and head of its Android group states "to make our schedule to ship the tablet, we made some design tradeoffs. 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."

This shortcut is coming at the expense of the small-time developers and manufacturers who do not have a special relationship with Google. Accustomed to receiving the source code and development environments just a few months after the big manufacturers such as Motorola, HTC, and Samsung, they will now have to wait longer before they can produce devices and customize the software. Currently, there is no timeline given as to when the software will be available for all, but we expect it will be at least another few months before it sees the light of day.

Rubin continues to say that if Google were to release the Honeycomb software now, it could not prevent developers from putting it on a litany of devices - including phones. "We have no idea if it will even work," says Rubin. Google is concerned with presenting a bad user-experience with software that is not completely finished.

Google claims that Android will continue to be an open source project as it has been in the past, and the search giant is committed to eventually releasing the source code of the software to the public. We are not entirely surprised with Google's actions here, as our experience with Honeycomb on the Motorola XOOM has shown it to be somewhat buggy. While it does show some great concepts and potential, it could certainly benefit from further development and refinement before hitting the mass market of developers. We do not expect this news to stop the larger manufacturers from releasing tablets with Honeycomb, however, as we have just seen quite a few shown off at CTIA 2011 that are expected to hit the market soon. [via Business Week]

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About the author

Dan Seifert
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.

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