Android really isn’t open, it’s up to Google

“Real” Android:

What are “real” Android devices. These are what Google would call “Android compatible” devices. These are Android devices that have passed a technical test, one Google hopes allows those who buy the devices to be assured that Android apps will run correctly.

Passing the test allows the device maker to ask permission for two key things: the use of the the Android trademark and access to the Google Play app and content store. Android’s FAQ page about compatibility is a fascinating document that explains more about this.

You don’t just get to have these two things. Compatibility is a prerequisite for seeking further permission, permission which is processed as best I can tell by Google itself.

This all leads back to the idea that Android really isn’t open. If it’s up to Google, ultimately, to decide which products are Android-logo worthy, which products can have access to the app and content store, that’s not an open process.

“Fake” Android:

To recap, we’ve got two major types of Android devices out there, “Android compatible” as Google would say or “real Android” as I would say. Everything else is “fake” Android, as I’d put it. That’s a lot easier to understand than terms like:

  • ASOP Android
  • Forked Android
  • Non-Compatible Android

The last makes me laugh. It’s possible to have an Android device that might run Android apps better than “compatible” devices yet still be deemed “non-compatible” simply because the maker didn’t use the test.