Google Android boss Andy Rubin has finally made it clear: Google Android 3.x Honeycomb source code will not be released to the public. The company has been making the source code available to some tablet manufacturers, but while source code for all earlier versions of Android were eventually added to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), Google has no plans to the same with Honeycomb.
Instead, we’ll have to wait until the 4th quarter of the year when Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich is released. That will be the first version of Android designed to run on tablets, Google TV devices, and phones.
The problem is that Google doesn’t think Honeycomb is well suited for smartphones and rather than trust that device makers and hackers will figure that out for themselves or write code to make up for any problems, Google is only making the code available to companies developing tablets which meet Google’s specifications.
That hasn’t stopped hackers from grabbing code from the Android Software Developer Kit for Honeycomb and porting a version of the operating system to run on existing products. But since the source code hasn’t been publicly released, hackers and independent developers don’t have the kind of deep system access required to really do things right.
Just to be clear — Google isn’t required to released the source code for Android. The operating system is based on open source code, but it doesn’t bear the type of license that requires all code to be shared with the public, and as Andy Rubin points out, there’s a difference between open source projects and community-driven projects. Android has always been one of the former.