Android Closed-Source Dependencies Removed

Google Roll Out Android 2.2

Jessica Thornsby

‘Froyo’ introduces security-minded and UI updates, and removes dependencies on closed-source software.

Google have announced that Nexus One users will now begin
to receive the latest version of the Android software – 2.2,
codenamed ‘Froyo’ – as an over-the-air software update. This update
will be rolled out gradually, with most users expected to receive
the download notification by the end of the week.

This release comes with a list of new features, including a
number of updates to the Home screen. The 2.2 Home screen will
feature a ‘screen tips widget’ aimed at helping new users configure
their shortcuts and widgets, and general appearance of their home
screen. The Phone, applications Launcher and Browser also have
dedicated shortcuts on the Home screen.

There are also a number of security-minded updates. Security
conscious users can implement a numeric pin or an alpha-numeric
password to unlock the device, and ‘exchange administrators’ can
reset the device remotely, to ensure data remains private should
the Android device be lost or stolen.

The gallery stack now features a so-called ‘zoom gesture,’ and a
new UI for controlling camera functionality such as flash, focus
and exposure. Multi-lingual users can now add multiple languages to
the keyboard and switch between several Latin-based input

This release sees Google open sourcing some of the previously
closed-source hardware-related libraries, including the recovery UI
code for Dream, Sapphire and Passion. More information on the
Platform Highlights‘ is available at the
Android Developers blog.

In a blog post, Jean-Baptiste Queru, discusses the
release as happening in a “single step,” meaning that the entire
Android 2.2 is now available, with full change history. It is also
already merged into the open source master tree. “We can
immediately review and accept platform contributions based on
Froyo. That will therefore reduce the risk of merge conflicts
between contributions to the open-source tree and changes in
Google’s internal master tree where those contributions are meant
to end up,” he writes.

There have been some changes to the structure of the source
code. According to Jean-Baptiste Queru, the source tree has been
restructured with the hope of more clearly defining closed-source
Android modules from open source ones, and Google have made an
effort to remove dependencies on closed-source software. All of the
configuration files necessary to build the source code of Android
Open Source Project, are now included in the core platform.

Moving beyond the source code, Google have created two new
official Google Groups related to Android: Android-building for discussing build issues, and
Android-contrib for discussing possible future

“With Android 2.2 now being available to the open-source world,
and with the review process working smoothly, I’m looking forward
to seeing a lot more high-quality contributions that will be used
to build future versions of Android,” concludes Queru.

Android 2.3 – aka Gingerbread – is currently set for a Q4 2010

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