Google and its chums at the Open Handset Alliance have just announced the availability of the Android platform source code to everyone, for free, under the new Android Open Source Project.
Google hopes that by making the source code available, it will accelerate the development of apps and other add-ons as well as enabling interested developers to contribute to and further the appeal of Android itself.
It also means that mobile operators and handset manufacturers will also be able to wade into the code that powers their handsets.
Everyone's a winner
"As an open source project, anyone can contribute to Android and influence its direction," said Google in a statement. Anyone can download, build, and run the code needed to create a complete mobile device. This represents the first truly open and fully featured mobile platform, which will enable people to create a mobile device without restrictions, build applications that run on Android-powered devices, and contribute to the core platform."
"Open source allows everyone and anyone equal access to the ideas and innovation that can make good products great," said Andy Rubin, senior director of mobile platforms, Google. "An open sourced mobile platform, that's constantly being improved upon by the community and is available for everyone to use, speeds innovation, is an engine of economic opportunity and provides a better mobile experience for users."
Faster to market
The Open Handset Alliance says the move will result in "faster, cheaper and more innovative devices and services" and that hardware compatibility will also speed up as a result of the move – in other words, devices will be able to come to market far more quickly. "Handset manufactures can access a complete, full featured mobile stack without any barriers and get a head-start on creating as contemporary a device that they want to build," it says.
"Developers for the first time can contribute code, with a full set of APIs that allows the platform to host applications written by third-party developers and carriers can offer faster, cheaper and more innovative devices and services."
The OHA says consumers will start to see more applications like location-based travel tools, games and social networking offerings available to them directly; cheaper and faster phones at lower costs; and a better mobile web experience through 3G networks with richer screens.
The code can be found under the Android Open Source Project, the open source initiative for Android now available at source.android.com.
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