Cheers to all Android lovers. It’s indeed a great news since the source code of the much awaited Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is now available to the common public that is you and me. Google software engineer Jean-Baptiste Queru announced that Android 4.0 source code has been released out to Android Open Source Project, a version control database, for the public to download.
Ice Cream Sandwich, otherwise known as Android 4.0 is the latest version of Google’s OS developed for mobile phones and tablets. This is the full release of Android 4.0 is supposed to get board on the upcoming Galaxy Nexus handset that was unveiled at an event in Hong Kong last month. ICS has been a pretty significant update since it puts Android phones and tablets together in an unified environment.
Google had previously withheld the source code of the tablet-centric version of Honeycomb, providing access only to selected partners. According to Google, the software was held back since it was unsuitable for widespread availability thereby undermining the company’s early claims about the extent of Android’s openness. Thus independent Android community were prevented from building custom ROMs for devices such as Motorola Xoom. Hence the availability of ICS source code marks an important event in history as it is for the first time that Google’s tablet code has been opened to public scrutiny.
Today’s ICS code drop technically includes the Honeycomb source code since ICS was developed on top of Honeycomb code tree. According to Queru, the release consists of the full history of android source code tree that obviously includes all the source code for Honeycomb releases. But because Honeycomb was a bit incomplete everyone should concentrate more on Ice Cream Sandwich. . Thus Google has been careful enough to discourage third party developers from creating Honeycomb builds of Android by not tagging the specific Honeycomb releases.
Android 4.0 code is now available but two things are to be noted here. First the code is huge and it will take a couple of hours to transfer over. Secondly, if you try to synchronize it now you will end up in building nothing. Hence it’s best to wait for word from Google that it has finished pushing out. Moreover the code has been configured only for Galaxy Nexus and it is definitely going to take some time before it is configured for other phones as well.
Hopefully the source code released will significantly ease the tensions between Google and third party Android platform development community. Publishing the code even before the availability of the first Android 4.0 device is indeed an admirable improvement over Google’s previous Android code release practices. However Google has the ability to withhold code for any give release as it deems fit as the actual Android development occurs behind closed doors. Changes in governance are still required to establish Android as a truly open project considering publishing the ICS code as a welcome move.