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Android is a dead end
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-07-16 23:26:41

Dieter Bohn at The Verge:

So while Microsoft didn't do itself any favors, I'd argue strongly that all these machinations and flailings weren't a response (or weren't only a response) to the iPhone. The real enemy was the company that had set its sights on Microsoft's phone ambitions since before the iPhone was released.

That company was Google, of course, and it only tangentially wanted to take on the iPhone. Google's real target was always Microsoft, and it hit the bullseye.

This article looks at the past, so let me take this opportunity to posit something that might come as a surprise to some.

Android is a dead end.

I really want to write a far more detailed and in-depth article explaining why I think Android is a dead end, but I can't yet fully articulate my thoughts or pinpoint why, exactly, I've felt like this for months now. All this doesn't mean Google is going to get out of mobile operating systems, and it doesn't even mean that the name "Android" is going away. All it means is that what we think of today as "Android" - a Linux kernel with libraries, the Android Runtime, and so on on top - has served its hackjob, we-need-to-compete purpose and is going to go away.

Android in its current form suffers from several key architectural problems - it's not nearly as resource-efficient as, say, iOS, has consistent update problems, and despite hefty hardware, still suffers from the occasional performance problems, among other things - that Google clearly hasn't been able to solve. It feels like Android is in limbo, waiting for something, as if Google is working on something else that will eventually succeed Android.

Is that something Fuchsia? Is Project Treble part of the plan, to make it easier for Google to eventually replace Android's Linux base with something else? If Android as it exists today was salvageable, why are some of the world's greatest operating systems engineers employed by Google not working on Android, but on Fuchsia? If Fuchsia is just a research operating system, why did its developers recently add actual wallpapers to the repository? Why does every design choice for Fuchsia seem specifically designed for and targeted at solving Android's core problems?

I don't like making broad predictions based on gut feelings and spidey senses, since they can be incredibly misleading and hard to read, but I'm still pretty confident on this one: over the coming two to three years, Android will undergo a radical transformation. This transformation will be mostly transparent to users - their next Android phone won't actually be "Android" anymore, but still run the same applications, and they literally won't care - but it won't be a Linux device, and it won't suffer from Android's core problems.

In a few years, Google's Pixel phone will have a fully custom, Google-designed SoC, and run an operating system that is Android in brand name only.

Bookmark this.

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Oracle is causing this
By jonsmirl on 2017-07-16 23:59:46
What you are perceiving is a side effect of the Oracle litigation. If Oracle was out of the picture Chromebooks would fully embrace Android apps. The Chromebook world would become a windowed Android system and a lot of innovation would occur. But the Oracle litigation prevents Google form doing much in that direction.

If that world was allowed to exist (Oracle is stopping it) XWindows might wither away and Linux users would switch onto this new GUI system. I'd love to develop Android apps as if they were native apps.

Updating Android is an orthogonal issue. Google should just lay down the law and tell their OEMs to mainline their kernel code or no Android license. Then Google would be able to build their images and push updates to the devices. The OS is not the problem, vendors closing up source code is real problem. Then when the vendor fails to act no one can do it for them.

Edited 2017-07-17 00:00 UTC
Permalink - Score: 5
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Not linux that is holding it back.
By bram on 2017-07-17 00:28:38
I am an app dev.
Yes, Android is a dead end.
But it is not linux that is holding it back.
It is all that java crap on top of it.
And they made NDK a 2nd class citizen.
Permalink - Score: 9
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Dead end... and dead start.
By sergio on 2017-07-17 00:46:10
Android was, is and will be horrible.
Permalink - Score: -1
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You Contradict Yourself
By dcdevito on 2017-07-17 00:47:31
"This transformation will be mostly transparant to users"

If this is true, then it isn't a dead end is it? And transparent is spelled incorrectly.

I tell you what a dead end is...and non mobile friendly website like osnews...amirite?!
Permalink - Score: 7
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RE: Oracle is causing this
By unclefester on 2017-07-17 01:18:16
> Google should just lay down the law and tell their OEMs to mainline their kernel code or no Android license.

Google has almost no power to control anyone. The majority of Android devices (the Chinese market) don't use Google services. Their is also nothing stoppkng the big OEMs from forking Android or replacing the Google sevices with another suite of services. (MS could even produce their own version of Android with Hotmail, Here Maps, Bing etc.)

Edited 2017-07-17 01:19 UTC
Permalink - Score: 3
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RE: You Contradict Yourself
By judgen on 2017-07-17 01:24:08
There is the mobile site if you need it. I personally detest all mobile sites when using my phone to surf the web and only want the desktop version. I have to use several ugly hoops to make sure no mobile sites is ever shown on my end.
Permalink - Score: 3
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RE[2]: You Contradict Yourself
By WorknMan on 2017-07-17 01:54:37
> I personally detest all mobile sites when using my phone to surf the web and only want the desktop version.

I actually want to go the opposite direction and have mobile versions of sites load on my desktop. (Well, not the ones that are more like apps, but the content-centric sites.) The mobile versions seem to have all the content I came for, with 10x less crap on top.
Permalink - Score: 3
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The Chromebook Android merger is here
By rafial on 2017-07-17 04:54:03
"If Oracle was out of the picture Chromebooks would fully embrace Android apps. The Chromebook world would become a windowed Android system"

I was at Google I/O this year, and this is exactly what was presented at the "Android Apps on ChromeOS" session. In fact, I've been using the flagship device for this approach (the Samsung Chromebook Pro) for almost a month now. And my take-away is this:

Android as an OS is at this point is more complete, usable, and mature than ChromeOS. Given a choice between a Chrome app and an Android app, the Android app is always better. Android properly handles high density screens, ChromeOS is still limping along on hacks. Android handles touch better, Android is a better tablet OS. Android, as of Nougat, is a better window manager.

I like the Chromebook Pro as a device, but having come to it from a Pixel C, my frequent wish is "why doesn't this thing just run pure Android."

I still think that ChromeOS + Android has value, because ChromeOS has a huge presence in the education market, and can be managed in a classroom in ways that Android currently can't, but as an general OS for an all-in-one device, Android doesn't need ChromeOS.
Permalink - Score: 5
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Comment by timdp
By timdp on 2017-07-17 06:42:54
> In a few years, Google's Pixel phone will have a fully custom, Google-designed SoC, and run an operating system that is Android in brand name only.
Depending on what you mean by "a few", I'd argue that Google's concern is that Android's good enough for phones for now, but that it doesn't provide them with enough headroom for IoT and ubiquitous computing. For me, that's what they're really aiming at with projects like Fuchsia. By the time that stuff hits the market, the smartphone hopefully won't already be a silly relic of the past.

Edited 2017-07-17 06:43 UTC
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE: You Contradict Yourself
By Brendan on 2017-07-17 06:57:56
Hi,

> "This transformation will be mostly transparant to users"

If this is true, then it isn't a dead end is it?


I'd assume the article is suggesting that the current implementation of Android (based on Linux) is a dead end (and will be replaced by a new implementation, based on Fuschia).

The fact is that the Linux kernel isn't ideal for multiple reasons; including GPL (phone manufacturers want closed source drivers that don't break when the kernel is updated, and have been doing "drivers in user-space on a monolithic kernel that was never designed for drivers in user-space" as an ugly work-around); and including the fact that Linux was designed for *nix servers (lots of fluff that doesn't make sense for smartphone and things like power management retro-fitted as an afterthought).

- Brendan
Permalink - Score: 2

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