Does it matter that Google's Pixel phones aren't open source?

Also in today's open source roundup: See Google's official promotional video for its new Pixel phones, and is Google trying to become Apple?


Does it matter if Google's Pixel phones are open source?

Google’s new Pixel phones are getting lots of attention in the media, with many Android users wondering if they should upgrade to them.

But one Linux redditor recently wondered if Google’s Pixel phones can still be considered open source at this point. For some folks this might be an important point, while others couldn't care less. And Google itself has made no claim that its phones run purely open source software.

The redditor's comments drew some interesting responses from his fellow Linux users who shared their thoughts:

Veganchickntendies: “It seems like Google is approaching Apple’s mentality more and more where they control and integrate everything. Also, their software seems to become more and more proprietary by the day.

Is there any hope left for an open-source phone?”

11014: “It’s based (roughly) on AOSP, so at least basics (minus the google play stuff) will still be open source, which is why cyanogenmod 14 is a thing.

But I agree, things are not moving in a promising direction.”

Lukejr: “No phone I’m aware of has ever been open source, at least out of the box. The closest would probably be OpenMoko and/or Qt’s Greenphone (and soon, the Dragonbox Pyra), but these are an exception to the rule, and none run Android-related systems.”

Noobfl: “No, it can’t…the radio/baseband is closed source, even the bootloader is not open source, the drivers either…and all the google apps and functions are closed source…just the core parts of android (aosp) are open source.”

Wolf3D: “No phone will be fully open source any time soon.

This is due to the baseband radio {CDMA/GSM/LTE} need locked down and technically another computer running independently in your phone.

Even if somebody makes a baseband radio that is full open source it will not get approval from FCC {or the equivalent in other countries} since it could be modified to work outside of the approved legal frequencies and transmit power.”

MIstamurpheh610: “I’m just patiently waiting for the Ubuntu Touch Nexus 6 port to be finished.”

Cc35359: “KDE plasma mobile with a cyanogenmod base does work on the n6, but it is not fun to put together. (

But Ubuntu touch does have boot/screen/touch working, so that’s a start at least.”

Veganchikntendies: “I want Ubuntu Touch to happen so bad, but I feel like it is just dead or dying…”

Hellscyth: “It’s not that it’s dead, it just hasn’t launched yet. It’s still waiting on mir/wayland and snaps/flatpacks. Along with trying to get shashlik ready. Once the groundwork has been laid it will launch.”

More at Reddit

Google’s official Pixel promotional video

In case you missed it, here’s Google’s official promotional video for its new Pixel phones:

And here’s another video with some first impressions of Google’s Pixel phones:

Is Google trying to become Apple?

The release of the Pixel phones has some folks wondering if Google is trying to emulate Apple by trying to gain more control over hardware and software integration.

Vlad Savov reports for The Verge:

Today, Tuesday, October 4th is Google’s biggest hardware event, all the leaks will tell you, with everything from a pair of “by Google” smartphones to Google Home smart speakers, new wireless routers, and a 4K Chromecast. But the overriding thing that Google will try to sell us is its vision of integrating that multiplicity of physical gadgets and trinkets into its digital empire of software and services. Just like Apple.

Google’s competition with Apple has always been asymmetric because that other California company has been able to control and fine-tune both the hardware and the operating system of its world-conquering iPhones and iPads. The Android alternative, as good as Google might try to make it, just can’t match the iPhone’s level of polish, coherence, and refinement, because the devices running it are out of Google’s hands. Today, Google is going to grasp that thorny issue by investing itself fully into the business of being a phone maker as well as software provider.

The full cachet of the Google brand will be leveraged for a marketing campaign built around “made by Google” and “phone by Google” messages. It’s shaping up to be an abandonment of the Nexus program, which was practically a hobby inside Google HQ, in favor of what looks like a more serious and integrated approach to Google’s long-term mobile strategy.

What Google is aiming to do today is to become the world’s second Apple. By controlling the hardware on which Android runs, Google can emulate Apple’s leading example by synchronizing its software and hardware improvements — so that they complement and support one another — and it can also offer up a reliable platform for developers to build on. Consider how nascent Google Daydream is, and consider also the consequently high level of risk for any serious developer to invest time and effort into developing for it. An iPhone-like tier of Google-certified premium Android smartphones — with VR made integral to the OS — provides at least some reassurance and risk mitigation for prospective Android VR devs. That anti-fragmentation concern is evident in Google’s choice of closely matched, almost identical specs between the 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL.

More at The Verge

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