Keeping Google’s Android Honest

I just want to start off by urging anyone who is writing open source applications for the Android mobile platform to release their applications under the GNU General Public License V3.

The Open Handset Alliance is about to wrap up the first round of the Android Developer Challenge and they’re ready to deliver tons of money in rewards for application development.

What OHA hasn’t delivered any source code for their Apache 2 licensed platform and even when they do they have made no guarantees that you’ll have the freedom to run modified versions of it on your devices. It is certainly possible and not highly unlikely that OHA could release Android’s core libraries under the Apache 2 license, but require a signed version of those libraries on devices shipped from manufactures.

So if you release your application under other open source licenses (including GPL V2), services providers and device manufactures have no legal obligation to allow unsigned/modified versions of you application to run on their devices. They can just take your application and your freedom along with it.

If you think that this couldn’t happen, take a look around. No other device around has created as much buzz as Apples iPhone and the way they are treating application developers is criminal. Even if OHA releases a truly open platform that is unlike anything before it, you have nothing to lose by choosing GPL V3 for your open source Android application. You’ll just be protecting and doing your part to ensure Android stays honest, open and free.