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4/2/2011
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Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Google: 'We Took A Shortcut' With Honeycomb

Andy Rubin, the head of Google's Android group, admitted in an interview that Honeycomb was rushed to meet the initial batch of shipping deadlines.

Google has been criticized of late for maintaining its grip on the Android 3.0 Honeycomb source code. It has typically provided full access to each successive build of Android so that developers, device makers and others can tinker and dive into the code to more fully understand and take advantage of it.

For now, however, Google won't be letting others look at Honeycomb. In fact, Google is going to hold onto the Android 3.0 source code indefinitely. Only its direct partners, such as Motorola, which released the Honeycomb-based Xoom tablet in February, have access to the code. Google says its doing this because the the source code isn't ready to be looked at by others just yet.

"To make our schedule to ship the tablet, we made some design tradeoffs," said Andy Rubin, vice-president for engineering at Google and head of its Android group, in an interview with BusinessWeek/Bloomberg. "We didn't want to think about what it would take for the same software to run on phones. It would have required a lot of additional resources and extended our schedule beyond what we thought was reasonable. So we took a shortcut."

In other words, Honeycomb isn't ready to be installed on smartphones yet. In Google's opinion, if it were to release the code, developers would put Honeycomb on smartphones anyway. It wants to avoid that.

Rubin said that putting Honeycomb as it is today on smartphones might create "a really bad user experience. We have no idea if it will even work on phones," he said. "Android is an open-source project. We have not changed our strategy."

Not changed, perhaps, but certainly delayed. Not only is Google going to hold onto Honeycomb, BusinessWeek reports that Google is also telling partners it won't release any more Android code until the "Ice Cream" build of Android is finished. Ice Cream, which will begin the work of merging Android 2.3 Gingerbread with some of the advancements of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, will likely be previewed at Google's I/O developer conference in May.

Until then, don't expect to see any new Android code.

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