In an act that appears to contradict both the ‘do no evil’ and the ‘android is open’ mantras of Google they sent a Cease and Desist to CyanogenMod creator Cyanogen. This effectively means that all cooked versions can now no longer include and Google applications, sync with Google services or the many other closed source parts of the ROM. I use Cyanogen’s mod and this effectively cripples it to a worthless Linux phone distribution. Google have essentially said to me “You know that T-Mobile G1 you brought that was supposed to be completely open? Well we never made all the good bits open, and now we’re taking them away.”. I can’t use the Official ROM because I live in Australia and it constantly sends text messages to T-Mobiles myFaves which costs me a fortune. So Google has removed my ability to use their services on my ‘Google’ phone. So now wherever you read a press release where Google claims that Android is open you know what they really mean is they made the stuff they had to open and closed the rest.
I see only one way out of this mess, we need developers to replace all the closed source parts of Android with free software solutions. This means Android will be free and fully open source. Why stop there though? Lets make Google’s decision into one they will regret! As the open source community is replacing the closed source apps we should build in functionality to allow the phone to work with Google’s competitors. When you first used the G1 you had to sign in using your Google account. What if that same box let you sing in with your Live Id, your Yahoo account or even OpenID? Imagine the Android phone being written in completely open source to work on any operator! It wouldn’t be hard either, most are beginning to provide APIs to their accounts and I’m sure they’d love to help.
Edit: According the the Save Cyanogen Petition application on the market it is impossible to even run the ROMs that Google claim to support without the Google binaries.