Google closes Android Honeycomb source code

Google has disappointed its fans this week by announcing that it won't be releasing the source code for Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' any time soon - the first version of the OS to be closed-source.

The Android platform's openness, which allows developers and manufacturers to customise the system to their requirements, is considered one of its biggest advantages over closed-source counterparts like Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows Phone. Sadly, Google is breaking with tradition and keeping Honeycomb to itself.

The move, however, doesn't represent a shift in priorities, the company claims. Rather, Google is concerned that smartphone manufacturers will take the OS - which has been developed specifically for larger-format tablet devices with dual-core processors and plenty of RAM - and squeeze it into smartphones, giving users an unfair impression of the platform and a potentially poor user experience.

"To make our schedule to ship the [tablet OS] we made some design tradeoffs," Google's Andy Rubin admitted in an interview with 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."

That shortcut means that the source code will be kept private, with Google planning to wait for Ice Cream - a release which combines improvements made in Honeycomb with the smartphone-oriented Gingerbread release - to make the source code open once more.

Despite this, Rubin claims that Android remains an open-source project at heart. "We have not changed our strategy," he claimed, despite concern from the Android community that Google is reneging on its promises for the platform.