The platform (dubbed Android) will be Linux & Java based. Don’t expect to see phones that implement the platform until 2H08 (which means late December 2008). The Android platform (software stack) will be licensed under the Apache license 2.0.
A preview of the SDK will be available on Nov. 12, 2008. Surprisingly, the NYT article states:
“A week from today, the alliance plans to make available tools for third-party programmers, called a software developers’ kit, Rubin said. But the group’s core technology itself will not be made available under an open-source license until it is commercially ready sometime next year, Rubin said.”
Compare the latter statement to this statement from the developer section of the Open Handset Alliance website:
“We view Android as a “living” platform and look forward to working with the developer community to continuously enhance and enrich the platform.”
Huh? I’ll post any clarification on when the project truly becomes open for outside contributions (Nov. 12th or sometime in 2008) once I find out.
An interesting question and answer from the Android FAQ:
“Q]If the Open Handset Alliance is giving it all away for free, how will the platform be differentiated?
A] Because the Apache license does not have a copyleft clause, industry players can add proprietary functionality to their products based on Android without needing to contribute anything back to the platform. As the entire platform is open, companies can remove functionality if they choose. Applications are not set in stone, and differentiation is always possible. For example, if you want to include Hotmail instead of Gmail, it will not be an issue”
Using the Apache license is a very pragmatic decision. It’s hard for me to believe that all these vendors would agree to participate if the code was going to be GPL’d.