Android will likely always be open source, but just how open the platform will remain is an ongoing question. In a recent interview with Wired, Google’s new Android boss covered a lot of bases. He discussed the future of Android and dispelled speculation that it might merge with Chrome OS, but he also gave a somewhat unexpected answer to a question that many industry watchers have pondered for some time now: Just how open will Android be in the future?
From Wired’s recent interview with Sundar Pichai:
Some people worry that Google might respond to Facebook Home by blocking this kind of approach in a future release.
We want to be a very, very open platform, but we want a way by which end users are getting a good experience overall. We have to figure out a way to rationalize things, and do it so that it makes sense for users and developers. There’s always a balance there. It’s no different from the kind of decisions that Facebook has to make about its own platform. But right now, we don’t plan to make any changes — we are excited they’ve done good work.
Hold on. You’re saying that you like innovation like Home–but at some point in the future you might decide that an invasive software approach like this isn’t good for users and can’t be done in a future Android release?
No. Let me clarify. Users get to decide what apps and what choices they want. Some users really want this. We don’t want to get in the way of that. [But] in the end, we have to provide a consistent experience. As part of that, with every release of Android, we do go through changes. So we may make changes over time. But if this is what users want, I think Facebook will be able to do it. We want it to be possible for users to get what they want.
There is plenty of room for interpretation there. In the end though, it seems as if Google is leaving the door open but isn’t afraid to close it slightly if the need should arise. What might make the need arise? Google is leaving that up to its discretion — if it determines any particular Android app is standing in the way of users “getting a good experience overall,” it could definitely block the software from its mobile platform.