Friday, February 03, 2012

Google boots CDMA devices from the AOSP

As if you didn't already know it, if you wanted any further proof that CDMA is dying, Google no longer "supports" CDMA devices as part of the AOSP (Android Open Source Project). That includes devices that combine CDMA / LTE technology, as Verizon's devices have to, since CDMA is the backstop when LTE is not present, and includes tablets like the Motorola Xoom, as well.

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First noticed on Friday, CDMA devices disappeared from Google's Android developer devices. First noticed missing was the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, but closer examination noted that the Motorola Xoom was gone, as well (remember, it is a stock Android device, and was the first Honeycomb device, too), and the Sprint Nexus S 4G, too (once again, the Nexus S 4G was a stock Android device).

So, what happened? Since the Verizon Galaxy Nexus was the first missing device spotted, folks immediately thought it was furor over the Google Wallet issue on that device. In fact, Google made a statement to The Verge implying that, but later backed off, saying it had made that statement in error.

Instead, it appears to be a technical issue. As Google's Dan Morril explained on a Google Groups page, CDMA devices are being removed from the AOSP site because they need carrier-signed .apk files (which users can’t generate). In other words, they can't be open source, and thus can't be part of the AOSP.

This includes Sprint as well as Verizon, and would include other CDMA carriers, such as U.S. Cellular, as well.

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No matter what, though, CDMA Nexus devices (and the Xoom --- which Motorola has said will get ICS soon) will continue to be supported. They will continue to have unlockable bootloaders, and Google will make as many of the closed-source binaries as possible available for CDMA devices.

Still, this change does give AT&T a potential for a slight PR edge over Verizon, now.  Both have LTE service, with Verizon's far more widespread across America, but since Verizon uses CDMA as a backup, in a way, it's somewhat of a second-class citizen when compared to an AT&T LTE device (not really, but hey, we're talking about marketing here).

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