13
Nov
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While Android 4.2 is now making its way into AOSP (Android Open Source Project), support for one device in that code is not, and won't be for some time: the Nexus 4. Android maintainer JBQ (an awesome guy we quote a lot on days like this) has confirmed that the "Nexus 4 is not supported in AOSP at the moment: no source files, no binaries."

JBQ is not able to comment on why this is the case, or when we might expect the Nexus 4 to join Google's big happy AOSP Nexus device family, though obviously if Google could merge it into AOSP today, they would. So, the only logical conclusion? Something is keeping them from doing that. It could just be that the Android team still has things to finalize, i's to dot and t's to cross and all that, but they're usually pretty on the ball with this stuff.

My guess is that the most likely culprit is licensing. The same issue currently prevents the Nexus 7 3G from being added to AOSP, which JBQ blames on the fact that "[w]e haven't been able to license the GSM stack for AOSP yet." While it's unclear exactly what sort of licensing might prevent the N4 from being added into AOSP, my bet is that we're looking at a 95% chance the answer to that question is, at least in part (if not the entirety), "Qualcomm."

Qualcomm has been notorious for some time as highly protective of its intellectual property, and as the ARM processor game's biggest player - and the leading manufacturer of mobile SoC's - it's pretty obvious why. While we don't doubt for a second that Google is working hard to make sure the Nexus 4 does eventually makes it way to AOSP, it is a bit sad they couldn't make it happen before launch day. We'll let you know if we learn anything more about the status of the Nexus 4's source code.

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David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • TOMMMMMM

    Wow, lets hope this only lasts a week or two. If this goes on for a couple months or even indefinitely, then it will surely tarnish the Nexus name.

    • http://twitter.com/theslobdogg Rob Alexandroid

      Week or two? F* that! They're whole spiel about not having LTE because they can't control it loses all value if Qualcomm is restricting them from releasing N4 to AOSP.

      • József Király

        The missing LTE is not due to licensing and "no control" but the negative effect it has on the battery, AND the fact that LTE chips are still almost 10x as expensive as standard 3G GSM radios.

        • Royal2000H

          It was also due to control, mainly carriers like Verizon.

          • Josh Nichols

            No? Whether or not it had LTE had nothing to do with Verizon because you couldn't use it on Verizon's network even if it had LTE.

  • Steve Green

    They should not even allow this to be a possibility. All nexus designs should have open source drivers before they go to manufacturing.

    • Robert Alex Kibler

      How are they supposed to get open source GSM drivers? Do you suggest they manufacture their own chip and antennae, and write all the drivers for them, all while making sure they don't infringe on Qualcomm's IP? Good luck.

      • Steve Green

        I suggest they either buy it or payoff qualcomm and make their own. Google has the cash, and can get the knowhow.

        • darkcg

          You obviously don't know how the thing work. Just limit yourself to be a user and don't argue about development concepts you obviously don't know anything about.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=673571111 Vandara Peou

      stop sounding like a typical unappreciative self-entitled consumer . . .
      let's see you run the nexus program and meet such lofty goals. chances are the program would no longer exist.

      • marcusmaximus04

        NEVER COMPLAIN ABOUT ANYTHING. JUST BUY WHATEVER THEY GIVE YOU AND DON'T QUESTION IT. THIS IS WHAT SMART CONSUMERS DO.

        • crankyd00d

          LOL...epic post my friend. Thumbs up

        • http://wakoopa.com/yo2boy yo2boy

          I remember when people used to say that to Apple fanboys.

  • http://twitter.com/nirvanaman_1985 sam

    It could possibly be because of the low performance of the nexus 4 and them not wanting us to disable the temperature clockspeed reducing setting and fry our phones.

  • http://twitter.com/A2Eric Eric S

    Wish I would have known this before I ordered one. They should be more transparent about the issue. Seems pretty outrageous for a Nexus device (non Verizon) to be in this situation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1312291338 Tim Miller

      None of the orders have shipped. You're free to cancel yours on your Wallet account and free it up for someone else to have.

      • http://twitter.com/A2Eric Eric S

        That's okay. I'll continue to bitch and whine for a while then let it go.

      • Steve Williamson

        dibs!

      • daas88

        Even so, you can't beat its price/value ratio. O think I'd buy it even if it wasn't a nexus just because of that.

  • BrianLipp

    Wheres all the "This isnt a real Nexus!!!!!" screams? huh? When this happened with the VZW GNex people couldnt wait to slam it and claim it "wasnt a Nexus device"

    • marcusmaximus04

      All around you. Most of the comments here *are* complaining about just that.

    • AndroidUser00110001

      So far this is not a real Nexus :-)

  • canucks23

    what does this mean.. nexus 4 is my first android phone

    • Steve Williamson

      very very little to you.. im sure it will be in the AOSP by time you actually care about it.. enjoy your nexus 4 you lucky son of a bitch!

      • Scott

        lol hostile much

      • canucks23

        so in other words you dont know what it means either? or u just mad bro LOL

        • carnegie0107

          No, he's right. If this is your first venture into Android, then there's absolutely no reason for you to care. This is a minor frustration for hackers and open-source purists. It in no way diminishes how awesome your soon-to-arrive phone will be. Enjoy!

        • marcusmaximus04

          It only really matters if you plan on rooting the phone and installing a custom ROM(like cyanogenmod). Outside that, this will have 0 impact on you at all.

          • Dirk Jäckel

            It matters if you want to compile and build your own Android. I won't buy a Nexus 4 because of this.

          • marcusmaximus04

            Right, but here that's essentially a distinction without a difference. If you're building your own android branch for the Nexus 4, you're building a custom ROM.

        • Coleburns

          Sounds to me like his jealous

          • Steve Williamson

            yes I am jealous (tho just ordered my nexus now so now im happy) but I was still 100% right!

    • Cuvis

      As an end-user, not much. You likely won't see many full-featured community roms until this is rectified, but the stock experience is unaffected.

  • Greyhame

    Looks like it's time for Google to start making its own chips!! Ha, I wish. BTW, gesture typing on a tablet is fantastic!

  • Joe

    So does this mean no CM for the N4 until this happens???

    • http://twitter.com/kayateia Meg

      There's a pretty good chance CM will keep calm and carry on, because they support a number of proprietary phones.

      This is still terribly frustrating. Part of the idea of a Nexus device is that it's open.

      (No, I'm not freeing mine up for others.. hahah :)

    • GazaIan

      Not at all, it simply means Qualcomm will be more involved with this device, and the moment Qualcomm stops giving a fuck about the S4 Pro and the rest of their modules, the Nexus 4 is going to have a hard time living life.

      You'll still see CM, and you'll still see fully working CM builds fairly quickly, just like the GNexus.

      • Stacey

        I don't think that's an issue. The Nexus S just lost update support, yet Qualcomm is still providing binary and source support through CAF for the Snapdragon S2.

        • DaveNull

          Errm, Nexus S is an Exynos device. Nothing to do with Qcom or Code Aurora.

          • Stacey

            i know. I'm just saying that Qualcomm is still supporting 2 year old hardware, when competitors have lost support.

  • http://twitter.com/je56751 je56751

    I am sure it will be added, i think b/c of this news some people are canceling as I was able to grab a 16gb version when I initially was only able to order an 8gb version. Thanks Android Police!

    • Josh Nichols

      That's not the reason at all..

  • Nexus

    Is it a Nexus yet?

  • GazaIan

    I always wondered how this would work, considering Qualcomm's drivers are VERY proprietary. Very rarely do they release sources, and when they do, it's for an old old module or chipset.

  • GazaIan

    Guys, you may have not realized this (some have), but the Nexus 4 is the turning point for the Nexus brand. The Nexus used to be a totally developer centric device, but now they're switching to tend to the consumer market rather than the developers. This is just the beginning.

    • moelsen8

      I was thinking this same thing earlier today.....

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.ramsamy Sebastien Ramsamy

    WHAT LAUNCH ARE YOU ON ABOUT???

  • Will Tisdale

    I think this article is garbage personally. Nvidia is just as closed as Qualcomm, more so in some respects, yet Nexus 7 source is available. Some of the binaries are not available, however, because AOSP has no license to redistribute them.

    I don't actually believe that this is anything to do with licensing. All the Qualcomm source would be licensed under Apache anyway (check out the Code Aurora git repos) so I think it's just an excuse. Even if they don't have a license to redistribute binaries (which is unlikely) it doesn't stop them releasing the Apache licensed source.

    It wouldn't be the first time poor excuses were made, would it? Honeycomb anyone?

    The other fact is that Google don't really give a crap if an Android device is open or not. That is the fact fanboys need to get their head around. AOSP is just a way of chucking some code over the wall now and again in a pseudo open source fashion. It is definitely *not* an open source project...

  • cheerpipe

    Prepare for just a semi functional cyanogenmod Just like sgs3

  • zookalicious