Manufacturers and developers have a long standing love/hate relationship that has kept the fragile ecosystem where we spend most of our free time intact. The dance beat is somewhat the same across all brands and, for the most part, all devices as well. Most manufacturers out there are held against certain standards (either due to their own internal procedures and codes or due to contractual obligations with carriers) that force them to do certain things on the devices they make that keep most of us away from exploiting them and unlocking their full potential. This comes in the form of locking of bootloaders, pseudo-impossible to crack signature verifications, and secretive documentation that more often than not, has a tendency to foil the efforts of people with the required skills to fix the inevitable issues that arise on every device.
The HTC Amaze 4G was a device that came out about a year and change ago that fell under some of these categories. One of the most crucial ones was the fact that the device’s WiFi drivers were out of reach of our developers. While the wlan TI drivers are part of the kernel (which is GPL licensed), there are certain parts of it that are normally not licensed under this particular model, and this driver was the case. The missing code gave most developers on the device headaches simply because without this code, WiFi on custom ROMs (and even stock ones) was lousy (if functional at all). Because of this and all the issues generated from it, a petition was started about 7 months ago by XDA member aj_2423. The petition essentially asked HTC to release the sources for the drivers so that devs could work on them, fixing the remaining bugs (after thousands of hours of reverse engineering). However, the petition, which reached over 500 signatures, seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
Just today, HTC Global Online Communications Manager Jeff Gordon told us that after lots of deliberation and going back and forth with TI, both companies had agreed that the required sources could be released to the public. HTC had gone rather silent as of late in the developer world, as many people were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of cooperation with the dev community, despite their continued promises. It seems to be that even though the company was falling out of grace with devs, they are beginning to try and renew their efforts by showing signs that they are still trying to get us on their side.
Well, HTC, you have made the right choice. Developers may only represent a small chunk of your overall user base, but you must understand that we (devs, hobbyists, and enthusiasts) tend to have very large spheres of influence. And in this very technological world of ours, it is a very important thing to have influential, indirect sales people, boasting the glory and overall awesomeness of your products. So, while our numbers may be small on a first impression, we are legion! It is this writer’s sincere hope that during your internal discussions to release these docs, the idea and concept of better, faster support for the developer scene was a factor being discussed, because this could easily sway a LOT of people over the manufacturer fence once again.
Once again, this is a great day for renewd relationships, particularly between developers and HTC. Keep up the good work, guys. We’ve missed you!
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[Thanks Jeff for the tip and the great news!]
Note from the author: The article has been corrected to reflect the original author of the petition._________