The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is Google giving the entire community (manufacturers, enthusiasts, developers, etc.) the necessary building blocks to bring what many refer to as “stock Android” (more accurately “vanilla Android”) to a device. The inherent problem with this is that the manufacturers are often the roadblock to such endeavors. Too often manufacturers (like HTC, Samsung, etc.) and suppliers (like Qualcomm) all claim that they can’t release certain drivers, and label them as “proprietary” so that no one can use them. Of course, since there’s nothing really “new” under the sun, this just serves to hinder innovation and development. And often times manufacturers will claim it’s the suppliers who are really hindering things, but who is it that chooses the suppliers? I’ll let the obvious rhetorical question be obvious.
In this mix, it’s refreshing to see a mainstream company attempt to shuck all of these trends and actually release the AOSP source for a device, with the Xperia S being the first non-Nexus device to be included in the AOSP device tree. This experiment ended on a positive note, with Sony moving the source for the Xperia S into their own managed GitHub repository. But Sony hasn’t stopped there.
While companies like Samsung, which used to be rather developer-friendly, now moving away from being open to the community, Sony instead is welcoming them with open arms. Their latest flagship device, the Xperia Z, has joined the Xperia S with having its AOSP source files available on their GitHub. They even posted a lot of information over on their Developer World blog, listing SD Card, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, LED light, and sensors working (partially), and they state plans to include NFC in the future. They also have a link to the proprietary Qualcomm binaries needed in order for this to work. You can see the video below, and visit their blog post for more information.
February 13, 2013 By: jerdog
We have always strongly encouraged developers from the various OEMs to take an active role in the open source community. At times we have seen involvement, but often that doesn’t happen for many different reasons. One of those reasons boils down to an OEM placing their developers in virtual walled gardens, away from “prying eyes” and the rest of the open source community.
At the risk of belaboring the point too much, Sony Mobile continues to raise the bar for the rest of the OEMs out there. They actively encourage their developers to participate in the open source community, and as a result, their developers answer the call and step forward with great tools. One such tool, by Sony Mobile Developer pal.szasz, adds incredible value to mobile app developers out there. And to top it off, it is fully open source. XAppDbg is a tool which you can include in your existing app to allow you to test out certain features and changes without having to rebuild each time. As Pal explains it, the big advantage this brings is when working on the UI for your app, you can try out different settings and immediately see the effects inside the running application.
XAppDbg consists of the server, which runs on the phone, and a client, which runs on the computer. Utilizing Java reflection to scan for fields and methods in the code, XAppDbg opens up the public fields, properties and commands to the client, allowing you to enter in specific arguments to adjust during runtime. Because XAppDbg is written in J2SE, you can use the tool with desktop Java applications as well as Android mobile applications.
Pal created a thread on XDA, as well as a more detailed write up along with instructions and code examples over on Sony’s Developer World and made his source freely available. Make sure to visit both, and show support for his endeavors.
February 12, 2013 By: jerdog
One of the most highly-anticipated devices debuted at CES 2013 is the Sony Xperia Z. With a 5″ 1080p screen with a ~441 ppi, sitting atop a quad-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm S4 Pro with 2 gigs RAM and a 13.1 MP camera, there’s no doubt that anticipation is warranted. With the device recently released in Japan, and a worldwide release date is speculated to be in the next few weeks, what is this? Kernel source already?
This year, Sony Mobile has already demonstrated with their commitment to supporting the open source developer community. The most recent previous example is their kernel source code release for their alpha Jelly Bean build for the Xperia T (massive GPL-compliance anyone?). Now, they’ve released the kernel source code for the Xperia Z, which hasn’t even gone on sale around the world yet. Sure Sony isn’t the first OEM to do this, but they have a track record of releasing complete, compilable, and working kernel source (cough, cough Samsung). They also have shown consistency at releasing source immediately (sneeze, HTC). And to top it off, they just plain release the source (ahem, Rockchip, Huawei, and countless others) like the GPLv2 requires you to.
So if you are in the mood for compiling a kernel for a new, top-of-the-line device even though you don’t have it in front of you, head on over to Sony Developer’s Open Source Downloads site. Obviously, you won’t be able to test out the source, but it can provide a good indication of what they have planned for a device that is slated to be the big one for Sony Mobile in 2013.