“AOSP” is what many refer to when they talk about “pure Android”. But what is it really?
when we say that android is a free and open operating system, we mean that source code of the operating system is public and anyone can access, download and modify it to create their own version of the system. This whole set of publicly available code is what we call AOSPIs Android Open Source Project.
But the truth is that AOSP It is something very different from the version of Android that you can find on your mobile, regardless of the brand. Not even Google phones, accustomed since their inception to equipping a version of the system close to “stock Android”, do not include a pure version of AOSP, but rather opt for a heavily modified version of the operating system, with a large number of additions that are not present in the Android source code.
Today we are going to explain to you everything you need to know about AOSP. What is it, what is it really for and why is it not common to see devices that include this version of the operating system without any other additions.
AOSP (Android Open Source Project), what is it really?
AOSP is the basis of Android. It is the open source operating system that Google makes available to anyone who wants to access it, through its own repository where all the information and source code necessary to create custom variants of the operating system, called forks–.
Being a public and open project, anyone can collaborate by submitting suggestions, bug reports or source code contributions. Of course, all suggestions should be reviewed by Google engineers before fixes are added to the source code.
On the other hand, it should be mentioned that with each release of a new version of Android, Google publishes changes to AOSP repository the same day the update is released. So when Google makes the rollout of Android 13 official, all of its news will also be present in the AOSP repository, available for developers and manufacturers to work with.
When we receive the code from the AOSP, we have in front of us a mobile platform which includes the essential components of the operating system, including libraries, user interface, basic applications –browser, camera application, launcher, music player, calendar…– and, in short, everything necessary to serve as the “base” of an Android version, to which several plugins still need to be added.
And it is that, despite the fact that AOSP is designed with the intention of offering compatibility with almost all types of Materialmobile device and processor manufacturers still need to develop your own “drivers” which are then added to AOSP to include support for components such as camera or processor.
Although perhaps the largest absence in AOSP to be that of Google mobile services or GMS.
While it is true that AOSP is free and freeFollowing Google apps and services are private, and only available under google licensegranted to manufacturers whose devices meet the requirements set out in the Android Compatibility Definition Document – or CDD, for its acronym in English –.
This is the reason why Huawei devices, despite being Android-based, do not have access to Google apps. Due to restrictions imposed by the US government since 2019, Huawei cannot work with US companies such as Google, so despite access to the AOSP codeit lacks the ability to obtain the necessary license to use GMS in its operating system, which leaves Huawei with the daunting task of having to develop yours after Services which compensate for all the shortcomings present in the version of AOSP without GMS.
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The absence of the Google mobile services is critical, given that in its attempt to make Android an increasingly “modular” and easily updatable operating system, Google tends to use your services when it comes to incorporating new features into the operating system, instead of integrating them directly into AOSP – so it also has the option of using the Google Play platform to provide updates more rapidly.
In addition, other essential elements of the system such as the management of notifications, geolocation services or backup copies they also use services integrated with Google services.
Why are there no phones with “pure” versions of AOSP?
now it should be clear why it doesn’t make much sense to use a “pure” version of Android on devices: the limitations of the platform are too obvious to provide a satisfactory user experience, and very few people would want to buy a mobile without Google services, with extremely basic apps and without most of the functions present in the versions of Android with GMS.
However, it is possible to find smartphones whose software does not differ too much which we might find in a clean version of AOSP.
Besides Google, brands like Sony or Motorola They use AOSP-based software with few aesthetic additions. Unlike other customization layers, those of these two brands follow the lines of the Android source code, and are limited to including only the necessary additions. Even some of its apps are based on those of AOSP, like the launcher.
Other brands that used systems based on AOSP and with virtually no additions are now gone Essential with the PH-1, whose software was undoubtedly one of the main attractions of the device. Others, like Nothing, claim to be as close to the “AOSP experience” as possible in terms of interface and functionality. However, they all have an obligation to work on existing code if they want to provide a full user experience with Android.
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