While Android is Free, Google Has some Catches for Manufacturers

February 13, 2014 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Android has always been marketed as the free and open source mobile OS. Well it still is, but Google does have some catches involved for manufacturers looking to use Android on their devices. According to a report out of The Wall Street Journal, they examined a few documents that shows what tablet makers must adhere to, in order to adopt Google’s Android OS. Manufacturers are required to preinstall certain Google apps, set Google as the default search provider, and ensure that the Search and Play Store icons are placed “at least on the panel immediately adjacent to the Default Home Screen.” Which in most cases that does happen, in fact I can’t think of a device that didn’t have Search and the Play Store either on the first home screen or the one next too it. Looking at the G Flex, it’s actually on the very first page.

The documents that the WSJ is citing are Google’s agreements with Samsung and HTC. The Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) documents were published by Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman on Wednesday, and they first surfaced as part of a 2012 patent suit between Google and Oracle. However, the cited agreements with Samsung and HTC only cover 2011 and 2012. Although Google uses similar agreements still, according to the WSJ. But it is still unknown whether all of these same conditions still apply to Samsung, HTC and other manufacturers out there.

I can’t say that I’m surprised that Google has these conditions in place for their hardware partners. And it’s not like they are crazy conditions like they have to use stock Android. They are basically saying they want the Play Store and Google Search visible for users, and have Google apps pre-installed. That doesn’t sound too crazy, now does it? Let us know what you think in the comments below.