Come and git it: Android 4 source now open for all

Source code for Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is now available for developers to examine and manufacturers to build into their new devices.
Written by Ed Burnette, Contributor

After dropping the ball with Android 3, Google has let Android 4 come out to play. In the android-building forum, Jean-Baptiste M. "JBQ" Queru wrote:

Hi! We just released a bit of code we thought this group might be interested in. Over at our Android Open-Source Project git servers, the source code for Android version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is now available...

This is actually the source code for version 4.0.1 of Android, which is the specific version that will ship on the Galaxy Nexus, the first Android 4.0 device. In the source tree, you will find a device build target named "full_maguro" that you can use to build a system image for Galaxy Nexus. Build configurations for other devices will come later.

This release includes the full history of the Android source code tree, which naturally includes all the source code for the Honeycomb releases. However, since Honeycomb was a little incomplete, we want everyone to focus on Ice Cream Sandwich. So, we haven't created any tags that correspond to the Honeycomb releases (even though the changes are present in the history.)

JBQ, on behalf of the AOSP team.

Originally, Android source was hosted on kernel.org, the same site that hosts Linux source code. After those servers were hacked in September, however, Android code was moved to Google hosted servers. Unfortunately the tools to browse the code and review contributed code are not there yet. What is there is a "git" repository.

Read: Top 10 features in Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

Full instructions for downloading the source are available at the AOSP download page. Developers can check out the 'ics-release' branch with the command "repo init -u https://android.googlesource.com/platform/manifest -b android-4.0.1_r1".

For non-developers, this release means that the floodgates are open for cheap Android 4-based tablets and phones, and for custom ROMs based on the latest version of Android. Google didn't release Android 3 (Honeycomb) to open source claiming it wasn't ready, so Android 2.3.3 was the last version that had source. That version (Gingerbread) was not optimized for tablets, but that didn't stop manufacturers like Amazon, B&N, Viewsonic, and Archos from using it on tablets.

Now, both tablets and phones can share a unified code base and graphical improvements such as the new Roboto font and hardware accelerated user interface.

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