A Simple Query: “What Exactly Is AOSP?”
In simple terms, when people refer to “AOSP” in a conversation, they are talking about the Android Open-Source Project. While Android is partially open source, AOSP specifically refers to the open-source software stack that serves as the foundation of all Android operating systems. To clarify further, Android is made up of several components, and AOSP is just one of them.
Google created the Android Open-Source Project (AOSP) as an operating system that doesn’t contain any of the proprietary elements found in other iterations of Android.
Even without its additional proprietary elements, the core functionality of Android Open-Source Project (AOSP) remains intact. However, the absence of these additional elements would significantly reduce its value. Luckily, AOSP is open source, allowing anyone to modify the codebase according to their preferences. Many organizations such as /e/ have taken advantage of this to build their own mobile operating systems, including LineageOS, CalyxOS, GrapheneOS, and CopperheadOS.
AOSP receives regular monthly updates that include addressing any security issues and introducing new features to the operating system.
Distinguishing AOSP from Stock Android
Although AOSP is a fully operational mobile operating system, it lacks some essential components that have made Android as successful as it is today. For instance, AOSP excludes certain proprietary aspects of Android, including Google Play Store, Chrome web browser, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Contacts, since these components are not open source.
Moreover, AOSP lacks the important device drivers that are necessary for proper device functioning. Usually, chip manufacturers are responsible for developing these drivers. Most Android device manufacturers receive AOSP from their suppliers, making it possible for them to integrate their devices’ specific drivers directly into the project.
The components of the Android Open-Source Project (AOSP) include a Linux kernel primarily responsible for resource management, a Hardware Abstraction Layer that facilitates the usage of peripherals like Bluetooth, sound, microphones, and keyboards, an Android runtime that supports running Android apps, native libraries, the Android framework, and a basic set of applications that do not relate to Google. AOSP is a basic framework that companies can utilize to create their custom Android-like operating systems.
Deciding Between AOSP ROM and Stock ROM: What Factors to Consider?
A ROM based on Android Open-Source Project (AOSP) differs from a Stock Android ROM in that it is built using Google’s official repository but excludes any proprietary Google components. On the other hand, the Stock ROM is a firmware designed by the device manufacturer for use on a specific device. Despite being derived from AOSP, the Stock ROM also includes unique components such as the launchers and skins provided by the carrier.
To create tailored versions of Android for their devices, manufacturers need access to the Android Open-Source Project (AOSP) release to implement their special software and customization, leading to the development of versions such as Android 11 and Android 12.
The Android Open-Source Project (AOSP) is accessible at no cost, and the source code is available for download on the AOSP website or official AOSP GitHub repository. It is also viable to amend the codebase for the purpose of developing a new mobile operating system.
AOSP-powered devices typically do away with the Google components of Android, including Google Play Store, in favour of improved security and privacy. As a result, manufacturers need to establish their app store environment or depend on third-party websites, resulting in devices that seemingly run Android but do not include pre-installed Google Play Services, Google Play, or Google Chrome, as they rely on AOSP.
The usability and user-friendliness are important factors in the discussion of Android versus AOSP. For most users, AOSP is not enough as they need access to an app store and various functional and entertaining applications.
The Future of AOSP
For some time, there has been much talk regarding Google’s plans to develop a new platform named Fuchsia to replace their current mobile operating system. However, there has also been widespread speculation about the future of the Android Open-Source Project (AOSP), with rumours floating around about Google’s potential upgrading of their mobile operating system. Despite these rumours, there has been limited evidence to support the idea that they would be put into action.
In today’s era, Android is one of the most widely utilized operating systems with a current share of the global market estimated at 87%. This figure is expected to rise further in the coming years, making it improbable that Google would risk losing such a vast customer base by implementing significant changes to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Therefore, AOSP will continue to be used by Google and businesses of all types worldwide.
Therefore, I am confident that the lifespan of AOSP will be substantially prolonged.