Android was only 2-5% of smart phone sales back when I first wrote an app
. Back then, I fell in love with Android's openness. If one of the shipping apps had a bug, no problem! Just download the source code for the app and fix it. Andy Rubin, the father of Android, went so far as to call Android "the definition of open
" on Twitter.
But this openness is dying. The web browser app you used to be able to view the source code for? It's now Google Chrome. You can't have the source code. The "Music" app has become Google Music. Want the source code? Google says, "no." Can third party music players stream music? Google says, "no, music bought from the Play Store needs Google Music." The 50+ music players that already exist have to compete with this built-in competitive advantage. In the same store, no less.
Google close sourcing most apps that ship with Android is one thing. Google keeping its streaming service to itself is another. Google Now takes it to a whole new level.
Here are the steps to use Google Now to play something in Google Music.
1.) Type a song name
2.) Press on the song
Here are the steps for all 50+ aftermarket music players, including a top 10 paid app.
1.) Scroll to the bottom of Google Now
2.) Press the three vertical dots
3.) Press "Settings"
4.) Press "Phone search"
5.) Select that you want to see results from the app and uncheck Google Music
6.) Back all the way out to the original search screen
7.) Search for the song on the whole world wide web
8.) Scroll all the way to the right of the bottom bar
9.) Select "Phone"
10.) Select the song to play
Want more proof they are lowering Android's integrity in Google Now? Just do a voice search and say "What's this song". While I have SoundHound and Shazam installed on my Nexus 4, Google Now only uses Google Music to match the song and show me an ad. It doesn't bother to ask which app I'd prefer.
This is not Android's style. This goes against everything Google preaches. The Android way is interoperability for customization and choice.
I guess I was fooled. For a couple of years, Android was fair and open. Now only the bare bones operating system is open. And if your app's market cap is big enough, Google is going compete with you and win by pushing your app to the bottom. In the old days, I would go submit a patch to the "QuickSearchBox" app that ships on Android, but guess what? That's gone closed source too. It is now called "Google Now" and it is Android now.