Google abandons CDMA

Google has decided to pull all references to CDMA phones and tablets from its Android website.

This includes source code and factory ROMs for Verizon’s CDMA version of the Galaxy Nexus and Motorola Xoom, as well as the Nexus S 4G.

The implication of this, according to one Android developer we have spoken to, is that Google can’t be bothered providing the  official updates for CDMA which is expected from “developer” hardware.

It looks like the GSM Nexus S and WiFi-only Motorola XOOM will still be supported and there are some references to the Galaxy Nexus CDMA/LTE, though these are marked as “archived, for reference only”.

In response, Google said that it had decided to remove CDMA devices from its official support documentation because the technology and software required to make them function correctly is closed-source.

According to Android Community, radios and other APK files for a CDMA device must be digitally signed by a carrier, something that can’t be open-sourced, and therefore isn’t included in the Android Open Source Project.

Writing in the forums, Google said that recent CDMA Android devices implement core telephony functionality in .apk files provided in binary form by the carriers.

To use them, .apk files must be signed by the so-called “platform” key, but if an individual creates a custom build from the AOSP source code, they don’t use the same signing key as these CDMA flies were signed with.

As a result, the files don’t work and pure AOSP builds running on these devices can’t place calls, access mobile data, and so on.

It said that it will try to make available as many as possible of the closed-source binaries for these devices, and Nexus devices will continue to have unlockable bootloaders. GSM/HSPA+ devices are still supported, as are any other devices it is able to support, Google claims.

So, Google is saying it will support the Galaxy Nexus LTE, Nexus S 4G and XOOM CDMA, at least as long as the hardware is compatible with updated versions of Android. However, it will not be at the same levels that GSM developers get.

The guess is that updates to the Galaxy Nexus will come through Verizon which means the phone company can delay or ignore updates.