Why not just a clean version of Android?

Being totally new to the world of Android, I originally thought that „a clean version of Android“ would be Google‘s base software without any alterations and consequently easy to maintain for a small producer such as Fairphone.
Having followed this forum over the past few weeks - aside from issues of people who voluntarily de-google their device - it seems that FP hardware works well, but that issues often stem from Fairphone‘s own OS (camera software, volume settings, brightness, launcher etc).
So my question is: Would it be possible for Fairphone to „simply“ use the exact same software as Google does with its Pixel (i.e. FP only focussing on hardware), or is „clean Android“ only a very basic OS for all to use, but every company than has to create many more tools on top of it (e.g. camera software)?
I understand that the software makes products unique and differentiable, but for FP it seems such a burden, that if it were possible to pay Google a license fee for the whole software, that deal might be worth considering.

Especially for the camera software, Google doesn’t publish their own version (there are some unofficial ports though). So a complete ‘clean’ Android version doesn’t deliver everything necessary for the daily use of a phone. But the Fairphone OS is quite near a plain vanilla version.


What is referred to as clean Android is exactly what FP is using (along with a few other manufacturers). The thing is that Google intentionally makes some things exclusive only to Pixels (especially the camera app, the Pixel launcher, and some Google Assistant features). As far as I know, FP uses the default Android launcher (Quickstep) and the only custom apps are Camera and My Fairphone. The other tweaks you mentioned (volume, brightness etc.) have to be addressed by any manufacturer (even Google) as it depends on the actual hardware used by the device.


You are right: Android One: Sicher, einfach und immer auf dem neuesten Stand

But Fairphone decided not to use it, I do not know for what reason(s).

Best wishes,

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But Fairphone decided not to use it, I do not know for what reason(s).

I think one reason would be security updates stopping after 2 years, since that’s the limit for Android One.

For comparison, Fairphone managed to provide six years of security updates to the FP2 (sans chipset security updates since Qualcomm drops support after 2 years)


I can have changed but the two years were a minimum in order to get the label Android One.

Android One may also require some relatively drastic code changes for FP, since the point of Android One is to decouple any customization (drivers, minor UI tweaks, etc.) from Android to make security updates easier to apply.


I see it was already mentioned, but Pixels don’t use clean android, but rather an exclusive configuration that Google has never bothered to give a name.
I think the clean = Pixel thing came from develepers, as most apps and such are primarily tested on Pixels, therefore by definition Pixels are “clean” and everything else is different.

Edit: https://www.androidpolice.com/google-needs-to-give-its-android-skin-a-public-name/


i think the 2 year security update window refers to the length of security updates for particular devices. the latest release of Android 8 was on oct. 4 2021 for example.

i don’t think pixels have any special sauce apart from certain apps (launcher, camera, etc.) As far as I know they are based on AOSP, but maybe i’m wrong there.
Other manufacturers have been known to do all sorts of things to AOSP :frowning:

But in general, yeah. Since there is now good community-supported open-source available for Android, Google has been deprecating things like the AOSP email client. I think this makes sense. Why should Google commit resources to this when there are already good open-source clients? It’s much better for Google to spend its time writing a new bluetooth stack and getting it added to mainline Linux, for example.

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