Google Snubs Oracle In Next Release Of Android -- Java APIs Dropped In Favor Of Open Source OpenJDK

Alap Naik Desai

Google has decided to drop Oracle's Java in its next release of Android. Instead, the search giant has opted for Open Source OpenJDK.

Google's next iteration of Android, sequentially named Android N, is expected to have some amazing features, including split-screen multitasking. However, the next version is making news for an entirely different reason. From a technological as well as legal perspective, Google has confirmed that it will drop support for Oracle's Java APIs in Android N and replace it with OpenJDK (Java Development Kit), reported VentureBeat.

A hawkeyed developer revealed on Hackernews a "Commit to Android," which reads, "Initial import of OpenJdk files. Create new libcore/ojluni directory with src/main/java and src/main/native subdirectiories. Build ojluni into core-oj jar. Use openjdk classes from java.awt.font package. Copy all files from jdk/src/share/classes and jdk/src/solaris/classes directories in openjdk into libcore/ojluni/src/main/java."

Google is working hard to make several fundamental changes to Android N, its upcoming iteration superseding Android M or Marshmallow. In this iteration, the company has completely dropped Oracle's proprietary Java APIs and opted for the open source alternative OpenJDK. The reason behind letting go Java, which incidentally powers billions of internet-connected devices across the globe, isn't entirely technical.

Oracle and Google haven't been on the best of terms over the use of the former's proprietary Java platform, reported Android Headlines. In fact, the companies have been battling it out in court over whether Google's Android can use Oracle's Java code. At the center of the issue is Google's usage of Java in Android Operating System (OS) without asking, as if it's open source and community licensed.

Google was embroiled in a legal dispute with Oracle because the latter says that Android is not allowed to use the proprietary Java bits. Google has been using proprietary bits of Java code since the early days of Android. However, since the OS is open source to begin with and Java is an essential as well as an integral part of it, the matter has been legally debated in and out of court. It appears Google is trying to completely avoid any legal hassles in the future iterations of Android by dumping Oracle's Java in favor of OpenJDK, which is the open source version of Java.

While the switch to OpenJDK might be not inspired by the legal dispute, the decision sure feels that way. Incidentally, Google hasn't dropped Java overnight. The changes have been gradual but unofficial for quite some time. It is only the next iteration, Android N, that will rely on OpenJDK instead of Java. Developers have spotted OpenJDK code on numerous occasions, and Google later confirmed that the change is indeed happening.

A spokesperson for Google added that Android will indeed move away from implementing Oracle's Java API and will solely rely on OpenJDK.

"As an open-source platform, Android is built upon the collaboration of the open-source community. In our upcoming release of Android, we plan to move Android's Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services. Google has long worked with and contributed to the OpenJDK community, and we look forward to making even more contributions to the OpenJDK project in the future."

Java programming language and code libraries were originally made by Sun Microsystems, a company that Oracle acquired. Ever since the acquisition, Oracle has been at war with Google over its Android OS that extensively uses Java. Last year, Google lost a case to Oracle and began moving away from Java, which can be considered a sound strategic move, reported BGR.

From an end-user point-of-view, there won't be any difference in the way Android behaves. In fact, the majority of developers familiar with Android's inner working are aware that with ART, or Android Run Time starting in Android 4.4 KitKat, Google has increasingly moved away from Oracle's Java.

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