Apr 06 AT 8:59 PM Alberto Vildosola 39 Comments

Android in Chief Andy Rubin sets the record straight about Honeycomb and fragmentation

Completely out of left field, Andy Rubin — VP of Engineering at Google and head of Android development — decided to put an end to those rumors we’ve been hearing lately about Honeycomb, and OEM customization. Both of these rumors started at Bloomberg, so take that as you will. To refresh your memory, the rumors implied that Google was changing strategy with Honeycomb and it had decided to delay or keep the source code locked . Then last week, Bloomberg reported that Google was taking a more aggressive approach against OEMs and carriers customizing Android, in order to fend off fragmentation.

Fast-forward to today and Andy Rubin took to the Android Developers Blog with a post titled: “I think I’m having a Gene Amdahl moment”. In reference to Gene Amdahl, the person who coined the term “FUD” or “Fear, uncertainty and doubt”. Andy explains that nothing has changed in the partnership between Google and the Open Handset Alliance members. More specifically:

Our approach remains unchanged: there are no lock-downs or restrictions against customizing UIs. There are not, and never have been, any efforts to standardize the platform on any single chipset architecture.

Then talking about delays in the release of the Honeycomb source code, Andy said:

Finally, we continue to be an open source platform and will continue releasing source code when it is ready. As I write this the Android team is still hard at work to bring all the new Honeycomb features to phones. As soon as this work is completed, we’ll publish the code. This temporary delay does not represent a change in strategy. We remain firmly committed to providing Android as an open source platform across many device types

There it is folks, nothing has changed in terms of OEM customization and the Honeycomb source code will be released when it’s ready for phones — at Google I/O, pretty please? — We can all calm down now. I suggest you go read the whole post and come back and let us know what you think. Food for thought: Where do you think Bloomberg got those rumors from?

Image source: NYTimes

Source: Android Developers Blog

Alberto is a college student living somewhere between Miami, Sarasota and the World Wide Web. Although a former iPhone owner, Alberto is now a proud Android enthusiast. You can follow Alberto on Twitter and Google+ for his thoughts unworthy of an article.

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  • BiGMERF

    Well thats good news !

    • http://Website Mandy Rubin

      WELCOME TO FRAGMENTATION

    • http://Website Felicia

      Dont take his words for granted. I guess he was drunk during the whole interview. Look at the picture, sitting there, drunk at the local kindergartens…

    • http://Website Mandy Rubin

      WELCOME TO FRAGMENTATION!

    • http://Website Felicia

      Dont take his words for granted. I guess he was drunk during the whole interview. Look at the picture, sitting there, drunk at the local kindergartens….

  • http://reverbnation.com/thegreenjacket rhY

    OK, but by always having the source code publicly available, you would also benefit from a million coders planet wide getting it out the door faster.

    I don’t think Google even understands what they’re doing, or WHY it’s such a great thing to be open source from the get go.

    I would already have Cyanogenmod Honeycomb on my old Dream/Sapphire if they would just put the whole damn OS up on Google Code. Why not just be TRULY Open Source, reap all the benefits, and who cares if some crazy hackers release a bunch of broken crap on the side? For every bad idea or code submission, there will be a good one. You just need a guy at the top to sift through it and sort those commits into two piles. Or a committee of guys.

    This is silly. They should just release the code and stop being a gay corporation. “Do No Evil” = “RELEASE THE CODE” You don’t need to whine about “When it’s ready… . blah blah blah.” Pathetic babies. Do they even know what Open Source means?!?

    • Alberto Vildosola

      In my opinion, they don’t develop Android in the open because they don’t want competitors easily knowing what they’re up to. Maybe in the future, when Android owns most of the market they’ll open up a bit more.

      • http://Website Levi

        What do you mean by “think”? (Just kidding… too funny though.) And yes, it was called for. But only because people are idiots and can’t put two and two together. (I did not and would not claim you are one of these people, by the way. I would just have been more sarcastic if I was the one posting. Then again, there is a reason I am not a successful blogger. Calling your readers idiots is probably not the way to be one. :) Thanks for the good work, by the way.

        • Alberto Vildosola

          You’re welcome ;)

    • http://Website Nithin Jino

      Cyanogen himself said that he was happy Google didn’t release the code for Honeycomb. It is a nasty pile of hacks. Let them clean up the code a little.

      Looks like you are just impatient.

    • http://Website Levi

      I agree with you wholeheartedly that Google wither does not seem to understand the benefits of open source development or do not want to benefit from them. But the, I’d already have it running on my phone, despite the fact that it is not done to be phone OS really proves my point in the next post. I suspect Google does want to control the direction Android goes and this is why they don’t fully embrace the open source model. But this is just a guess. As for your homophobic comment, you suck!!

    • http://Website Dave

      Umm, it’s not open source until it’s released into AOSP. Take a chill pill.

    • Noice

      Open source actually means that they make the source code available… it’s only traditional that it’s “Open” always. Android is Open Source… they simply reserve the right (which every FOSS dev has) to not have it publicly open during core development.

      I don’t blame them honestly. They are competing primarily against the Pirate of Silicon Valley (See movie). As long as it’s open upon each release of a new version, it’s open – and they do share it non-stop with proven contributors and capable engineers (at their discretion).

      Love the hyperbolic nonsense though… it really torqued the “I’ve got something to say, and f**k everyone involved” attitude to an appropriate level for this community.

    • http://Website ari-free

      Just look at the failure that is meego and you will understand why it is not such a good idea to have an open development model that takes years to produce a shipping product.

    • http://Website rhY

      OK, but by always having the source code publicly available, you would also benefit from a million coders planet wide getting it out the door faster.

      I don’t think Google even understands what they’re doing, or WHY it’s such a great thing to be open source from the get go.

      I would already have Cyanogenmod Honeycomb on my old Dream/Sapphire if they would just put the whole damn OS up on Google Code. Why not just be TRULY Open Source, reap all the benefits, and who cares if some crazy hackers release a bunch of broken crap on the side? For every bad idea or code submission, there will be a good one. You just need a guy at the top to sift through it and sort those commits into two piles. Or a committee of guys.

      This is silly. They should just release the code and stop being a gay corporation. “Do No Evil” = “RELEASE THE CODE” You don’t need to whine about “When it’s ready… . blah blah blah.” Pathetic babies. Do they even know what Open Source means?!?!

  • http://Website Levi

    Should have been titled “For the two people who have not yet figured out what is going on”.

    If you read the news it should be clear to you by now that 1, the architectural changes in Honeycomb will be implemented for phones, tablets (and possibly even the Google TV) in the release following Honeycomb: Ice Cream.

    2, Honeycomb is a hack. It was quickly hacked on to a tablet. God knows it doesn’t really work. But it is getting better. And once they get past bug fixing, maybe they’ll even figure out how to implement it on a phone as well.

    Now given these two things, the most recent comments by Rubin on not wanting to release Honeycomb source code until it is (a) less of a hack, and (b) implemented so it works well on phones (sort of preempting people wanting to put it on phones when it does not work on them) should have made sense for everybody. If it didn’t, well for you, the above article should clarify.

    I hate people!

    • Alberto Vildosola

      Then again, some people still think Obama is from Kenya. It never hurts to have somebody in charge come out and set the record straight.

      • http://Website Levi

        Oops. Put the response to you on the wrong post :)

      • http://Website jiwilli

        Obama is from Kenya. Show me his birth certificate! It doesn’t matter anyway, he is as bad a president as honeycomb is an OS.

  • http://Website ablkida

    So if its not ready, why do you release honeycomb and xoom? To compete with the iPad? But it’s not competing because the sales of the xoom are lackluster… then why?

    • http://Website ari-free

      Probably for the same reason Microsoft released Windows Me and Vista. They had to release something instead of nothing. Microsoft took many hits for it but they are now smiling with Windows 7 sales and everyone forgot about those Mac vs PC ads.

      Except for t-mobile :)

      • RonWeez

        Personally I think that custom UI’s shouldn’t be done away all together but I do believe that every android phone should come with the stock android launcher and then the custom launcher as well kind of like what cyanogen does. That way customers can chose. But Ill take what Andy says with a grain of salt because company’s always say one thing to hide their strategy. The could be trying to stop fragmentation and do not want to upset handset makers.

    • http://Website Levi

      Actually, they are competing. And the Xoom sales at a 100k the first month are not bad. The iPad’s sales are a different ball game, of course, but in the non-iPad category the Xoom is doing very well.

      They released the Xoom and a hack job Honeycomb to ensure that it does not look like they are playing catch up. But they are, no doubt about it, as highlighted by bugs, SD card not functioning, availability of tablet apps, benchmarks seriously sucking compared to the iPad 2, and etc.

      I was talking to the wife of a Google employee (completely different division) and she received internal advice not to buy a Google tablet before the fall I suspect this will be the time when the hack job we call Honeycomb will be fixed (Ice Cream?) and widely available on hardware. She was contemplating buying an iPad 2 for both herself and her husband. But by the fall we might even have an iPad 3 if rumors are correct. I seriously doubt the playing catch up role will go away in the next year and a half. Apple has it locked in. But in the long run Android could eat the iPad like it ate the iPhone. But lets not get ahead of ourselves.

      • http://Website Strauss & Co

        Yeah, i got an iPad 2 too. Its marvellous…

      • http://Website jjl84

        Have you played with the XOOM? Is it perfect? No. Is it a “hacked together OS?” Absolutely not. I love mine and have little problems with it. So much more fun to use compared to my father-in-law’s iPad2 with row after row of icons in no apparent order. I’m just not understanding this “hacked together” rhetoric.

      • http://Website Strauss & Co

        Yeah, i got an iPad 2 too. Its marvellous….

  • http://Website Ryan

    That is definitely good news, because we really need the devs to make this OS everything it’s capable of. I’m tired of playing with these Android tabs and them being laggy as hell, so that’s awesome that the devs will have an easier job of fixing it for us!

  • http://Website gave up

    seems like android is a complete waste of time and efforts! this guy has no clue and honeycomb seems to be disaster of nuclear epicness! it isnt finished nor will it ever, they are desperately throwing source codes of junk together and expect it to taste like honey. boy is he wrong!

    • http://Website gave up

      seems like android is a complete waste of time and efforts! this guy has no clue and honeycomb seems to be disaster of nuclear epicness! it isnt finished nor will it ever, they are desperately throwing source codes of junk together and expect it to taste like honey. boy is he wrong!!

  • http://blog.edzilla.fr Edzilla

    The thing is, no matter what he says, what they have done so far (ie, not releasing the code for the honeycomb that’s in the XOOM) is illegal.
    Under the licence they have agreed to (the GPL, for the linux kernel), you HAVE to give access to the code.
    Taken from the GPLv2:

    3. You may copy and distribute the Program [...] in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

    a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code [...]; or,
    b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code[...];

    So, until they do, they are blatantly NON open.

    • http://Website NotRelevent

      Only problem with your flawed argument, is that the user space portion of android is not GPL code and does not have to be, therefore it’s not illegal to not release the code right away.

      The kernel code (ie. the only GPL’ed part) for the XOOM is available and has been since way before the XOOM was called the XOOM.

    • http://timegames.net Josh White

      if I remember correctly, android is built on top of the linux kernel, not a derivative work. Linus himself just recently said that google is not in violation for simply accessing the linux api. In the same way a program runs on an OS, android runs ON TOP OF linux. The linux code that android uses is already available, have at it. The rest of android (the software stack on top of linux) is NOT affected by linux’s GPL.

    • http://Website J.

      In addition to everyone else’s accurate counters to your somewhat flawed argument, there’s also this to consider – By licence, they are only compelled to make those portions under GPL2.0 available to *owners of the device*.

  • http://Website Damien

    I like that Andy Rubin isn’t trying to kill off custom UI’s. Heck, alongside stock Android, I absolutely love Sense UI. But I do wish they’d get a handle on the OS version fragmentation.

    My close friend came up to me about a month ago and excitedly told me that her Epic 4G had just been updated with the “new” version of Android. (She was mostly glad because she had run into apps that require Froyo.) She was so happy and actually said “I feel like I have a new phone now!” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’ve had Froyo for nearly 7 months.

    On some level, the fragmentation is a little embarrassing. And if Android is going to make their products “sticky” to mainstream sers (you know, those like my friend who doesn’t read tech blogs), then their going to have to do something about it soon or later. Hopefully sooner.

  • http://blessayfromamerica.blogspot.com GUy Bailey

    Anybody else thinks he looks completely ridiculous in that photo?

    • http://Website Paul

      Heh. I think he was just showing off his toy helicopter.

  • http://Website dave

    All Google should do re:Customized UIs, is make sure that they can be turned off/switched ala Lancherpro, AWN et al.

    If you could turn-off motoblur/sense/touchwiz – then it would allow OEM customization and yet avoid some of the update/fragmentation issues.,

  • http://Website STEVE J

    HE LOOKS LIKE A DRUNK BUM

  • MitchRapp81

    no problems so far on my xoom – rooted + kernel @ 1.5ghz. 15 hours of intense usage coupled with about 12 hours of idle time and it was still running …

    1 force close = Google Body
    1 thing I dislike = the keyboard

    good thing in both cases, things can change. Good luck changing the keyboard on iOS.

  1. Well thats good news !

    • Mandy RubinGuest 4 years ago

      WELCOME TO FRAGMENTATION

    • FeliciaGuest 4 years ago

      Dont take his words for granted. I guess he was drunk during the whole interview. Look at the picture, sitting there, drunk at the local kindergartens…

    • Mandy RubinGuest 4 years ago

      WELCOME TO FRAGMENTATION!

    • FeliciaGuest 4 years ago

      Dont take his words for granted. I guess he was drunk during the whole interview. Look at the picture, sitting there, drunk at the local kindergartens….

  2. rhYGuest 4 years ago

    OK, but by always having the source code publicly available, you would also benefit from a million coders planet wide getting it out the door faster.

    I don’t think Google even understands what they’re doing, or WHY it’s such a great thing to be open source from the get go.

    I would already have Cyanogenmod Honeycomb on my old Dream/Sapphire if they would just put the whole damn OS up on Google Code. Why not just be TRULY Open Source, reap all the benefits, and who cares if some crazy hackers release a bunch of broken crap on the side? For every bad idea or code submission, there will be a good one. You just need a guy at the top to sift through it and sort those commits into two piles. Or a committee of guys.

    This is silly. They should just release the code and stop being a gay corporation. “Do No Evil” = “RELEASE THE CODE” You don’t need to whine about “When it’s ready… . blah blah blah.” Pathetic babies. Do they even know what Open Source means?!?

    • In my opinion, they don’t develop Android in the open because they don’t want competitors easily knowing what they’re up to. Maybe in the future, when Android owns most of the market they’ll open up a bit more.

      • LeviGuest 4 years ago

        What do you mean by “think”? (Just kidding… too funny though.) And yes, it was called for. But only because people are idiots and can’t put two and two together. (I did not and would not claim you are one of these people, by the way. I would just have been more sarcastic if I was the one posting. Then again, there is a reason I am not a successful blogger. Calling your readers idiots is probably not the way to be one. :) Thanks for the good work, by the way.

    • Nithin JinoGuest 4 years ago

      Cyanogen himself said that he was happy Google didn’t release the code for Honeycomb. It is a nasty pile of hacks. Let them clean up the code a little.

      Looks like you are just impatient.

    • LeviGuest 4 years ago

      I agree with you wholeheartedly that Google wither does not seem to understand the benefits of open source development or do not want to benefit from them. But the, I’d already have it running on my phone, despite the fact that it is not done to be phone OS really proves my point in the next post. I suspect Google does want to control the direction Android goes and this is why they don’t fully embrace the open source model. But this is just a guess. As for your homophobic comment, you suck!!

    • DaveGuest 4 years ago

      Umm, it’s not open source until it’s released into AOSP. Take a chill pill.

    • Open source actually means that they make the source code available… it’s only traditional that it’s “Open” always. Android is Open Source… they simply reserve the right (which every FOSS dev has) to not have it publicly open during core development.

      I don’t blame them honestly. They are competing primarily against the Pirate of Silicon Valley (See movie). As long as it’s open upon each release of a new version, it’s open – and they do share it non-stop with proven contributors and capable engineers (at their discretion).

      Love the hyperbolic nonsense though… it really torqued the “I’ve got something to say, and f**k everyone involved” attitude to an appropriate level for this community.

    • ari-freeGuest 4 years ago

      Just look at the failure that is meego and you will understand why it is not such a good idea to have an open development model that takes years to produce a shipping product.

    • rhYGuest 4 years ago

      OK, but by always having the source code publicly available, you would also benefit from a million coders planet wide getting it out the door faster.

      I don’t think Google even understands what they’re doing, or WHY it’s such a great thing to be open source from the get go.

      I would already have Cyanogenmod Honeycomb on my old Dream/Sapphire if they would just put the whole damn OS up on Google Code. Why not just be TRULY Open Source, reap all the benefits, and who cares if some crazy hackers release a bunch of broken crap on the side? For every bad idea or code submission, there will be a good one. You just need a guy at the top to sift through it and sort those commits into two piles. Or a committee of guys.

      This is silly. They should just release the code and stop being a gay corporation. “Do No Evil” = “RELEASE THE CODE” You don’t need to whine about “When it’s ready… . blah blah blah.” Pathetic babies. Do they even know what Open Source means?!?!

  3. LeviGuest 4 years ago

    Should have been titled “For the two people who have not yet figured out what is going on”.

    If you read the news it should be clear to you by now that 1, the architectural changes in Honeycomb will be implemented for phones, tablets (and possibly even the Google TV) in the release following Honeycomb: Ice Cream.

    2, Honeycomb is a hack. It was quickly hacked on to a tablet. God knows it doesn’t really work. But it is getting better. And once they get past bug fixing, maybe they’ll even figure out how to implement it on a phone as well.

    Now given these two things, the most recent comments by Rubin on not wanting to release Honeycomb source code until it is (a) less of a hack, and (b) implemented so it works well on phones (sort of preempting people wanting to put it on phones when it does not work on them) should have made sense for everybody. If it didn’t, well for you, the above article should clarify.

    I hate people!

    • Then again, some people still think Obama is from Kenya. It never hurts to have somebody in charge come out and set the record straight.

      • LeviGuest 4 years ago

        Oops. Put the response to you on the wrong post :)

      • jiwilliGuest 4 years ago

        Obama is from Kenya. Show me his birth certificate! It doesn’t matter anyway, he is as bad a president as honeycomb is an OS.

  4. ablkidaGuest 4 years ago

    So if its not ready, why do you release honeycomb and xoom? To compete with the iPad? But it’s not competing because the sales of the xoom are lackluster… then why?

    • ari-freeGuest 4 years ago

      Probably for the same reason Microsoft released Windows Me and Vista. They had to release something instead of nothing. Microsoft took many hits for it but they are now smiling with Windows 7 sales and everyone forgot about those Mac vs PC ads.

      Except for t-mobile :)

      • Personally I think that custom UI’s shouldn’t be done away all together but I do believe that every android phone should come with the stock android launcher and then the custom launcher as well kind of like what cyanogen does. That way customers can chose. But Ill take what Andy says with a grain of salt because company’s always say one thing to hide their strategy. The could be trying to stop fragmentation and do not want to upset handset makers.

    • LeviGuest 4 years ago

      Actually, they are competing. And the Xoom sales at a 100k the first month are not bad. The iPad’s sales are a different ball game, of course, but in the non-iPad category the Xoom is doing very well.

      They released the Xoom and a hack job Honeycomb to ensure that it does not look like they are playing catch up. But they are, no doubt about it, as highlighted by bugs, SD card not functioning, availability of tablet apps, benchmarks seriously sucking compared to the iPad 2, and etc.

      I was talking to the wife of a Google employee (completely different division) and she received internal advice not to buy a Google tablet before the fall I suspect this will be the time when the hack job we call Honeycomb will be fixed (Ice Cream?) and widely available on hardware. She was contemplating buying an iPad 2 for both herself and her husband. But by the fall we might even have an iPad 3 if rumors are correct. I seriously doubt the playing catch up role will go away in the next year and a half. Apple has it locked in. But in the long run Android could eat the iPad like it ate the iPhone. But lets not get ahead of ourselves.

      • Strauss & CoGuest 4 years ago

        Yeah, i got an iPad 2 too. Its marvellous…

      • jjl84Guest 4 years ago

        Have you played with the XOOM? Is it perfect? No. Is it a “hacked together OS?” Absolutely not. I love mine and have little problems with it. So much more fun to use compared to my father-in-law’s iPad2 with row after row of icons in no apparent order. I’m just not understanding this “hacked together” rhetoric.

      • Strauss & CoGuest 4 years ago

        Yeah, i got an iPad 2 too. Its marvellous….

  5. RyanGuest 4 years ago

    That is definitely good news, because we really need the devs to make this OS everything it’s capable of. I’m tired of playing with these Android tabs and them being laggy as hell, so that’s awesome that the devs will have an easier job of fixing it for us!

  6. gave upGuest 4 years ago

    seems like android is a complete waste of time and efforts! this guy has no clue and honeycomb seems to be disaster of nuclear epicness! it isnt finished nor will it ever, they are desperately throwing source codes of junk together and expect it to taste like honey. boy is he wrong!

    • gave upGuest 4 years ago

      seems like android is a complete waste of time and efforts! this guy has no clue and honeycomb seems to be disaster of nuclear epicness! it isnt finished nor will it ever, they are desperately throwing source codes of junk together and expect it to taste like honey. boy is he wrong!!

  7. EdzillaGuest 4 years ago

    The thing is, no matter what he says, what they have done so far (ie, not releasing the code for the honeycomb that’s in the XOOM) is illegal.
    Under the licence they have agreed to (the GPL, for the linux kernel), you HAVE to give access to the code.
    Taken from the GPLv2:

    3. You may copy and distribute the Program [...] in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

    a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code [...]; or,
    b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code[...];

    So, until they do, they are blatantly NON open.

    • NotReleventGuest 4 years ago

      Only problem with your flawed argument, is that the user space portion of android is not GPL code and does not have to be, therefore it’s not illegal to not release the code right away.

      The kernel code (ie. the only GPL’ed part) for the XOOM is available and has been since way before the XOOM was called the XOOM.

    • Josh WhiteGuest 4 years ago

      if I remember correctly, android is built on top of the linux kernel, not a derivative work. Linus himself just recently said that google is not in violation for simply accessing the linux api. In the same way a program runs on an OS, android runs ON TOP OF linux. The linux code that android uses is already available, have at it. The rest of android (the software stack on top of linux) is NOT affected by linux’s GPL.

    • J.Guest 4 years ago

      In addition to everyone else’s accurate counters to your somewhat flawed argument, there’s also this to consider – By licence, they are only compelled to make those portions under GPL2.0 available to *owners of the device*.

  8. DamienGuest 4 years ago

    I like that Andy Rubin isn’t trying to kill off custom UI’s. Heck, alongside stock Android, I absolutely love Sense UI. But I do wish they’d get a handle on the OS version fragmentation.

    My close friend came up to me about a month ago and excitedly told me that her Epic 4G had just been updated with the “new” version of Android. (She was mostly glad because she had run into apps that require Froyo.) She was so happy and actually said “I feel like I have a new phone now!” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’ve had Froyo for nearly 7 months.

    On some level, the fragmentation is a little embarrassing. And if Android is going to make their products “sticky” to mainstream sers (you know, those like my friend who doesn’t read tech blogs), then their going to have to do something about it soon or later. Hopefully sooner.

  9. GUy BaileyGuest 4 years ago

    Anybody else thinks he looks completely ridiculous in that photo?

    • PaulGuest 4 years ago

      Heh. I think he was just showing off his toy helicopter.

  10. daveGuest 4 years ago

    All Google should do re:Customized UIs, is make sure that they can be turned off/switched ala Lancherpro, AWN et al.

    If you could turn-off motoblur/sense/touchwiz – then it would allow OEM customization and yet avoid some of the update/fragmentation issues.,

  11. STEVE JGuest 4 years ago

    HE LOOKS LIKE A DRUNK BUM

  12. no problems so far on my xoom – rooted + kernel @ 1.5ghz. 15 hours of intense usage coupled with about 12 hours of idle time and it was still running …

    1 force close = Google Body
    1 thing I dislike = the keyboard

    good thing in both cases, things can change. Good luck changing the keyboard on iOS.