I want to react to some of the comments on the XDA article about Google's QA on AOSP (read: http://www.xda-developers.com/android/google-aosp-qa-team-lollipop/
), from a custom ROM developer point of view.
While custom ROMs users is a minority (though, a majority on XDA I suppose), a bad support of AOSP is a bad thing for all custom ROMs.
By "bad support", I mean both the lack of tests (resulting in crashes in AOSP apps), as well as the closing down of more and more previously AOSP apps (Calendar is now left out, along with Mms, Music, Browser, ...).
It has multiple implications:
- We're left with a broken system even before any kind of change the team might make, leaving you users unhappy because "it's unstable!!11!!".
- We cannot do ANY enhancement on top of Google's changes for the closed apps. If you want us to add a feature on the new Calendar app, we can't. If you want us to add a new feature on the new "Messenger" app, we can't.
That means even more work for us. We have to fix what's broken, and we have to either Reverse Engineer or re-code from the ground up new apps to replace Google Apps so that we can add new features to them.
This means one more thing:
- Our versions of the apps will clash against Google versions. They will make changes, we will make changes, but we will have to copy their changes (ie. RE or code them, once again) to keep things up-to-date, instead of just having to merge both repositories like we could do so far.
Ultimately, if every stock app is closed down, custom ROMs will become either just slightly changed stock AOSP running Google Apps, or will turn into OEM skins with all stock apps (can we still define what are stock apps?)
Don't get me wrong, I do use Google Apps and Google Services, and I'm not against having some Google-proprietary apps (Gmail, Drive, etc). But not updating MMS app in favor of Hangouts/Bugle, not updating Email app in favor of Gmail, not updating Calendar in favor of Google Calendar, not updating Music, Gallery, ... is more a bad thing than a good thing if you're using custom ROMs, because then you won't be tied to your OEM apps, but to Google apps. And if you don't like a particular aspect of an app, well, too bad.
This also opens up new opportunities of bringing open source alternative to proprietary apps (one of the things Omni is committed to), but re-doing all the base apps and updating them to match the design of the current Google-version of the apps is a gigantic task.
Sure, there are many alternatives already on the Play Store or other marketplaces, but IMHO people trying out custom ROMs expect an enhanced AOSP experience - ie. enhanced stock apps, not other apps.
We'll see how the music rolls.