Verizon Galaxy Nexus

Reports across the Internet about the Verizon Galaxy Nexus being dropped from AOSP support -- or even worse, no longer being updated by Google -- apparently were a bit premature.  Dan Morrill has posted the following to the Android Contributors Google Group:

Hello! This is a quick clarification about support for CDMA devices.

For various technical reasons, recent CDMA Android devices implement core telephony functionality in .apk files provided in binary form by the carriers. To function correctly, these .apk files must be signed by the so-called "platform" key. However, when 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. [...]

He goes on to note that the AOSP documentation was simply updated to reflect this fact, and that they will continue to provide as much of the closed-source material as they can.  

So what does that mean? Signing keys are tricky things. When we build Android from the available AOSP source, we use a specific set of keys to digitally sign all the binaries. When "official" builds are made by Google or manufacturers, they use a different set of keys. When these keys are mismatched, things can get wonky. Google doesn't want your phone (or tablet) to be wonky. The fellow who built that custom ROM you're using doesn't want things to be wonky. If these changes weren't made and brought to everyone's attention, wonkiness would have resulted, and nobody would have known why without a lot of digging around.

Verizon Galaxy Nexus devices are still Nexus devices. They still have unlockable bootloaders. They still have the Android source available. They just have changed the way they redistribute binaries, because of incompatibilities with the signing keys.

Android developers will just have to change the way they build for the Toro (Verizon Galaxy Nexus), the Stingray (the LTE Xoom), and the Crespo 4G (Nexus S 4G). The sky has not fallen, and they'll figure it out.   

Source: Android Contributors

More info: AOSP documentation; Google Support pages (1), (2)

There are 41 comments

TerryMasters says:

No. I refuse to accept this. I didn't walk into the kitchen, grab my pitchfork, light it all up only to be told "False alarm" - something is getting BURNED >:(

Yes, I keep my pitchforks in the kitchen.

Rigelian says:

I'm sure that there is a close by Apple store that would appreciate the visit.

Lol that's pretty awesome

Wait, why do you have a pitchfork in the kitchen? And how do you light a pitchfork on fire?

squiddy20 says:

Pour gasoline, kerosene, bug spray, or alcohol on it, or even slather it in that Sterno stuff, to name a few.
It's really fun to pour one of these flammable substances on a tennis ball, light it, and smack it back and forth between friends on an unused road.
I'm such a pyro... :D

Oh brother don't tell me your here on this site leaving USELESS comments that don't apply to the overall topic at hand. You don't own a Galaxy Nexus so WHY ARE YOU HERE??? Go back to androidandme with your as usual USELESS POSTS. The internet isn't big enough for this IDIOT...

squiddy20 says:

"You don't own a Galaxy Nexus so WHY ARE YOU HERE???"
Under that incredibly faulty and retarded logic, why are YOU posting in articles about the Galaxy S3, HTC Ville, Asus Padfone, Galaxy Note and other Android devices that I KNOW you don't "own" because they aren't even out yet? Riddle me that, Dick. All it takes is stroll through your recent comments: or to find out that what I say is true. Try coming up with some better reasons other than "you don't own x device" or "your comments are useless" and I *might* just actually do as you say. Of course, you've been using those same sayings ad nauseum for the past 2 years and haven't come up with anything else, so I'm not expecting much from a 50 or so year old "man" who acts and spells like a 10 year old. Looks like the joke's on you "idiot".
Also before you call me out, try heeding some of your own advice next time: stick to the "overall topic at hand". Nowhere in all of your uncalled for name calling and idiotic ranting did you even mention anything relating to the article. Dumbass.

DWR_31 says:

This is why the Verizon GNex is not a true GNex.
The same goes for Sprint if they pull this crap with their GNex.

Still rocking my Evo 3D and waiting.

squiddy20 says:

I'm sorry, but "this" isn't due to anything Verizon did or didn't do. If you bothered to read the article, you'd learn that "this" is simply due to CDMA networks (like Verizon and Sprint) requiring other apks that Google is not licensed to hand out all "willy nilly", in order for the phone to communicate with the network. If Google were to do so, and you installed an AOSP ROM that someone created straight from AOSP source, talk text and probably even data would cease to function. READ.

Ryuuie says:

Crespo 4G sounds better than Nexus S 4G, imo. :P

Anyway, this sounds like more of the same "fun" Android already has biggie, maybe?

Lodingi says:

Hmm. So Google is still supporting the Verizon GN. They simply choose to remove all reference of it from their website. Sounds fishy to me.

jerrod6 says:

It's the keys huh? Well someone better figure it out because I will leave Verizon if they don't, and the AT&T Version gets Google Wallet and Verzion customers don't because of Verzion's Corporate direction? Perhaps they need to understand that their direction needs to benefit their customers as well.

Sounds like Verizon has gotten to big for their pants and needs to get taken down a notch.

Verizon is an option the public can use.... they are NOT REQUIRED. People can move to other services and I will if I continue to get the shaft from them.

hoosiercub says:

I can't use any other carriers where I live. Unless I'm ok with EDGE.

Where you gonna go? i left T-Mobile and Sprint both because they're networks just suck (Tmo poor coverage area, Sprint pathetic 3G speeds) here in Los Angeles.

AT&T users are screaming bloody murder over the throttling of data speeds ATT is doing. My twitter feed is flooded with tweets about how they're all gonna cancel and go to VZW in protest.

Unfortunately, each and every carrier has severe issues in someone's mind. Right now, for me, VZW has the best coverage, best sound quality, fastest data. Until something they or Google does actually makes my Gnex less usable, it's nothing to get upset about for me. YMMV.

ilaifire says:

Can somebody more educated please help me with this? Does this mean that I can't get custom ROMS for CDMA versions? I'm waiting for Sprint to release theirs and was hoping to get a costum rom.

Samsung, Motorola, Verizon, and Sprint own all rights to some files in the CDMA Nexus devices.  We'll focus on the radio, because that's what we're familiar with the most.

Google has license to distribute these files to people with a legally bought phone that needs them, but not to modify them in any way.  They are completely closed source.

When you build AOSP, each and every apk file is signed with a digital signature, generated from a signing key.  When Google or Samsung builds the Nexus ROM, they have a different set of keys that create a different signature.

Google's not allowed to resign the radio or other apk files, even if they could.  Their license doesn't permit modification.

When you build AOSP, all your files are signed by the AOSP key, but the CDMA files from Samsng/Motorola are signed by special platform keys.  

When the keys mis-match, things go wrong.  If you build a GSM version following the directions from Google, it all works.  CDMA versions don't.  Never have, never will.  Developers have to do a little magic to make it happen.

They will still be able to do the same magic they have been doing.

Google will still provide the Android source code for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, Sprint Nexus S 4G, and LTE Xoom.

The directions and support docs were updated so nobody tries to build a CDMA device just like a GSM device, and is left with something that can't make calls or use data.  

vansmack says:

Thanks Jerry for both your simple explanation and this detailed reply. It makes things much clearer.

newboyx says:

Thanks for the detailed follow up.

No problem fellas.  This kind of thing is just as important to me as it is to you guys, and I want everyone to understand as best they can.

mustangboy88 says:

Hey Jerry, as far as flashing custom ROMS then (Crespo 4G owner here), is this similar to how HTC unlocks their phones? Like S-on and S-off? Where users can flash custom ROMS but do not have access the baseband and such?

You (Crespo 4G owner) still have complete and unfettered access to all the partitions, and can use fastboot to flash anything you want to any of them.

It's the files themselves that we can't change, and have to flash them as-is.  Since we can't (and Google can't) change the signature on these files, we can't build a fully working ROM for CDMA devices following the standard directions that Google supplies.

That's all that has changed here -- the documentation.  All the files are still the same as they were last week, and ROMs will still continue in full force.

DaEXfactoR says:

So, what that means to me is, I should have followed a lot of smart people's advice and ponied up the extra cheese and bought the unlocked GSM version? What is the real benefit of CDMA technologies? Just seems like a bunch of headaches.

Unless you are a ROM developer this does not even effect you.

Google has a set of instructions on how to create a ROM from AOSP, if a ROM developer had followed the exactly as written they would have found that they did not work for the VZW version. Most ROM devs figured this out already and used their work arounds to get it to work (obviously since there are working ROM's for the VZW Nexus).

The only thing that has happened is that Google has updated their documentation explaining these work arounds so Devs who do not already know about this aren't confused. Nothing more.

DaEXfactoR says:

I read a little more on the subject after I read Jerry's article (thanks Jerry), and I am a little more relieved. I was a bit concerned when I first heard the news, as I just switched to Verizon for the Nexus, and LTE admittedly. I am just saying that I always hear some negative stories when related to CDMA and rarely hear the benefit of the technology. So my friend I wasn't trying to be facetious, but I was honestly posing a question, what are the benefits of CDMA technologies?

DaEXfactoR says:

ok, maybe I was being a little facetious...

meancode says:

Jerry, can you please explain to me why this comment is buried down in the comments, and not what you actually wrote in the post itself?

I mean, talk about burring the lede.

jjrudey says:

As long as the CDMA one is still a dev phone then I won't start rioting

Jayshmay says:

What does AOSP stand for???

Android Open Source Project.  

My bad for not explaining it in the blog post.

Jayshmay says:

Ahh,. . .thx Jerry!

Ricky Babalu says:

So Verizon still has to get their grubby little hands on the Nexus before updates are released? Since they have to include their proprietary code, and push out updates.

aergern says:

NO, Google has the keys but they can not be given to the general public and ASOP src is available to the general public SO .. the build can be done by Google and then they can sign the apks and push out an

I find this to be a weird change since CM has been ASOP for years and supports quite a few CDMA devices ... but we'll see.

CeluGeek says:

Which is why this change still smells fishy. There have been many custom ROMs for CDMA devices in the past, and I don't remember anybody complaining of "My CDMA phone doesn't work as a phone anymore!" Something is going on. Maybe Qualcomm threaten Google with a CDMA patent lawsuit, or something?


I love how kneejerk-y and overdramatic the Internet is. It's no wonder the government is keeping its alien secrets from us; we really ARE that goddamn panicky about every little thing that happens in the world.

robjonson#AC says:

Why the hell are we still using CDMA in this country? I've been to 3rd world countries with my tmo nexus s and still connected at 3g speeds over 5 megs! Without changing sim cards. The Recently discovered that an unlocked gsm galaxy nexus can use either att or tmo and either way you will connect 3g, although tmo was 6 megs and att under 2...
So again, why the hell are we still using sh!Ty CDMA........

aergern says:

Well, within the next year we won't be. It will be VoLTE ie. VoIP over LTE. It's been in the news for the last six months .. when this happens the CDMA chip can just be turned off. It still doesn't help that AT&T, Sprint and VZW won't have the same LTE frequencies but at least they'll ALL be on the same platform and no more silliness like this.

I'm glad they cleared this up though

Dan29466 says:

wait... my phone is a "Toro"? I don't know why, but I freakin' LOVE that fact. Go ahead. Hate all you want. I don't mind.

BTW: my Toro has google wallet and it works great. I bought Slurpees with my free $10. Thanks, Goog.

ahmadddd says:

Still Verizon better than other carriers, I switched to ATT one year ago and the service is horrible, call drops 2 times in a 5 mins call some time more!!! I thought the call drops happens once in a while!

Also people call me and phone never rings then suddenly I get a voice mail !!!

I switched back to Verizon and got the galaxy nexus, with all the reported issues still 100 times better than ATT and not s ingle call drop yet. I installed Google Wallet from XDA and working fine :)

Swavek says:

I guess if things were as everyone feared and google was pulling support, it wouldn't mean the end of the galaxy nexus. it would mean that we'd have to wait for verizon to loosen their tight butt-cheeks and squeeze out an update. that wouldn't be THAT bad since they did *alright* with the original droid.

Swavek says:

I would like to add that even with the worst case scenario, I'd still with Verizon. they are the most reliable carrier in my area. (USA, Indiana)