Lawnchair developer exits after finding out it takes code from Pixel Launcher

What you need to know

  • A former developer of Lawnchair posted a telegram about another contributor using code that doesn’t belong to them.
  • The code in question comes from the Google-owned “Pixel Launcher.”
  • The legality of Lawnchair reverse engineering the Pixel Launcher’s code has come into question, seeing as some developers are based in Europe, where the practice isn’t permitted.
  • Lawnchair is an Android launcher, providing users with a way to enjoy a fully customizable experience.

A Lawnchair developer made a public statement about a recent internal finding. The developer claimed to have become aware of another member using pieces of code they do not own.

Patryk Michalik, a core Lawnchair developer, made the statement via Lawnchair News on Telegram. The statement also declared their departure from Lawnchair after learning about what’s been going on. 

Today, I have become aware that one of the other core contributors has been adding to Lawnchair portions of code from a proprietary app whose source code they do not own.”

“I have never been informed of the aforementioned actions, and I strongly disapprove of them. I have never encouraged or engaged in such activity.

Lawnchair (opens in new tab) is a customizable Android launcher whose purpose is to allow users to gain a fully customizable Android experience while keeping “all the features of the Pixel Launcher.”

Since the announcement, additional information has come to light from both Lawnchair’s Twitter and other developers on the team. Lawnchair tweeted (opens in new tab) about the code the developer is referring to from their Telegram post, saying that it has been reverse engineered from the “Pixel launcher.” 

Another developer also chimed in. According to their tweet, the code “has been reverse-engineered since Lawnchair existed.” Although, they clarify that they’ve never “put these features behind a paywall to make profit.”

9to5Google also found that within Lawnchair’s publicly visible source code were several mentions of “nexuslauncher,” which is what Google has labeled the Pixel Launcher internally. The developer from Lawnchair that responded on Twitter referenced reverse engineering being “legally a gray area.” According to Cornell Law School (opens in new tab), “reverse engineering is generally legal.”

However, as pointed out by 9to5Google from Gerrish Legal (opens in new tab), “reverse engineering and decompiling for the purpose of creating a competing product is almost certainly not permitted in Europe.” 

Lawnchair is a popular launcher among those interested in a more customized experience on the best Android phones (opens in new tab). In response to the drama surrounding the code, Lawnchair has confirmed with Android Police that it “aims to remove/replace it” soon.

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