Google's Android also comes with a 'kill switch'

Search giant is following Apple's App Store lead in releasing its mobile operating system's "market" with a feature that lets it control which third-party applications make the cut.

The world was up in arms when it was discovered that Apple's iPhone comes with a "kill switch" that "allows Apple to remotely delete malicious or inappropriate applications stored on the device." That terrible, proprietary, all-controlling Apple!

Well, as it turns out, Google's open-source Android comes with a similar feature, as reported by Computerworld:

In the Android Market terms of service, Google expressly says that it might remotely remove an application from user phones. "Google may discover a product that violates the developer distribution agreement...in such an instance, Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your device at its sole discretion," the terms, linked to from the phone, read.

So far, Google is getting a free pass on its kill switch, perhaps because it has been more open about the "feature," as Computerworld suggests, or perhaps because, unlike Apple, which vets applications in its App Store, this may be the only way Google can protect users from malicious applications added to its Android Market, which allows any apps through the door and onto devices like the T-Mobile G1. Google enables freedom to put applications onto its Android-based phones, but it reserves the freedom to yank them off, should it want to do so.

Prudent? Yes. Android customers, however, will have to depend upon Google's anti-evil promise .

It would actually be quite funny to see what Google would do if Microsoft or Apple put an application on the Android Market that installed Windows Mobile or Apple's iPhone software over Android. Worthy of the kill switch?

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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