Android features kill-switch

October 17, 2008 | 12:46

Tags: #android #android-market #blacklist #dream #drm #g1 #kill-switch #killswitch

Companies: #google

Although Google are taking a different approach to a mobile 'phone operating platform than Apple with the new Android OS, there's at least one thing they're borrowing from the iPhone: the application kill-switch.

According to ComputerWorld, the terms of service documentation for the Android Market, on which developers can publish applications to be purchased and downloaded for handsets running Android, states that “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.

Anyone familiar with the iPhone blacklist will be hearing some echoes there, as the approach mirrors Apple's centralised control over the content installed on customers' handsets. Where the two differ, however, is in transparency. While the functionality is the same – and just as objectionable to some – the method by which the news got out is very different indeed: whereas it took a curious engineer digging around hidden parts of the iPhone OS to discover the presence of the remote application blacklist and force Apple into a confession, Google's equivalent is right in the user agreement for anyone to read – although not exactly advertised.

Another instance of Google trying to be a little friendlier about its centralised power trip than Apple is with the statement that the company will make “reasonable efforts to recover the purchase price of the product [...] from the original developer on your behalf” if it does use its power to remotely remove a purchased package from your handset.

Whether these compromises will make Google's kill-switch any easier for people to swallow that Apple's version remains to be seen. Although there are legitimate reasons for such functionality to exist – especially with the Android Market, which doesn't feature the rigorous vetting procedure Apple forces developers to go through before apps are published – it's always a bit unnerving to know that any given application on your handset could disappear at the touch of a button somewhere in Mountain View.

Do you think that Google have done everything they can to make the kill-switch functionality less obnoxious than Apple's equivalent, or are the two identically intrusive? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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