Rich Cannings, Android security lead, blogged about remotely removing an app from people’s Android phones [excerpted]:
Recently, we became aware of two free applications built by a security researcher for research purposes. These applications intentionally misrepresented their purpose in order to encourage user downloads, but they were not designed to be used maliciously, and did not have permission to access private data â€” or system resources beyond permission. As the applications were practically useless, most users uninstalled the applications shortly after downloading them.
After the researcher voluntarily removed these applications from Android Market, we decided, per the Android Market Terms of Service, to exercise our remote application removal feature on the remaining installed copies to complete the cleanup.
I’m not sure what terms of service the app maker violated, although I’d guess there’s something in there about not purposefully misrepresenting your app. But John Gruber at Daring Fireball concludes that this is:
…proof that while Android Market is significantly less regulated than Apple’s App Store, it’s not a Wild West free-for-all.
Well, sure. But there seems to me to be a difference in kind, and not just degree, between Google removing an app that’s purposefully misleading and Apple removing apps because it doesn’t meet some vague standard for inoffensive content.
Does this matter? Well, it sure does to Dan Gillmor, who’s switching from Mac to Linux because he doesn’t like Apple’s control over his computer. Dan has been a leading indicator before. I’m not willing to leave my Mac yet, mainly because Apple hasn’t AppStored it yet. (Also, I’m still finding Linux â€” Ubuntu 10.04 â€” to be high maintenance, at least for my desktop activities.) But the competition between Apple and Google, and the continued progress made by desktop Linux, makes me very happy.
See, the system works!