Is Google’s ‘Anything Goes’ Policy Hurting the Android Market Reputation?

Every handset maker is busy trying to eke out the best possible way to lure users to their own version of the App Store. In a bid to be both developer as well as customer friendly, they are trying to beat down each other in terms of the T&Cs’ laid down.  Some are even prepared to pull their own home grown apps if another developer’s version is found to be more enchanting.

Google’s intentions with its Android Market cannot be questioned, owing to rich customer and developer centric policies. Now  its policy to allow any and every app to be put on the Market… well, that was questioned right from the start.  And its now that the question is even more relevant, thanks to a memory performance app called MemoryUp from eMobiStudio.   By now, most are well acquainted with the havoc it created when G1 users downloaded it from the Market. They suddenly found their mobile handset to be an amnesiac, having forgotten everything from the contacts to their personal data.  Call it a “killer” app.

The Android Market needs better policing in terms of the kind of apps that are uploaded as well as their relative effect on the handsets.  At least a little bit of consideration for the underlying hood before the app receives final approval. Google might fear that this would chase away a few developers from their Market – a logical thought.  On the contrary, there are also developers who would advocate better quality control.  Some form of QA validation means that users need not fear anymore about the authenticity of the app.

With the RIM’s StoreFront slotted to debut this March, the competition for providing their users with the best kind of apps is intensifying and Google would love to make sure they don’t get embarassed by any further mis-apps anymore.   It might well have plans up its sleeve to try and tweak with its litany of policies without affecting the developers’ sentiment.

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  • SteveC

    I can tell you most definately that the unbridled comments by some immature people on the Market Place has offended me. I am tired of looking at app comments only to find childish things like “Im first” posted by someone just because they think their comment is the first one posted to that particular app. In addition, their is just nonsensical, foul-mouthed text in many cases that one has to wade through. Some of the ratings are so messed up that you don’t really get a clear picture of an apps usefulness.

    I vote that Google should police the Market Place better. It’s a pity that things have to be this way but some people just have no restraint.

  • A S

    Good post. I have the following recommendation for evaluating apps and weaning out potentially harmful ones from the market:

    1. Have a system of volunteer beta testers for the apps. An appropriate reward system could be setup to encourage and reward the efforts of the volunteer testers.

    2. Release every app as a beta version to the market place. An app can move out of beta only if it gets approval stamps from at least 3 beta testers or 15 regular users. (1 beta tester = 5 regular users).

    3. All users understand that if an app has not moved out of beta, it could be risky to install and use it.

    A S

  • Robert barrett

    Is it possible a terroist could make a program that causes all the Android phones to be damaged and send damaging code to everyone on thier address book? It seems possible as they are not screened.

  • I love this site, but I THOUGHT another site was declaring that the Memory-Up rumor was COMPLETELY BOGUS, as VERIFIED BY SOME GOOGLE ENGINEERS. If so, we need to be MORE CAREFUL about what we are saying …. (btw, I’ve never used Memory-up, or whatever it’s called).

  • Jon Colverson

    MemoryUp did not cause the problems that were attributed to it. It was a pointless app that didn’t do anything useful, but it was not malicious and didn’t cause any harm. See this Wired story for a quote from a Google spokeswoman.

    Android has an excellent security model and so it is a very safe platform. That’s not to say that malware is impossible, but the risks are well-defined (if an app doesn’t request your permission to write contacts then it CANNOT modify your contacts), and there is a flagging mechanism so that harmful apps can be reported and quickly removed.

    The openness of the Android Market will not harm its reputation, but inaccurate news based on unsubstantiated rumors may do.

  • justAPhoneUser

    The system is just fine the way it is. You are WARNED if an app will access your address book, the web, dialer, location, etc. A poorly rated app, with warnings should simply not be installed. If someone can not follow that common sense logic, then just imagine what they may have installed on their desktop computer!

    As for Roberts post, it is not possible for an app to install itself or any other code on another android device. The other user would need to choose to install the app. Androids security is very tight.

  • stevo

    Good article. The app market comment section needs moderation. I can’t find much helpful feedback other than spam and immature comments. Once we have a better comment section we can better see how the app has been tested and the devs can get some real feedback. If there was truly a horrible app then why would anybody submit it. I never downloaded memoryup although I was tempted.

  • BoD

    I agree 100% with the previous post (by stevo). The comments are currently horrible and NEED to be moderated in some way. In the see of “first post”, “ FREE G1 WALLPAPERS”, “cupcake”, “we want flash player” and other insanities, I’m sure there are GOOD comments.
    Maybe forcing users to be logged in to post a comment (so we can know who are the ‘bad’ users) and a simple “did you find this comment useful?” button could be a start. Also, a way to report bad comments.

    I’m hoping Google is working on it already…

    For the rest, once the comments and ratings are of good quality, there will be not be need for Google to test/authorize/reject apps: the users should be able to use the comments and ratings to decide if an app should be tried or not.

  • chefgon

    Marketplace security is perfectly fine. If you’re downloading a flashlight app that requires access to your phone book and full internet access, you’re just begging to get owned. Android has a fantastic permissions model that makes unknown access to your data impossible.

    What we really need is the ability to “downrank” comments. Just like many blogs, if somebody is posting spam and wasting everybody’s time, they will be downranked and have their comment deleted within minutes because the vast majority of users desire to have a clean market.

  • I wrote a app for Android before the official one was released, and fell for Google’s suggestion for a “Release Early, Release Often” approach.

    So I marked the app as BETA, at least once a week, and wrote about the issues still outstanding. The comments were humbling. It’s worse than YouTube, some comments had no relevance to the application whatsoever!

    Out of nearly 3,000 downloads and over a hundred comments, I think I got about 10 useful comments. The quality is really, really poor.

    Google mentioned that they are implementing a “report abuse” system for comments and I think this will solve all issues whilst keeping everyone’s freedom of speech.

    Adverts are also a problem inside comments.

  • AndroidGuys

    Todd, it was in fact found that MemoryUp was not really a malicious app. I believe it was a bunch of stink over some unfounded claims. All in all, there ought to be something like comment ranking implemented. Hopefully, people won’t waste their comments once they are paying for the apps.


  • I second that thought. BTW, is there ANY word on when the NEXT promised date for commercial apps is? I really didn’t think Google would let that date slip …

    Thanks for the excellent site !

  • they should design their apps and websites to be the best not have an open door policy.

  • quality is the most important factor. An open policy is shady.

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