The first Google Android phone won't be publicly available until next week but it's already embroiled in its first controversy. Did you expect anything less?
Like the Apple iPhone, the T-Mobile G1 has been tagged with rumors, criticism, but, perhaps ultimately most importantly, buzz long before the final design was even finished.
Now, ComputerWorld has reported that the first device to run on Google's Android operating system comes with a built-in kill switch that can wipe out applications from the device if Google feels the software 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," according to the user contract terms of Google's Android Market, which will sell its own and third-party applications online.
Sound familiar? It should. Apple was lambasted for not initially telling iPhone users about a similar feature that allows the company to wipe out any applications that it says violate its developers contract. Apple fessed up to the feature only after it had been discovered by users. Perhaps learning from that mistake, Google chose to acknowledge the kill switch up front, even if it's buried in the terms and conditions.
The difference is that Apple is more stringent on software available in its Apps Store, while Google's Android Market is meant to be a "user-driven" environment.
"We chose the term 'market' rather than 'store' because we feel that developers should have an open and unobstructed environment to make their content available," wrote Google's Eric Chu on August 28 on the company's Android blog.
On Thursday, several third-party applications were showcased on Android Market, including "BreadCrumbz," a picture navigation program, and good ol' "Pac-Man."