We learned of a back-pocket weapon Google has to keep its Android platform and devices secure; Remote Removal. The capability for Google to remotely go into your Android phone and snatch up threatening apps is a little Big Brother, but we’re talking about Google. Nothing new here. And perhaps that overall sentiment is why there hasn’t been much of an uproar over Google’s decision and subsequent action of remotely removing apps.
It may be yet another way to gauge the people’s census of the Android platform versus the iPhone’s platform–when Apple took the liberty of removing apps from its store, the company was faced with a surge of consumer and pundit complaints. As Gizmodo points out, this is likely because of the reasons behind Google’s decision to remove certain apps from Android devices. From the Google developer blog,
“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 — or system resources beyond permission.INTERNET. 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.”
So, why it that Google’s security breaches are a more acceptable reason for remote app removal, versus Apple’s in-store app removal? Beyond this single incident, Google’s Android platform has had a number of other security concerns. Early on in the platform’s development, the worry over Android’s stability left a lot of developers planted firmly in the Apple camp. Is a forced app removal excuse really better than a preference point?
Of course, the central issue is control over a given platform, and its ability to sustain and control an ecosystem. The reasons behind Apple’s app removal don’t seem to consider the consumers, while Google’s reasons are for the safety of consumers. One could argue that Apple’s decisions are for the safety of their consumers as well, but the company isn’t doing the best at conveying that concern to the angry customers and developers that fight Apple’s moral authority on boobs apps.
With the current consumer climate, security is still a major issue with new devices and services. We’re in the midst of a new security growth spurt, which can leave a few sore muscles from time to time. Android’s platform may be stabalizing, but Apple’s landed itself in a new mess of security issues. The iPad in particular has been one of the most unsecure devices to emerge this year.
Nevertheless, demand around Apple devices still exceeds Android, though both are experiencing amazing growth and have come to represent the two major directions for mobile platforms’ future. No matter what the reason, I’m generally going to be for mobile platform security.