Google Launches Android Market

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Community Policing

As with Mozilla Firefox add-ons, Miner expects the community and technical experts to self-filter and police apps, too. As on YouTube, the Market has a rating and user review system.

"Apps that seem to be suspicious don't get downloaded by lots of people. And, we will pull apps if people report they're harmful," Miner says. Google's terms of service include a kill switch, such that they can even remove an app from an Android phone if a developer violates the terms of service.

"It's more difficult for a hacker to get into a Linux-based open source system. It's set up in a way that the app will tell you what the app will be do," Miner adds. "I'm not saying there won't be malware, but we think the benefits of an open system, and the longtail [potential] of having lots of different applications, are worth the introduction of some risk. And that risk is mitigated by the community and the security mechanisms of the open platform."

Multitasking Apps

Another key difference with Android is how the operating system allows for multitasking. That means you can download multiple apps or music tracks at once, for example, or have instant messenger running in the background while you surf the Web.

Take that last example. With the Apple iPhone 3G, if you navigate away from the AOL Instant Messenger application, you're no longer logged into the service; you need to come back to the AIM application and log back in--which means you're not available all the time. With the Android Instant Messenger application, you can navigate away from AIM--and still stay online. You'll even see a notification pop up if you get an instant message when you're not in the app itself.

Once opened, applications don't actually close, explains Miner. "The Android platform has a resource manager, and there's a whole protocol for how apps can be put to sleep by the system [instead of being closed outright]. In the process of that, the Web browser may have gone to sleep, but it will reinstate its context and go back to where it was."

Into Tomorrow

An important point about Market is that, clearly, Google intends for Market apps to extend its mobile operating system's capabilities--and the handset's abilities, too, for that matter. This means mobile phones are less stagnant than they were previously, and can become animated devices that evolve with time.

For example, although the T-Mobile G-1 doesn't support the stereo Bluetooth profile or have a video camera, T-Mobile is quick to point out that these features aren't there "at launch." Nor is there a video player app with the phone. But, an app could certainly come along to use the 3-megapixel camera's sensor to capture video, T-Mobile says; and already, at least one video player app is available on Market, for playing a variety of file types.

T-Mobile says it will offer branded apps for its customers, such as a T-Mobile HotSpot app. Likewise, Google may have similar plans: At launch, Android lacks a dedicated Google Docs icon, but this could be added later through a simple Market download. And some third party can add a notepad and Microsoft Office and Adobe PDF viewing, too--capabilities that currently don't exist in Android (as represented on the T-Mobile G1).

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At a Glance
  • The G1 has great call quality and does a good job of melding hardware with the Android operating system.


    • Highly responsive touchscreen
    • Android OS offers great flexibility


    • No standard headphone jack
    • Fair battery life
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