Apple makes a lot of noise about the size of its iOS app store, and there’s something to be said for selection, sure. But in my view, having the most apps isn’t the same as having the best apps, and I generally like what I get with Android more. Of course, that’s not an objective statement about the merits of the two platforms; it’s a subjective, personal preference. But one thing I don’t like about Android’s App Market is its slightly-too-open open-door policy on app submissions. That’s why I download my apps from Amazon these days.
In contrast to Apple, which has developed something of a complex reputation when it comes to its app approval process, Google prefers to put apps online first and let users discover which ones need to be rejected. It’s an open, crowdsourced policy that’s very much in line with Google’s overall operating philosophy. The upside is that you can get cool apps in the Android Market that have no good equivalents on iOS due for reasons having to do with Apple’s business strategy. The downside is that every once in a while Google has to pull a bunch of apps from its market after users discover security threats embedded in the apps.
Mobile security is a growing concern, and Android is taking the brunt of the heat. But if you get your apps from a third-party app store that actually vets its offerings before putting them online, you can avoid the most serious app-based security threats. So I get my apps from Amazon these days.
Amazon has received some criticism from the app dev community for its approach to vetting and approving apps. One developer complained to me recently that the company had altered his app and without consulting him, and I’ve read of this happening to other developers. While I can’t speak to the truth of it, as a user I don’t know how much I care. What I want is a secure app that will run well on my device. If Amazon’s app team tweaked an app on the developer’s behalf to get it into shape, well, good. It just reinforces my perception that Amazon is deeply engaged in vetting the apps it approves, and it increases my confidence that I’m getting software that won’t steal my data or track my activities without my permission. It’s nice to know somebody’s actually paying attention.
Of course, Amazon isn’t the only Android app reseller, and there will soon be many more. I understand that Verizon Wireless also puts some serious scrutiny into approving apps for its VCAST app store, and I’d have just as much confidence in getting my apps there. Until Google revises its app review process to more proactively weed out potentially harmful apps, I’m less inclined to do any downloading from the Android Market, and more compelled to visit alternative app stores that stand by their offerings.
While the fact that security is even an issue with apps in the Android Market may strike some as an argument for switching to iOS, I view the situation differently. To me, the availability of third-party app markets makes Android a better platform, not a worse one.
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