Today during Google’s Nexus One event, Android lead Andy Rubin revealed something that’s sure to be a relief for Android users and developers alike: you’ll eventually be able to store a vast number of applications on your phone — even large ones — the same way you can on an iPhone. The change will come with a future software update, when Android begins storing applications as encrypted files on the SD card. Rubin didn’t say how long it will be until we see the update, but it’s clear that the team is working to resolve the problem.
Up until now, developers have been hampered by the fact that every Android phone to date has had a relatively small amount of storage available for applications (a couple hundred megabytes as opposed to the iPhone’s many gigabytes). Apps are stored in the phone’s ROM rather than the phone’s removable (and cheaper) SD storage, which grants developers enhanced protection against having their apps pirated. But it’s also proven to be a handicap.
Many of the iPhone’s most popular applications are graphics intensive, rich games. But these games often require high quality visual assets to go with them. The iPhone handles these fine — you can download massive apps over Wi-Fi or through iTunes sync. On the other hand, while the newest Android phones are certainly capable of rendering high quality graphics, their ability to handle large apps is limited by the phone’s available storage. Yes, developers can choose to download their app’s assets to the SD card after the initial install, but this isn’t a good experience for the end user.