The Android Kill Switch: Mea Culpa

Over the weekend I wrote a piece which argued that walled gardens were conquering the Internet, and Google’s ability to to remotely delete apps from Android devices effectively turned Android into a “subtler but no less forbidding” walled garden than Apple’s iOS ecosystem.

Today I am pleased to report that on one key point I was completely wrong. I assumed that since Google can remotely delete apps downloaded from Android Market, then they could also use the same mechanism to remotely delete any apps, so long as Android Market is installed on the target device (which is the case for all Google-endorsed Android devices.) It turns out that that was a failure of imagination. My sources inform me that the remote kill switch does not work on apps from other sources.

Right now it’s something of a moot point, since the vast majority of Android apps are downloaded from the Android Market, but rivals like GetJar and Amazon’s app store will increasingly provide significant competition. It’ll be interesting to see if they too come with a remote deletion service. Regardless, kudos to Google for building a system that is more open than I appreciated.

Image credit: Shira Golding, Flickr