An application for the Android-powered T-Mobile G1 is allegedly wiping users' data and sending spam to their contacts, and it raises questions about Google's approach to its application market.
The application, eMobiStudio's MemoryUp, received numerous complaints and low rankings in the Android Market. The program is supposed to optimize the G1's memory to make it run more efficiently, but multiple users said it deletes data from the handset and SD cards, and it sends advertising to users' contacts.
"Do not download. Destroyed my memory card/system delete," read one review. "Then my e-mail was spammed. T-Mobile can't stop you from downloading this! So don't!"
The developer denies its program is responsible for the damage and said it was reaching out to those with problems.
"MemoryUp is just such a simple application which does not require any permissions to access user data or SD cards," Robert Lee, chief technical associate for eMobiStudio, told Wired. "It does not require to connect to the Internet so how can it manage to do all these bad things without asking for any access permission?"
When Google introduced its App Store competitor, the search company said it chose the term "market" instead of "store" because it wanted to developers to have an "unobstructed environment" to distribute their content. By contrast, Apple has a strict approval process for what gets in its store, and it restricts what types of programs can be created.
Google said the open policy is meant to drive innovation. For example, Apple doesn't allow alternative music players to be created for the iPhone 3G, but the Android Market is filled with music programs that one-up the G1's on-board player.
But some have feared this open policy could lead to malicious programs that do not get discovered until multiple Android users have been taken advantage of. Google has said if an application is deemed harmful or inappropriate, users can flag it, give it a low rating, leave a detailed comment, and remove it from the device.
"Once flagged by users, applications are reviewed and harmful or inappropriate applications are removed from the Market," a Google spokesperson said. "Abusive developers can also be blocked from using the Android Market if their content is deemed malicious."
The MemoryUp application was removed from the Android Market this morning, and it's unclear who pulled it. Google and eMobiStudio had not responded to inquiries for comment as of press time.