AT&T Cripples Another Android DeviceAT&T Cripples Another Android Device
AT&T's second Android device, the HTC Aria, bears the same crippling feature that AT&T's first Android device had: No non-market apps.
June 16, 2010
The HTC Aria goes on sale through AT&T in just a few days for the price of $130 (after rebate). The Aria is a solid device with lots of features, except one: Freedom.
As it did with the Motorola Backflip, AT&T has restricted the Aria from using off-market applications. What does that mean, exactly? There's a little permissions switch that users can turn on/off that allows them to install applications from outside the Android Market. This has been a key feature for me, because I often test beta and pre-release software that isn't available from the Android Market. By blocking what Android refers to as "untrusted" apps, it reduces the flexibility of the platform. This restrictions with respect to the off-market applications is downright infuriating. Take Swype, for instance. Swype is software for touch phones that allows users to trace letters on a software QWERTY keyboard to spell words rather than type them out. The software is smart and guesses what you're trying to type. Swype has been offering its software as a beta download for several months. HTC Aria owners won't be able to use it, though, because it is off market. The same is true for myriad other applications. Why is this? AT&T is, as far as I know, the only U.S. carrier to block off-market applications from Android devices. Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless all allow their Android devices to install off-market apps. I really have to wonder if this is because of some contractual obligation AT&T has with Apple and the iPhone, or if it's simply because AT&T is mean-spirited. Whatever the reason, it cripples what is otherwise a great smartphone.
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