Android Has Remote Kill Switch

Joining Apple, Google will have the ability to remotely remove software from Android-powered devices if third-party developers violate certain terms.

Marin Perez, Contributor

October 16, 2008

2 Min Read

Like Apple, Google will have a remote "kill switch" that will enable it to unilaterally remove software from Android devices.

"Google may discover a product that violates the developer distribution agreement ... in such an instance, Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your device at its sole discretion," according to the terms of service for the Android Market.

There was a bit of an online uproar when a hacker discovered Apple had the ability to remotely remove applications from its iPhone handsets. Apple CEO Steve Jobs eventually admitted it, saying it was necessary in case the company had inadvertently allowed malicious programs to be downloaded through its App Store.

"Hopefully, we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull," Jobs told The Wall Street Journal.

The rationale for Google's "kill switch" is probably similar to Apple's, but being up front about it may make Android users more receptive to it. Additionally, the Android Market will not have the same restrictive vetting process that the App Store has, so there is a greater potential for malicious programs to get to Android handsets.

But Google said if it has to remove applications, the end user will get a refund. The search company said it will make "reasonable efforts to recover the purchase price of the product ... from the original developer at your behalf." This issue still remains unclear if Apple remotely deletes an app on an iPhone.

T-Mobile is set to launch the first Android-powered handset -- the G1 -- next week, and the Android Market is expected to play a major role in whether the platform is widely adopted or not.

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