The Android Dev Phone 1 is very similar to the T-Mobile G1, but it has a different design, and it's SIM-unlocked and hardware-unlocked. The $400 smartphone is aimed at developers who want an easy way to test applications on a physical device without having to sign up for a wireless service contract.
Google recently allowed paid applications in the Android Market, but users of the Dev Phone found out earlier this week they could not view any of these copy-protected applications downloaded from the store.
"These phones give developers of handset software permissions to all aspects of the device," Google said in a statement. "We aren't distributing copy-protected applications to these phones in order to minimize unauthorized copy of the applications."
Google did not offer many details on the decision, but the blog Starzzere points out that Android's copy-protected applications use location for security, rather than digital rights management software. Paid apps are downloaded to a private folder that most Android users don't have access to. But Dev Phone users can access this and could potentially copy the program and use the Android Market's 24-hour return policy to essentially pirate apps.
The move has not gone over well for some Android developers, as it could block content creators from viewing their finished products.
"A few of my coworkers are up in arms about this as well since they are developing software for Android-powered netbooks and Internet tablets," wrote one developer on Google's Android forums. "There is no reason to prevent users from gaining root access on such devices, but I am assuming now that the distributors will have to disable root access to receive market support on their device. This whole thing disgusts me."
Mobile applications are becoming an increasingly important way to increase the productivity of smartphone users, but they bring up questions about policies and security. InformationWeek evaluated the best practices for deploying smartphones. Download the report (registration required).