Google takes aim at dodgy apps

What's the biggest difference between Google's Android smartphones and Apple's iOS devices? No, not the different look or the funky desktop widgets. No, it's the approach to software. Both systems require users to install software through a central distributor: Apple's App Store or Google's Android Market. But while Apple tightly controls what software can be in the App Store, Google's pretty relaxed about what goes in the Market.

So relaxed, in fact, that in the last couple of weeks a few applications have been in there that are downright dangerous, existing purely to steal user data. And 260,000 unlucky users have downloaded these applications. Fortunately so far they've apparently only leaked users' IMEI numbers, which the makers of the dodgy apps can't do much with. Still, Google has been under pressure to take some action.

And now they have. Not only have the applications been removed from the Android Market, Google's activated a so-called 'remote kill' option which deactivates the software from users' handsets. If you're an Android user, you'll know if you're affected from an email from Google notifying you, and a new security app will appear on your phone that'll automatically watch out for offending software and remove it.

Kudos to Google for dealing pretty promptly with this. But this incident will draw attention to the fact that while many people like Google's free-and-easy approach to Android software, it does carry some risks. Something to think about when you're choosing between that new iPad 2 and some of the upcoming range of Android tablets...

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