If you’re itching to get the new HTC Aria on AT&T you’d better be happy with the programs in the Android Market because the device won’t allow unsigned apps (apps outside of the Android Market) to be installed.
This isn’t the first time this has happened, as the second-largest carrier also blocked programs from outside the Android Market on the Motorola BackFlip. I think this is a needless restriction because you have to enable outside apps anyways and most mainstream users won’t ever do this. This move just punishes the tinkerers and the hardcore Android fans.
So, in order to be reasonable, I have to say that AT&T has every right to do this. It’s a carrier-branded device and I’m sure that it is not allowing outside apps in order to maintain a certain experience, as well as for security reasons. But this does deprive users of cool apps that aren’t in the market like Swype.
Another way to look at it is that this is the ultimate promise of Android. It’s an open source operating system that has been built to be customizable by handset makers and carriers. While I don’t agree that this is best approach for consumers, the little green robot is serving at least one of its purposes for AT&T.
Interestingly enough, the Aria uses Google as its default search while the Backflip had Yahoo. We know there was a search agreement in place between the carrier and Yahoo so I’m not quite sure what the deal is.
Regardless, the Aria looks like a mighty fine device (look for our full review shortly). It packs a 5-megapixel camera, WiFi, 3G, Android 2.1 and a 3.2-inch HVGA display into a delightfully small package. It gives AT&T’s Android portfolio a shot in the arm and the second-largest U.S. carrier is expected to have plenty more phones with the little green robot by the end of the year.
Is the lack of outside apps a problem for you or is this just a minor issue that won’t rile up anyone except hardcore geeks?
[hat tip to Eric Zemen]