AT&T HTC Aria won’t allow outside apps

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]

  • Bill

    The lack of outside apps will not be a problem for me. I've been waiting for a decent (not perfect) smaller form factor Android phone from AT&T. I think that this is it. Glad I passed on the Backflip.

    • cris

      yes me also…i will be a new android owner and that backflip was just not worth it, i was just about leave att when this cutie of a phone came along…..i will am a lil sad about the swype and no flash part though but i have an actual camera for that 🙂

  • Liberty Android Land

    Good thing I looked this far before ordering the AT&T best Android phone they offered!
    Thousands of Android apps and the list grows daily… unless you are ball and chained to AT&T!
    …I've worked with computers from before Tim Berners-Lee wrote the HTTP in CERN in 1991.
    I never could figure out why people use YAHOO search.
    Now… can I get my own phone and still find an "inviting" AT&T contract?
    …or is it just a few more hours down the AT&T drain?

  • Louie

    Bill, that’s not the point. The point being Android’s number one logo is “what iphone can’t, droid does.” meaning complete freedom. Do anything. And this mockery of Android AT&T is doing is just degrading. And why? to brown nose their number one “closed” line phones, the iphone. Apple is a stingy company in the fact that everything is done through ONLY them. finally a release comes and it’s name is Android, and what does AT&T do? flush that down the drain by applying iphone close company attributes.

  • Joomlajay

    It’s a genuine issue. You can’t use any sort of online backup/restore apps like MyBackup Pro b/c when you go to restore – guess what happens? We wasted $5 trying to move my wife’s info from her Aria.
    Very lame – and 1 big reason why I’m a Verizon customer via my work phone.
    This is one huge reason why I can’t stand AT&T.

  • Carolinekane32

    Ugh. It’s actually very frustrating. Of course I find this out *after* I purchase the Aria. I assumed that since the HTC Aria was considered an “Android” phone, that it would be open source and allow outside programs. Boy was I wrong. Kinda wish I had found out about this sooner.

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