AT&T explains why they don’t allow non-Android Market app downloads

It’s been a long time coming, but AT&T has finally put to paper their reasoning as to why they do not allow their Android smartphones to download applications outside of the Android Market. The carrier’s explanation, while  acceptable in it’s reasoning, still won’t make many users any happier.

According to Android Frequently Asked Questions on AT&T’s site, one of the most asked questions has been answered. How long as this answer been posted, you ask? No idea. Like AndroidGuys, I was completely unaware of the dedicated Android page for AT&T.

Q. Why can’t apps be installed from sources outside of the Android Market?
A. Android Market, managed by Google, is open to all developers. There is no approval process for applications, they are all accepted by default and Google has stated that they place apps in the Android Market within 24 hours of their submission. AT&T selected Android Market as the exclusive source for applications because it forces developers to be accountable for the apps they submit. If the Android community has issues with an app, the app can be flagged and removed. This minimizes the risk of malicious apps harming customers and provides more protection to the customer’s private data stored on the phone.

Ok, I think we can buy that. AT&T’s answer is completely understandable and clear, and it’s hard to argue with putting consumer security and app accountability ahead of the minority’s desire to install non-Android Market apps. Oh, but argue we shall.

With applications like Norton Smartphone Security now available for Android devices, there should be less concern as to which avenue an application comes from. This may not be a good enough reason for AT&T to start allowing application downloads outside of the Android Market, but it’s good enough for any users looking to buy one of the carrier’s so far unimpressive Android phons. While I won’t go so far to say that AT&T has crippled their Android devices, they are definitely hampering them. The phone belongs to the user, and they should have every right to download their applications wherever they want if the OS allows it.

But, on the other side, AT&T has every right to block this. Android is open-sourced, and carriers and manufacturers can add and remove features as they see fit, which is why you’ll find some Android devices sans the Android Market, and some phones with useless applications pre-installed (Hello, EVO). When Verizon was rumored to get on the Android bandwagon, many people believed that they would just ruin the OS completely. Instead, they didn’t touch it, and if they did, it was in the form of an opt-in sort of way. They brought genuine Android to the table without taking anything away from it.

AT&T’s decision to do this may be sane, but it’s just annoying. This makes it difficult for users who want to download unreleased beta apps that are only available online, and difficult for developers who want to test their application on a device, instead of the Android SDK’s emulator. It’s easy to see why AT&T is in bed with Apple – they have the same controlling view points.

Do you think AT&T should allow users to download applications from wherever the hell they want? Sound off in the comments!

[Via: AndroidGuys, AT&T]

  • bstr

    In all android versions I've used, non-market downloads are turned off by default. The user has to consciously check the box to allow it. This is enough to protect unwitting users and satisfy the brave and tech savvy. Why do they have to mess with the formula?

    • kd

      This is the kind of mentality that will kill the Galaxy Tab! I have been considering purchasing a Tab but have not because I have not been able to figure out what carriers screwed theirs up. The ability to install apps from any source is one of the Android selling points. With this, you might as well go with an iPhone or iPad. Very sad!!! A note to the carriers – QUIT SCREWING WITH THINGS

  • Bogart

    Down with ATT. I'm now glad to be in T-mobile, which most thinks is not good too, but I'm willing to take the chance. And my Nexus One is awesome!

  • Charles

    At&T is stupid. They have bad reception, service, and shouldn't have android phones because they don't know how to handle them.

  • perplexed guide

    This is yet another reason I bought the Google Nexus One (ATT 3G Version) unlocked directly from Google, ATT never got their hands on it and I am completely free to download Apps from anywhere! When in doubt buy the Google Nexus One.

  • blsc

    thats insane
    if i run a linux desktop does that mean rogers (my isp) can tell me what im allowed to install and not allowed? no
    the reason imo is simply to increase data usage over atnts network and prevent ppl like me from bluetoothing an app to their phone.
    if u cant figure out that something MAY be malicious, would you really be looking anywhere other than the marketplace? the purpose of open source is defeated when someone says "open source…. but u can only use the apps i approve"
    also what of previous versions? the market version of "taps of fire" crashes but the previous distro from the dev's site works fine for me
    the phone belongs to the owner and the service providers job and only job is to provide service
    locking ringtones, preventing mp3s or avis is just ways for them to make more money; and this is just the newest way to do so

  • edwin

    I hope someone find a way to unluck this handicap that AT&T had place on all their android phones. There should be a way to select wether the user allow outside source apps or not, stop making that decision for the cunsumers. I understand that it is save for those users not too smart about their phones but what about the super tech who knows how to avoid viruses and want to use the phone a full capasity.

  • Bbeaupre81

    I got a smartphone so I do as I please for five days now I’ve been tryin to download the game angry birds I its not on the app page n when I finally found it they wouldn’t let me install it for security reasons which has annoyed me to the point that I’m thinkin about sendin this phone back and changin carriers

  • Aaa

    As the owner of the device I shall have the right to make the choice, not AT&T. For this I hate AT&T, period.

  • Random Guy

    AT&T= WCE (Worst.  Carrier.  Ever.)

Back to top ▴