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Android to offer iPhone-like App Store

Google: 'That's our job'

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Google I/O Google will offer an iPhone-like app store for Android, giving developers a central means of distributing applications on its soon-to-be-open-source mobile platform. At least, it looks that way.

Speaking at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Android project leader Andy Rubin didn't officially announce an Android app store, but he pretty much guaranteed it's on the way.

"It would be a great benefit to the Android community to provide a place where people can go to safely and securely download content and where a billing system would allow developers to get paid for their effort," he said. "We wouldn’t have done our job if we didn’t provide something that helps developers get distribution."

Of course, if Google opens an Android app store, there's no guarantee it will actually show on every Android phone. There's no guarantee any of Google's tools will actually show up on phones.

Google is already working with more than 30 mobile industry players on the development of its Linux-based mobile stack, including handset makers and service providers, and you can bet that some OEMs will closely follow Mountain View's lead. But when Google officially releases Android "sometime in the second half of this year," it plans on open sourcing the platform under a freewheelin' Apache license. This means third-parties can tinker all they like.

"They can add to it. They can remove from it. They make it their own," Rubin said. "They can rip out all the Google stuff and put in all Yahoo! stuff."

This goes for entire APIs (application programming interfaces) as well - an obvious a point of concern for some developers mulling apps for the platform. "I see Android and I see all its APIs. What's to stop someone from turning off all those APIs?" one developer asked Rubin.

There's nothing to stop them, Rubin said. But he indicated that Google will provide tools that enable developers to easily verify the make-up of each Android handset. "We're providing a piece of technology - I can't go into a great amount of detail - that tests the APIs," he explained. "This will be a script that you'll be able to run...and determine whether all the APIs are there." ®

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