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Android comes with a kill-switch

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Google has put itself in charge of policing Android devices. The search giant is retaining the right to delete applications from Android handsets on a whim.

Unlike Apple, the company has made no attempt to hide its intentions, and includes the details in the Android Market terms and conditions, as spotted by Computer World:

Google may discover a product that violates the developer distribution agreement ... in such an instance, Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your device at its sole discretion.

But the existence of the capability opens more questions about the platform.

The clause only covers applications distributed through the Android Market, but the whole point of Android is that anyone can distribute any applications they like. Mobile publisher Handango has already stated it will be selling Android applications through its web site.

So will Google be able to remove applications installed by someone else? We've asked Handango and the Open Handset Alliance (nominal owners of Android), but haven't heard back as yet.

Such a mechanism also implies that Android devices will be regularly reporting back to Google to download the latest list of unapproved applications.

Quite how that will operate isn't clear, but we've asked the questions and look forward to letting you know exactly how much control Google will be exerting over the G1 once we hear back. ®

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