17 September 2008

Google says OHA operators must agree to user choice on apps

Filed under: OHA, OSiM, security — David Wood @ 7:56 am

Mike Jennings, Android Developer Advocate for Google, faced a range of questions about security from attendees at the OSiM (Open Source in Mobile) conference here in Berlin this morning.

He confirmed, several times that, for Android phones:

  • “Users don’t need anyone’s permission to install apps”
  • “Developers don’t need anyone’s permission to deploy apps”.

This vision is all the more attractive, given the further point that

  • “All apps can integrate deeply with the system”.

The model, as Mike Jennings explained, is that each app needs to tell users what capabilities they will use – for example, to make a phone call, or to access the address book – and the user will decide whether to permit the application.

Questions from the audience tried to drill into that point: won’t network operators seek additional control, to protect their network, to prevent malware, or to avoid revenue bypass?

The answer is, apparently, that all operators who sign up to the OHA (Open Handset Alliance) need to agree to allow the degree of openness described above.

According to this report from TechRadar, similar questions arose in a session in London yesterday morning:

When quizzed about operators by a keen developer who branded them ‘bastards’ for hating VoIP apps and the like, Jennings replied “there’s been a lot of technological advances with Android, but there’s a lot of political advances that have taken place for [some] carriers to go with our vision of being more open,” adding that carriers were now seeing that more development was needed.

I suspect we haven’t heard the last of this. It seems implausible to me that operators will be comfortable in trusting users to this extent – including those who may be inebriated while in the pub, or who fall into an over-trusting “yes, yes, yes” rut while installing apps.

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