Google has the ability to remotely remove applications from Android devices and yesterday the company did just that.
In 2008, a hacker discovered that Apple could remotely uninstall apps from iPhones after they'd been paid for and installed. Just last year, Amazon remotely removed copies of 1984 from customers' Kindles. It raised eyebrows when we found out Apple could do it and it caused uproar when Amazon actually did it (without saying anything to paying customers). So how will people feel now that it's Google?
Google today announced that it has remotely removed two Android applications from users' phones. The applications in question were developed by a security researcher for research purposes and Google says they intentionally misrepresented their purpose in order to encourage user downloads. The apps were never designed to be used maliciously, and did not have permission to access private data — or system resources beyond permission.INTERNET. In fact, Google said the apps were pretty useless, and most people uninstalled it soon after the downloaded it, anyway.
The developer responsible for the applications is said to have voluntarily removed the apps from the Android Market Place, but Google made the decision to remotely remove the applications from users' phones "to complete the clean up."
Android Security Lead, Rich Cannings, said the remote application removal tool is a security measure to protect against malicious applications and while they, "hope to not have to use it," they know they can take swift action on behalf of their users' safety if they need to.
"This remote removal functionality — along with Android’s unique Application Sandbox and Permissions model, Over-The-Air update system, centralized Market, developer registrations, user-submitted ratings, and application flagging — provides a powerful security advantage to help protect Android users in our open environment," Cannings finished.
Check out his full post on the Android Developers Blog.