updated 04:10 pm EDT, Thu August 28, 2008
Google Android Market
Google today revealed fuller details of Android Market, its previously hinted at store for software for phones based on the Android mobile operating system. Similar to the iPhone's App Store, the portal is hosted by Google itself and is created to give third-party developers a common, easily accessible location to give away or sell their apps. Unlike Apple's screened content, however, the company plans an "open and unobstructed" environment where apps aren't banned for legal content or functions.
The store has a star-based ratings system for users to gauge the worthwhile nature of an app and takes advantage of Google's experience with web data to help developers track the success of their titles over time; security is managed in part by warning the user when an app may require GPS or software access that could potentially compromise a handset.
Android Market will first be available as a beta program preloaded on to new devices that will only allow for free purchases; a system to handle paid apps and with streamlined upgrades, support for different device profiles, and other details should be available shortly after the first device is available this fall.
The strategic announcement sets up a direct conflict between the iPhone 3G and the expected T-Mobile G1, which should be the world's first Android-based phone and will share the same emphasis on a touchscreen interface, 3G data and GPS.
Although both Apple and Google have worked together and have emphasized the importance of exposing all users of a given phone line to apps, Google has stressed the open nature of its Linux-based platform and isn't believed to require publishing through Android Market to load publicly available software. It will also contrast against its fellow California OS designer by giving developers deep access to the phone that extends to components Apple segregates from iPhone developers, including the media player software.