Unlocked developer Android G1 hobbled

February 26th, 2009

Macworld reports, in Google blocks paid apps for unlocked G1 users, that Google made a recent change in the capabilities of the unlocked G1 Android phone.

“People who bought an unlocked version of the Android G1 phone are no longer allowed to download new paid applications from the Market, after a change Google made late last week. Google is prohibiting users of the unlocked phones from viewing copy-protected applications, including those that cost to download.”

Gizmodo describes the reason, or a least one very plausible one.

“The problem lies in the phone’s full software permissions. Consumer Android phones download paid content to a private, hidden apps folder, inaccessible to the user. Thing is, as is stands, this normally inaccessible folder is accessible on the dev phones. Not only does this let people flat out copy and redistribute apps—it enables a sort of app laundering scam, in which someone buys an app, copies it to another location, and gets a refund for the app (as per the Marketplace’s 24-hour return policy), only to reinstall the copied version later.”

We purchased an unlocked G1 last month and are using it in several research projects. Not being able to access the paid apps should not be a showstopper, but it would be nice to try some out, so I hope a solution to this problem can be worked out soon.