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Alternative Android Market To House Banned Apps 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-are-the-fun-apps-are dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "In contrast to the Apple's iron-fisted control over their App store, the Android Market is much more open. Google does, on occasion, remove apps it deems inappropriate, such as emulators, legally-questionable music services, tethering apps and one-click root apps. But if Koushik Dutta of CyanogenMod fame has his way, these heretic apps may have a home after all. Dutta plans an 'underground' Android Market complete with an approval process to weed out malicious applications; something Google doesn't do. Ideally, this will give Android users a more trustable source from which to get applications without having to resort to dictatorial software control."
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Alternative Android Market To House Banned Apps

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  • by plover (150551) * on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:25PM (#38799327) Homepage Journal

    Cyandroid? Andia? Trandroid? TheDroidsYou'reLookingFor?

  • by Cederic (9623) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:27PM (#38799373) Journal

    I'd happily use this, maybe even pay for apps if they meet a need well enough.

    But only if I can trust it. There has to be a general belief and continued lack of proof to the contrary that the apps can be trusted.

    The Google controlled Market ironically lacks this element of trust - but Google have the track record of resolving any issues as soon as they spot them. So on balance, you tend to have a reasonable level of comfort, particularly if an app's been downloaded 5 million times.

    However, I'm all for it. Lets get it up and running - after all, this is the very openness that drew me to Android ahead of its rivals.

    • by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:45PM (#38799567)

      particularly if an app's been downloaded 5 million times.

      Really.. that is not a good judgement. What if the app is a popular one, you decide to trust it, use it for 6 months, then get alerted to an update. You download the update, through the market, only to realize that your precious mission critical (to you) app, no is either ham-strung or personal info reporting malware. Basing an apps security off of it's popularity is not wise my friend. Hell, Melissa and ILOVEYOU got downloaded millions of times!

      • by errandum (2014454)

        Well, it might be possible, but I don't think it'd be easy to hide a 5M downloads app with malware in it. The only real risk I see in all this is a compromised developer computer and passwords (for those than don't know, all apps need to be signed by yourself - that's not easy to achieve if you're not the person).

        Either way, highly unlikely.

        • by plover (150551) *

          Either way, highly unlikely.

          No. Either way, proven continually in the Chinese Android app marketplace. People are continually getting ripped off by apps that are stealing passwords, credit card data and other info. Apparently a high percentage of the "cracked" apps (those with copy protections or DRM restrictions removed) include an unhappy ending for the downloader. They may not get 5 million downloads, but I've read of Trojan horses with hundreds of thousands of victims. The stories have even been posted here on /.

          • by errandum (2014454)

            You are talking about unofficial chinese app stores? Is that your point of comparison?

            How many trojans ever got anywhere that far in the official market?

            • by macs4all (973270)

              You are talking about unofficial chinese app stores? Is that your point of comparison?

              How many trojans ever got anywhere that far in the official market?

              Not sure; but it's thousands of percent more than the ones that got anywhere in the Apple App Store.

            • by tlhIngan (30335)

              You are talking about unofficial chinese app stores? Is that your point of comparison?

              In China, AOSP based Androids outnumber official Androids. There are few ways for AOSP Androids to get apps (SlideME, GetJar, AppsLib) and they have few apps compared to Google Market (which they can't get).

              So instead, these people set up unofficial Chinese marketplaces because they aren't well served (can't get Market apps, other app stores are pretty useless to them) and they serve up all sorts of apps, including pirated

              • by toriver (11308)

                I thought MarketEnabler opened up the Android Market to all devices? Have they plugged that hole?

            • by plover (150551) *

              Sorry, I confused "alternative market for banned apps" with "unofficial chinese app stores".

              The two are so obviously completely different in so many ways ... like ... being that one of them is ... umm ... well, one is in Chinese.

              So let me turn that around on you: what have you seen about this "alternative market" that you think makes it any more or less safe? What assurance will users have that these apps aren't malware? Is the alternative market going to digitally sign them? Is there a contract? Can I

        • But very easy to do if you are the person.

          • by errandum (2014454)

            Well, if you own an application that is that popular you'd be screwing yourself over if you ever did that.

            But betrayal by a trusted source is actually the worse kind of attack, since you never see it coming. I don't even know if Apple's app store would be able to help you there... Do they review every patch you make to the application or just the first submission?

            • Well, if you own an application that is that popular you'd be screwing yourself over if you ever did that.

              But betrayal by a trusted source is actually the worse kind of attack, since you never see it coming. I don't even know if Apple's app store would be able to help you there... Do they review every patch you make to the application or just the first submission?

              Each patch. Though my experience is that the first submission takes a lot longer than updates.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        That's technically true, but there's a certain comfort level of being in a huge "pack" of users.

        Also, cyanogenmod lets me revoke suspicious permissions (which I always do). It's actually kind of amazing how many unnecessary permissions there are in some of the most popular apps that, when revoked, don't effect the functionality at all.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        One of the things I like about the Fdroid market (in addition to housing only free software that I can get source code for), is that it houses multiple versions of software. This is important for the reason you suggest. If the thing suddenly goes crazy, I can downgrade.

      • by thegarbz (1787294) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @05:26AM (#38802661)

        It pays to check the permissions of an app prior to download the first time, regardless of how many people use it.

        Android will not auto-update an app or allow you to select the "update-all" option in the Market on an app where the permissions have changed. This has seen many apps instantly weed out the old bait and switch scam. Even if it's done by accident, one popular app from an Australian supermarket had an update and suddenly requested permission to the address book, contacts, make phone calls, etc. The app suddenly had 100 new 1 star reviews along the lines of "wtf permissions?"

        Mind you this does not protect against against bullshit apps like Where's My Water? from Disney [android.com]. Now here's an incredibly popular game that for some reason requires permissions to intercept outgoing calls, WAP messages, and read my contact data, modify global system settings, and change my contact sync settings.

        Ummm NO! I don't care how popular your game is. I don't care if this is accidental. This kind of bullshit should not be installed on a phone, and an app with these permissions when not needed should no get even remotely near a 4.5 star rating.

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Monday January 23, 2012 @09:06PM (#38799743)

      I'd happily use this, maybe even pay for apps if they meet a need well enough.

      Steady now. Don't be rash. 99c is a lot of money to an Android user.

    • I trusted Samsung and all I got was a locked bootloader :/

      I look forward to alternatives.

      • by Cederic (9623)

        Hmm. Posting from my Samsung phone with an jnlocked bootloader..

        • They were selling unlocked galaxy 10.1's, I bought one after opening it in the store and verifying the rumor...I enabled updates to get the new UI, not knowing that it had an extra step "...encrypting bootloader." Now it just sits on a shelf next to my Joe Samsung voodoo doll.

          • by Cederic (9623)

            Ouch, that is nasty. I installed generic ICS after unlocking so I'm out of the Samsung eco system now.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:34PM (#38799451)
    and if the reason is copyright infringement, then they'll lose their safe harbor protection by approving the apps :(. In light of the last few days of takedowns + jailtime, Brave, but foolish...
    • by cynyr (703126)

      Koush had his tether app taken down down by a few carriers. Despite that those users may have been paying for a tethering plan, and the app wasn't violating the market/developer terms. Anyways, I assume that this will be mostly rooting apps, and tether apps, and the like.

      See https://plus.google.com/u/0/103583939320326217147/posts/Kd39ccKPL68 [google.com] for the motivation.

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:40PM (#38799529)
    I don't know if they continue to host 'banned apps', but slideme.org [slideme.org] is an alternative marketplace that seems to have a lot of stuff. It is ostensibly for those in countries who are banned from the market or those who don't like the Google TOS.
    I used it briefly as I could not get the market running on my new phone at first. It would not associate with my Google account on WiFi or data using any of the ordinary means. It was not until I logged into YouTube that I got the association working. Even the gMail app would not log in until then. Isn't that strange. You would think Google would have their shit together better than that, but I digress.
    My brief experience with slideme.org lead me to think that many of the apps are older, or cracked and possibly mal-ware, security problem laden versions, but I don't have enough experience to qualify that judgement well.
    • by brentrad (1013501)
      I second SlideME, it's a great place to get apps that Google kicked off their Market for one reason or another. All the console emulators are available there.

      IMO you can fill all your (legitimate) Android app needs by having the following three app markets:
      1) Google Market
      2) Amazon App Store
      3) SlideME marketplace
      • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 23, 2012 @10:44PM (#38800441) Homepage Journal

        1) Google Market

        How long until Google cease-and-desists the developer of ArcTools, the tool to "pirate" Android Market on Archos devices? And how long until Google cease-and-desists the provider of the Gapps package for CyanogenMod, just as Google cease-and-desisted Cyanogen himself [slashdot.org] when he used to provide it?

        2) Amazon App Store 3) SlideME marketplace

        Are AppsLib and Soc.io Mall any good?

        • by brentrad (1013501)

          1) Google Market

          How long until Google cease-and-desists the developer of ArcTools, the tool to "pirate" Android Market on Archos devices? And how long until Google cease-and-desists the provider of the Gapps package for CyanogenMod, just as Google cease-and-desisted Cyanogen himself [slashdot.org] when he used to provide it?

          I have no idea, but frankly I don't blame Google for protecting access to its Google Market and Google stock apps. If Android tablets and smartphones don't meet certain fairly basic criteria, they don't get to use the Google Market and standard apps. In that case, they're free to use some alternate market, and there are plenty of them. Google has no obligation to support non-standard Android builds with the official Market app and official apps. It's not like it's very hard to use a different app market

          • If Android tablets and smartphones don't meet certain fairly basic criteria, they don't get to use the Google Market and standard apps.

            The problem is that these criteria once included [dailywireless.org] having a GPS receiver and a cellular radio. Apple doesn't include these in the iPod touch, its 3.5" Wi-Fi tablet, yet it still allows the device to access the same App Store as the iPhone. There wasn't an Android-powered close substitute for the iPod touch to until the fourth quarter of 2011 when the Samsung Galaxy Player came out.

            • by toriver (11308)

              The difference might be that Android started life as a phone OS while iOS started life as a tablet OS. The phone functionality of iOS, apart from the hardware, are extensions on top of the core functionality, which seems to be "responsive UI at all costs".

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            I have no idea, but frankly I don't blame Google for protecting access to its Google Market and Google stock apps. If Android tablets and smartphones don't meet certain fairly basic criteria, they don't get to use the Google Market and standard apps. In that case, they're free to use some alternate market, and there are plenty of them. Google has no obligation to support non-standard Android builds with the official Market app and official apps. It's not like it's very hard to use a different app market on

            • by brentrad (1013501)
              So whose fault is that?

              Google, who provide an open source OS that anyone is free to use as the hardware manufacturers see fit, modify as they wish, but they can't use the official Google apps and Android branding unless they conform to certain basic requirements. (In other words, an awful lot like Linux works)

              Or

              The hardware manufacturers who come up with a non-standard implementation of Android, don't meet the basic Android specs, so therefore don't get access to the basic Google apps and the Andr
              • So whose fault is that?

                It's the fault of Chase Bank for not providing an option for customers to download its check deposit application as an APK directly from Chase's HTTPS server.

                but they can't use the official Google apps and Android branding unless they conform to certain basic requirements

                It's the fault of Google for having set the basic specs too high for years, as I mentioned above [slashdot.org].

      • 2) Amazon App Store

        Useless until I can download a free app without having to put in my credit card number.

  • Sounds similar to those projects like Al Sutton's AndAppStore (now merged with soc.io), which have been around for almost as long as Android.

    The only difference I see is the approval process, which will make it harder for Koush to explain that he wasn't aware of the nature of an app once a C&D flies in. And given that apps are typically banned because they infringe copyrights or other monetary interests of big corporations, I'd say that C&Ds are inevitable.

    • And given that apps are typically banned because they infringe copyrights or other monetary interests of big corporations, I'd say that C&Ds are inevitable.

      For example, these cease-and-desists may take the form of notifications of claimed infringement under OCILLA, commonly called "DMCA takedown notices". But if each developer includes a use rationale explaining how the facts and/or law disagree with any past claims of infringement, wouldn't it be that much easier for an alternative market to help the developer draft an automatic counter-notification?

  • by bobbutts (927504)
    When the android market started banning apps based on carrier request it only increased demand for such a market. As the number of people using modified phones increases, the incentive to make something better than the shady file locker/forum distribution method will only increase. Megaupload and similar sites falling apart may help the momentum even more. Cyanogen/Koush are in the best position to launch a new product like this since they can roll out new apps cooked into the ROM and they are already th
  • by Khashishi (775369) on Monday January 23, 2012 @09:09PM (#38799769) Journal

    If it fails to gain popularity, then it might as well not exist.
    On the other hand, if it becomes popular enough to attract endorsements from famous entertainers, it'll probably get shut down by the feds and he could get arrested.

  • by JackAxe (689361) on Monday January 23, 2012 @09:31PM (#38799981)
    That were breaking the license agreement of the code they based their app on; so SNesoid and Gensoid as an example. One can still download a ton of different emulators from Google's market; some are free, some cost a tid-bit.
    • I believe that Koush started to kick the idea for this around after his Tether application was removed from the Android Market for Sprint users. It was eventually restored but he was not pleased that they were able to pressure Google into blocking it.

  • It's a store. They will make money. They will make money selling apps that people with sue over.

    Best way to get around this is to dump the money to an IP licensing company.

    Create the store software. Licence it at a rate that will consume 90% but not all of a stores profits. Possibly in the beginning charging more than 100% since it's reasonable in the beginning for a startup business to be in debt. Have the store pay the company it's IP licensing fees. Being an expense the amount paid is not taxed. In the l

  • "these heretic apps may have a home after all." Hallo ?

    http://francois.telematique.org/htm/android.htm lists some 30 alternative markets for all the countries where google doesn't work or for all the devices which have not paid for google market and hence do not carry the "market" software.

    http://f-droid.org/ is definitely my favorite.
    If it is far from the google market choice, the applications are of very good quality.

    AppOke isn't bad either, and slideme was already mentionned, to name a few.

    Special mentio

  • I know I am wildly off-topic, but why is Google banning tethering apps and why is that an issue at all? Android has the WiFi hotspot by default, which enables any WiFi device to use the mobile device's internet connection.

    Or am I missing something?

    • I know I am wildly off-topic, but why is Google banning tethering apps and why is that an issue at all? Android has the WiFi hotspot by default, which enables any WiFi device to use the mobile device's internet connection.

      Or am I missing something?

      Carriers are all to happy to remove features from the phones they sell only to sell you the features as an added option. Hence they're not happy when someone comes ang gives that feature for free.

    • by anonymov (1768712)

      Caving in to carriers, obviously. There were stories about Verizon getting in trouble with FCC over this last summer, for example.

      And that's why you don't buy devices without apps sideloading.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      There are a fair number of tethering apps in the Android Market, actually. However, carriers have an option to filter out some apps -- generally, they're the ones that the carrier charges for (like tethering). Ostensibly, the built-in feature of the system (which is much better now than it used to be) checks with the carrier to ensure that the feature is enabled on the account.

  • I use this great store that an unsolicited email told me about. It has all the pay apps for free on it and all I need to do is grant the phone root permissions! There are a few glitches with the store to sort out such as the occasional 3 hour calls made to premium lines in Burkina Faso but otherwise it's been working out great.
  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:38AM (#38805703)
    So it's like Cydia with moderators?
  • That's so 14 days ago [youtube.com]

  • To give users an alternative to Dutta's iron-fisted control of his Marketplace, someone else will develop an app store for malicious apps.

It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. - Voltaire

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