Google blocks paid apps for unlocked G1 users

Google has cut off users of its Developer phone from displaying or downloading paid applications.

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.

The Developer version of the G1 comes unlocked to any particular mobile operator and is priced at US$400. Anyone who joins the Android developer program for $25 can buy the phone.

Last week, Google employees began replying to questions people posted on the Android Market Help Web site about being unable to see copy protected applications in the store. "If you're using an unlocked, developer phone, you'll be unable to view any copy-protected application," wrote Google employee Ash on the help site in reply to a user's question on Friday. "This is a change that was made recently."

While Google offered only slim details about why it made the change, it could be an attempt to close a loophole that reportedly allows users of the unlocked phone to download paid applications for free. "The Developer version of the G1 is designed to give developers complete flexibility," Google said in a statement. "These phones give developers of handset software full permissions to all aspects of the device... We aren't distributing copy protected applications to these phones in order to minimize unauthorized copy of the applications."

A couple of developers have theories about the issue behind the move. Tim at the Strazzere.com blog discovered that protected applications are automatically downloaded into a private folder on Android phones. Most phone users can't access that file but users of the Developer phone can.

That means a Developer phone user could buy an application, copy it from the private folder, return the application for a refund and then re-download the application to the phone, the developers say. The Android Market allows anyone to return an application within 24 hours.

The Phandroid blog and a few developers commenting on the blog said they were able to download and copy-protected applications. Some developers are surprised that assigning the application to a specific folder is the only copy protection given to applications.

It's unclear how many people have the unlocked version of the phone. But some vocal developers are very annoyed that they paid $400 for the phone and aren't allowed to access all of the apps in the store.

One, who goes by the name bakgwailo, is proposing a "developer revolt," where all developers pull their applications from the store. "It would be the only way to show Google that this is NOT acceptable, and that devs are not second (third?) class citizens on the Market," he wrote. "I do not know about you, but I am beyond angry that I can not even see my own paid app on the Market with my 400 dollar dev phone!"

"This is a big problem for everyone who has a Dev phone," one developer using the name oscillik wrote. "Assuming that we're pirates is very offensive."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Google Androidandroid market

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?