Missing apps on Android Market annoy developers

Applications disappeared from the Android Market when developers posted an updated version

Google has fixed a problem that caused some mobile phone applications to disappear from the Android Market, the company said Tuesday. However, not everyone is convinced that Google's action will put an end to what Android developer Konrad Hübner called the "most annoying and ongoing issue we have seen on Android Market."

"This is something we as developers should never be forced to deal with, but as users asked us why the application is not in the market, we had to," said Hübner, founder of SkyCoders, whose Cab4me application reached the top 10 in the first Android Developer Challenge competition.

On June 3, Android developer Alex Sagrebin posted comments on the Android Market Help Forum, saying that after he updated the code of his People/Contacts widget, it was not visible on Market from smartphones like the Motorola Milestone and HTC Legend. Other developers quickly joined in, and complained that other applications had gone missing on smartphones based on version 2.0 and 2.1 of Android, including social-networking check-in application Foursquare and about 10 others.

On Tuesday, Google finally said that it was working on the issue and later said in a blog post that the problem looks to have been solved with a patch, without detailing what had caused the applications to disappear.

Google acknowledged in the post that it should have been more vocal in addressing the concerns of developers and apologized for any inconvenience.

Google's slowness to respond was met in the intervening days with scorn from developers.

"I am sure they are not going to pay me for lost revenue," a developer going by the name scott.stephen.74 wrote in the support forum on Tuesday.

The issue with applications going missing isn't a new problem. In June last year, developer Big in Japan complained that its ShopSavvy price comparison application was missing from Android Market for some users. Google told the company that the issue would be fixed when version 2.1 was released, but that never happened, according to a blog post from Big.

There are several dimensions to the issue of applications disappearing from Android Market, according to Hübner. He has seen applications go missing because of issues with the application manifesto, which presents essential information about the application to Android, and Android's copy protection feature. Applications also disappeared when Android 2.0 was released, he said.

"I wonder if Google really resolved this issue or if it is just a matter of time until this happens again," Hübner said.

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