Despite the Android Market being more “open” than the iPhone App Store – there’s no approval process to get in — Google still bans Android apps on occasion, including emulators, legally-questionable music services, tethering apps and one-click root apps. Soon, these banned apps may have an app store to call their own.
Koushik Dutta, a developer of the popular CyanogenMod firmware for Android, is tossing around the idea of a black market app store — my words, not his – filled with apps that will only work on rooted Android phones.
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“We also need an app store for apps that are getting shut down for no good reason, other than carrier, or some random corporation doesn’t like it,” Dutta wrote on Google+.
A “rooted” Android phone is roughly the equivalent of a jailbroken iPhone, allowing the user to tweak the phone in ways the manufacturer doesn’t allow out of the box. (One big difference, though: Android phones can install apps from outside the Android Market without rooting, while iPhones are restricted to the App Store.) Rooted users often install CyanogenMod, a fairly clean version of Android that removes any bloatware included with the phone.
Dutta hopes a CyanogenMod app store would cater to these users while also providing some revenue, which he says would go toward hardware costs and server costs for future versions.
I like the idea of an underground Android app store, but only if it’s done right. Because illicit apps can sometimes come with malware or adware, the CyanogenMod team should implement an approval process — something that even Google doesn’t do — just to weed out harmful software. With a low volume of exclusive, useful apps that are safe to use, the CyanogenMod team could be onto something.