Should Google remove the option to sideload Android apps: Poll results

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Should Google remove the option to sideload Android apps: Poll results
Last week we had an article that discussed whether or not Google should consider removing the option to sideload Android applications. At the end of the article, we put a poll allowing you to express your own opinion regarding the issue.

Not surprisingly, a vast majority (1146 votes) answered by saying that they would like Google to keep the option, because it kind of represents what Android is all about - freedom, choice and openness. Still there was a good number of people (494 votes) arguing that removing the option will indeed benefit the Android universe as it will help get rid of app piracy.

We understand why the community is mostly against such kind of measure against piracy. As we said, the option to sideload apps gives great freedom to Android users, allowing them to install and do whatever they want on their devices. And it's exactly this kind of openness of the system that has helped Google build the Android ecosystem as we know it today.

However, there surely are some troubling symptoms within the community. While some users seem to be firmly convinced that the option shouldn't be touched, but do recognize the fact that something has to be done in order to make pirating apps (or the installation of such) much more difficult than it is now, others simply don't seem to care about this issue at all. Many users believe that there's absolutely nothing wrong with the platform and its app ecosystem as they exist now. The way things stand currently is the following: there's a great operating system — Android — which is getting even better with every new release. It's found on lots of handsets, available at most various prices - from very cheap to ultra-expensive. There's a vast application catalog available for Android, with pirated copies of pretty much all apps being available for download on various websites. Developers who offer their applications for free don't have much problem with this, but those who are actually looking to make a living by selling their apps find it incredibly hard, because a very small part of Android users actually buys them. Most are getting the pirated copies from the web.

No developer is invulnerable to piracy, however, bigger studios are better positioned to fight it, as they have significantly more funds. Thus, they can afford taking different measures to try and limit the piracy of their apps. To a certain extent, they often succeed in this. However, small developers who are just starting cannot afford to fight piracy in any way, and so this kind of situation is most difficult/dangerous for them.

What's the trouble in all this? As we said, the fact that some users don't seem to care one bit about this is what's most troubling. Those consumers what choice, they want freedom, but somehow they do not seem to understand that everything has a price, nothing comes for free, and this includes software products. Google did well in enhancing Android. The platform is now incredibly functional and has a nice and clean UI. However, the Google Play Store continues to be full of amateurish-looking apps that are often buggy. Most apps are now visibly behind the OS itself in terms of overall quality, and this situation isn't going to change, until Google decides to make life a bit easier for developers. It's not worth investing in the production of a quality app, if no one is going to buy it. And who's going to buy it, if one can just download the apk from a random file-sharing site and install it without a problem?



2. Phullofphil

Posts: 1829; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

I think that they should keep it but I am against not paying for apps. I like using the feature for the purpose of using apps that are on the cutting edge and not ready for most users. I like experimenting but not stealing. So on that note I would hope there can be a way for both developers and users like me can both do what they enjoy and develepers get paid for thier hard work. While people that try to get paid apps the wrong way have to pay. I risk getting viruses side loading and I know the risks and take precautions while paying or donating where I need to so it would suck to see that go away because of dishonest people

3. Phullofphil

Posts: 1829; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

I guess phone arena must monitor if people post first at the beginning of coment sections

4. Galen20K

Posts: 579; Member since: Dec 26, 2008

People don't have to sideload if they don't want tho, this discussion is ridiculous. If somebody installs malware on their own validity, then its their own fault.

19. remtothemax

Posts: 260; Member since: May 02, 2012

this isn't about malware it's about app piracy its not to protect the user, its to protect the developers read the articles

5. loken

Posts: 462; Member since: May 09, 2012

People without wifi / data plan would want to side load and from default android allows side loading and the devs took the risks .... dont fix wats not broke

6. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

I wonder if pa did a poll on "have you jailbreaked your iphone" what would the results be?!

14. Muhannad

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 20, 2011

Lol I'm pretty sure there would be a "I don't have an iPhone" option.

7. vladd100

Posts: 56; Member since: Jul 12, 2012

In your dreams!!!

8. McLaren unregistered

Google not to be blamed for piracy.It's the users who are,iphonearena. Consider that many teens use Android and do not have a payment facility to buy apps.

9. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

They have to keep side loading apps anyways.. why? amazon app store.. and others for instance.

15. kunyuk

Posts: 56; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

And Samsung apps store. I get modern combat 2 & 3 and asphalt 6 from Samsung apps free promotion for sgs2.

10. maryaaadil

Posts: 146; Member since: Apr 07, 2012

I voted against the removal of d feature, But if we compare apps in ios and android we get the difference. There are many apps(non google) whose ios counterpart is better than d android version. And maybe this is the reason why Apple has more loyal developers. But this is what Android is all about..............

11. whysoserious

Posts: 318; Member since: Jul 20, 2012

This calls for a job for SOPA.

12. d1sc_svt

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 03, 2012

I am generally against pirating an app. After about 30 bucks worth of games having the "this app not compatible" message for ones you know to still work just fine (by trying the pirated copies) I am now far less against it. If the devs are too cheap / lazy to keep games working for devices then people will be too cheap and lazy to pay for them.

13. SleepingOz unregistered

"As we said, the option to sideload apps gives great freedom to Android users, allowing them to install and DO WHATEVER THEY WANT on their devices." KEEP IT THAT WAY!

16. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

The choice is simple. Just as one can package a program in Windows many different ways for download, so should the smart computers we are carrying around in our pockets. It is actually a foreign concept to prevent sideloading as it goes against what people have been able to do on computers for many years. When piracy is spoken about like an afterthought it comes down to much more than sideloading an app. The conversation should revolve around the entire stream from publisher to receiver on how to prevent piracy. Choice is at the heart of human nature and the moment companies of any type or function begin to limit our choices hinders our ability to do more with what we have (im looking at those locked bootloaders) and choose to engage to alternative means to accomplish our goals. Granted there are many arguments for closed systems (apple) for people who do not want to make those decisions but that is no cause to limit the choice for everyone else.

17. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

Very well stated. Ray S., read this and learn.

18. gwuhua1984

Posts: 1237; Member since: Mar 06, 2012

Huh? They what choice... They what choice? Did someone forget to spellcheck? I've downloaded pirated apps before, it's definitely no where near the ones you get legitimately. The app isn't recognized by the market at most times, so it doesn't update automatically. It's just not worth the trouble to go search for the next version everytime there's an update available. However, it is rather useful to be able to try out what the full version app will feel/be like. Afterall, there are some apps that the demo/free version apps works better than the paid/full version apps. Not to mention that some of the best apps like TubeMate for example, can't be found on the market and has to be sideloaded.

20. alannyny

Posts: 30; Member since: Jun 27, 2012

I'm not arguing with the statistics, but considering how cheap almost all paid apps are, I find it hard to believe very many people would go through the extra steps to sideload rather than a couple of clicks on Google Play. Is there an issue with the payment system that makes it difficult for some people?

21. aoikemono27

Posts: 177; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

Maybe disabling it will give developers the impetus to actually make decent apps for Android, because 99% of the stuff out there feels like crap still. Been using Android phones since the original Galaxy S. Two years have gone by.. There's a fancy new galaxy S III out. The market (cough play store) hasn't evolved at all. The same crappy apps pop up at the top of my search results, almost unchanged. Most are still buggy or half broken and slow. Those that do work still feel liked unpolished nerd-centric messes. Google is suppose to be the king of search, but they can't even be bothered to add some filters in their crummy store. Samsung has yet to grow up and evolve from their cheap feeling toy phone builds. I like their screens and cameras, but really, take a cue from HTC and Sony. I've been with Android for so long now, but am very tempted to switch to the new iPhone coming out soon. My OG iPad and now iPad2 run circles around every Android device I've ever used. There's so many things wrong with Android phones both hardware and software. I feel I have the right to complain since I've blown SO MUCH money on these pieces of plastic already over the years. I still love my Samsung G600 slider phone. I have yet to find an Android phone I feel the same way about.

22. lyndon420

Posts: 6867; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

It should be left alone because of the open concept. When I save my apps as back-ups using 'File Expert' (for example) it saves them as an apk file that I can sideload later. Many Android users are Canadian and currently the only way to pay for our apps is with a credit card. Introduce other methods of payment like carrier billing, PayPal, or PlayStore gift cards and I'm sure you'll see a bigger ratio of paid customers.

23. DANOinSD

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

Android developers have already started implementing controls to prevent paid apps from being sideloaded. I have bought numerous apps, and then sideloaded them onto another device I own, and they fail to load due to licensing issues (widget locker for example), which can be resolved if you login to PLAY, but some of us try to avoid the all seeing eye of Giggles McTroll. Sideloading makes it quick and easy to load all your backed up apps. Agree pirating is BS (to an extent), but let's not cut off our noses, because of a few cheapskates.

24. supernat

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 16, 2012

As a developer, I find that often times users of apps have no clue what it takes to make one. There are over 600 variations of devices (phones and tablets alone) that can run an app. d1sc_svt above suggests that a developer who sells an app for on average a dollar to begin with should spend their entire day/night/weekend for years on end supporting devices that sometimes go down to less than 1% of the marketplace. As a developer, I can tell you that is absurd, and you wouldn't understand until you realized that even a simple app takes a lot of time to make, and most Android developers don't make enough to sustain a living as it is. Secondly, piracy on Android is around 80%! I sold around 3500 units for my 1st app. I should have made 17500 sales. I saw my game posted in China not a week after. I would have definitely added some new features, supported new/old devices at 17500 sales. As this article points out, there's always a price for freedom. Look up Zombies Vs. Knights on It's so bad, one person actually had the nerve to downrate my app and post a comment on my app at the market saying it doesn't work on a tablet, and that they purchased the app on their phone (where it works fine), clear and obvious piracy and throw it a downrating to top it off! I didn't sell my app for tablet because it is 3D and requires too much processor usage on the tablets I tested on, but they would know that if they bought it instead of stealing it. 80% of people have an entitled mentality (ask me what's wrong with America) that they should either get it free or say "Not worth a dollar" or "The free version shouldn't have ads! 1 star!". One guy above is seriously complaining about $30.00 on multiple games but probably have no problem paying $50.00 for a console game that's made for one device and will never be updated. Let me just point out that I'm neither lazy nor cheap, also for d1sc_svt's comment above. I spend 80 hour weeks making my apps and have invested close to 40K dollars in the software/hardware for it, but it's just not feasible to continue updating games that make me $2K a year (would be 5X more if not pirated, then maybe I would update it). If Android wants a free/open source structure, I think in the end they'll end up with it, including free/open source bug ridden games from developers that are just having fun or doing it for a hobby, unfinished/unpolished games. That may explain some of the other comments here about the current games quality. I gave Android a chance, made a highly rated (4.4) game that would be higher if it was more piratable apparently, but it just wasn't worth it in the end. I moved to iPhone simply because it is a huge waste of time if you make a great game on Android, because it will just be stolen, and if you make it free with ads, you'll just get downrated by a bunch of idiots for having ads in a free game. At least I know with iPhone users, a great game will make great money.

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