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Google Bans Tethering App From Android Market 361

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-for-you dept.
narramissic writes "Maybe Android and the Android Market aren't so open after all. A developer who contributed to the WiFi Tether for Root Users app reports that Google has banned the application from the Android Market. The developer writes in his blog that Google cited a section of the developer agreement that says that Google may remove applications if they violate the device maker's or the operator's terms of service. T-Mobile, the only operator to offer an Android phone, expressly forbids tethering phones to a computer. This incident raises some interesting questions, the developer notes in his blog. 'Does this mean that apps in the Market have to adhere to the ToS for only T-Mobile, even when other carriers sign on? Will all apps have to adhere to the ToS for every carrier that supports Android phones?'"
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Google Bans Tethering App From Android Market

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  • Real? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anthony_Cargile (1336739) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @10:38PM (#27426365) Homepage
    I assume this is real, and if so this is just one example of Google rejecting an app for their mobile platform; Apple is notorious for it. The company where I work has been waiting on an app from a prominent home theater equipment manufacturer to pass Apple inspection, but it has failed several times in the past 6 months due it's low-level hardware usage, mainly in the area of networking.

    I wouldn't normally bash Apple for their iPhone platform, but the restrictions placed on apps is just too limiting compared to Android (unless you factor jailbreaking), but it's popularity makes it a must for mobile development so you have to just accept it. That said, I thought anything could run on Android granted it compiled and you distributed it but I guess I was wrong, according to this.
    • by jmorris42 (1458) *

      > but it's popularity makes it a must for mobile development

      Custom home theater app? Are you fricking kidding me? Sounds like you do turnkey solutions. The customer isn't going to give a rats rear what the underlying hardware was when you set them up a custom solution and waiting around months for Apple's permission just means you could have been selling stuff for months had you picked a better platform to build on. Or just jailbreak the damned thing and get on with it.

      • Re:Real? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anthony_Cargile (1336739) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @10:57PM (#27426471) Homepage
        *sigh* - It's the application Crestron [crestron.com] has been promising for the past few months, even going so far as displaying it at CES 2009 even though it is still trying to pass Apple's inspection for the app store. We won several awards at CES '09, but here's the thing: we are also an Apple dealer, so we sell iPhones and this app lets us integrate what we now sell with the high-dollar Crestron home theater infrastructures we've been setting up for years.

        Again, jailbreaking is not an option, as Apple would get a tad pissed at us hacking their products, even more so since we sell them based on a huge contract we had to sign in order to do so. These solutions are anything but "turnkey", by the way, as we've done contracting work for several owners of Forbes list companies. Not to take a dig, but your sig is starting to make sense...
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jmorris42 (1458) *

          > we are also an Apple dealer

          Ok, so that would kinda preclude jailbreaking. But it is still true you (and Crestron) are leaving money on the table by being tied to Apple's whims. You can't sell a product you don't have. Unless Apple would yank your dealer agreement for daring to use other products, and if they are that anal get out NOW, ya should keep in mind that the world doesn't revolve around em and be prepared to use somebody else's hardware when they get in your way. Enough folk did that and th

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            But it is still true you (and Crestron) are leaving money on the table by being tied to Apple's whims.

            Trust me, if everybody were using Android or Windows Mobile, we would be either developing or using apps for those platforms, but the vast majority of our customers use iPhones and since we sell them we promote them to our customers so we can integrate the products we sell with our solutions and profit off of both.

            There's something in R&D I can't talk about that involves a far different and 100% cross-platform (web-based) solution that doesn't have to succumb to anybody's restrictions save for our own

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by evand (2571)
          It's not Crestron Mobile [apple.com] (iTunes Store link), is it? Because, if so, congratulations; it looks like you've passed Apple's inspection.
    • by mini me (132455)

      but it has failed several times in the past 6 months due it's low-level hardware usage, mainly in the area of networking.

      What could you possibly be doing with a simple remote control app that wouldn't pass the Apple test? (Assuming that the application was well written so that it wasn't constantly crashing, etc.) Given that it is only using the public APIs, there isn't anything particularly "low level" that you are allowed to do with the hardware.

    • Re:Real? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Asdanf (1281936) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @12:42AM (#27426969)

      I thought anything could run on Android granted it compiled and you distributed it but I guess I was wrong, according to this.

      Did you even read TFA? It said:

      G1 users can download applications directly from developers, circumventing rules that may prohibit apps from the Market.

      So yes, your original belief was correct.

    • Re:Real? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SenseiLeNoir (699164) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @05:08AM (#27427827)

      Admittedly, the android market is not the ONLY place you have to download applications. The G1 does allow installs (once you enable the option) from other sources, so its not as bad at the iPhone.

      My T-Mobile UK data plan DOES allow tethering. Its called Mobile Broadband Plus, and indeed does allow you to use a phone as a modem (and I have used it on my N95). Hmm, so does this mean I cant do tethering on my G1? Its a bit unfair I am being held to the terms of some T-Mobile contracts, especially ones not in my own country.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @10:39PM (#27426375)

    In the United States the carriers would rape your mother and charge you for it if it were legal. I can only hope that there is a special place in Hell for these scumbags, maybe somewhere near the FOX executives.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @10:41PM (#27426381)

    For a group of so-called "IT professionals", you sure don't know jack shit about technology.

    What in the world makes you think that Google can't feed different "Google Store" pages to different users based on carrier?

    • What in the world makes you think that Google can't feed different "Google Store" pages to different users based on carrier?

      Sure they could, and the half bright user who realizes this can get the software from another source and stick in on the handset. Still doesn't solve the problem.

      • doesn't solve which problem?
        you can if you wish install the app, just google won't help you break your TOS, sounds fair

  • by StrategicIrony (1183007) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @10:41PM (#27426385)

    The T-Mobile MDA and the follup, T-Mobile Wing are both based on Windows Mobile 6, which includes a tethering app as part of the operating system.

    T-Mobile always supported tethering with my old MDA (that's a rebranded HTC Hermes).

    So... is it an android rule, or does T-Mobile just not bother to stand up to Microsoft who supports it on all of their phones?

    hmmm..

    • by bahwi (43111) <incoming@josephguhl[ ]com ['in.' in gap]> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @11:03PM (#27426507) Homepage

      No, the MDA had the tethering app removed. You could download the missing .exe file off the web but it was removed from the base system. I spent many hours trying to get it working.

      Can't vouch for the wing.

      --Joseph

      • by Thalagyrt (851883)

        I tethered with the MDA all the time when I was with T-Mobile by using it as a Bluetooth modem. They never complained once.

        • by RebootKid (712142) <rebootkid@nateandamy.org> on Thursday April 02, 2009 @12:33AM (#27426933)
          I just called T-Mobile. Tethering is allowed depending on the plan you've got. If you use too much bandwidth (operator did not know what the # was, and has promised to follow back up with me) then they throttle down your bandwidth. You must have a 'smartphone plan' with unlimited everything (internet, minutes, messages) to qualify, which is a non-issue for me. The guy I spoke to was named Marish (Spelling could be off.) Additionally, I've had smart phones with them ever since I had a Treo 600. Not only did they support tethering then, they gave me a walk-through of how to configure my Treo650 as a Bluetooth modem, complete with APN info, and dialing strings. Again, I pay for the premium package, but it saves me from having to carry around an extra data card. and yes, I've got G1.
    • by DavidD_CA (750156)

      Carriers can disable WM tethering from the OS, just like they can install their own apps to replace/extend it.

    • by Macrat (638047)
      I tether via T-Mobile all the time with my Sony Ericsson P910 & P990 phones.
    • by larsoncc (461660)

      I have a TMobile Dash (HTC) and it tethers just fine, and yes, it's a built in app. Been using it this way for over a year, and it was an ADVERTISED feature of the phone when I was shopping for phones...

      Too bad it's only EDGE.

  • Duh (Score:5, Informative)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @10:42PM (#27426387)

    Google isn't going to allow apps that annoy the carriers. In that respect they will be no better than the iPhone. On the other hand they probably won't be banning apps simply because they don't fit into Google's view of what you 'should' be doing on Android so that is a step up from Steve's Iron Fist.

    Bottom line, get an unlocked develoopers handset unless you want the cell company and/or Google to tell you what you can and can't run on THEIR hardware. Because that's the bottom line, get a contract phone and it isn't yours and you shouldn't think it is.

  • Not a problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @10:44PM (#27426401)
    Fortunately, Android phones can install applications that aren't on the Android Market. You can find Tetherbot (not the application mentioned in TFA, but it has similar functionality and, wasn't available when I checked a minute ago) at http://graha.ms/androidproxy/ [graha.ms], with step by step instructions to using it at here [gridserver.com].
  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @10:51PM (#27426437)

    Unlike the iPhone, there is more than one market for the Android platform. Developers can sell their apps directly on their own websites.

    Perhaps the app will remain on the developer's site for purchase.

  • by mikesd81 (518581) <mikesd1@NOsPam.verizon.net> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @10:54PM (#27426457) Homepage

    This incident raises some interesting questions, the developer notes in his blog. 'Does this mean that apps in the Market have to adhere to the ToS for only T-Mobile, even when other carriers sign on? Will all apps have to adhere to the ToS for every carrier that supports Android phones?'"

    I would think, and it's only a guess here, that once other carriers come on board w/ the Android, they would have a notice by the app if it would violate the ToS of the carrier. I don't know how they would enforce it, though.

  • by Jamz (89107) <James@nOspaM.boman.biz> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @10:56PM (#27426463) Homepage

    This is why I use and develop for Windows Mobile.

    I can write my app, I don't have to pay anyone or tell anyone.
    My app can do whatever I want, to the limits of possibility.
    I can sell my app or give it away to enrich the platform.

    I'm not so keen on these App Store ideas - or phones that require you to upload your app to the mothership so it can be validated that it doesn't conflict with any one else's future business plans.

    Just compile, run, and distribute .... whats wrong with that?

    • by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @11:05PM (#27426529) Homepage

      You don't have to sell through the Android App Store if you don't want to. You are free to distribute your Android software however you see fit.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @11:11PM (#27426565)

      You and your user certainly couldn't be more satisfied.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yosho (135835)

      I can write my app, I don't have to pay anyone or tell anyone.

      Out of curiosity, is that actually true? Last time I checked, the only way to compile applications for the Windows Mobile platform required that you have at least the "Standard" edition of Visual Studio, which will set you back $250. The free Express version can't do it. While the Qt toolkit is free, it requires that you have Microsoft's Windows Mobile SDK installed, which requires that you have VS Standard installed, so that won't work, either.

      Is there some free development solution I don't know about?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mjwx (966435)
      Here's what people are forgetting about Android, you can install applications from any source.

      I can write my app, I don't have to pay anyone or tell anyone.
      My app can do whatever I want, to the limits of possibility.
      I can sell my app or give it away to enrich the platform.

      This describes Android to a tea. This is being driven by T-mobile and has already been undone by Google in the rest of the world (Singtel/Optus still have the app). The platform is open but the phone companies are still arseholes, that

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pilot1 (610480) *

      The Android Market is entirely optional; if you want to, you can write apps and distribute them apart from it, the same as you do with Windows Mobile.

  • forbids tethering? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by seebs (15766) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @11:03PM (#27426509) Homepage

    I asked about tethering, they sold me a phone with a data plan. It works. They told me I could use it tethered.

    WTF?

    • by DragonTHC (208439) <DragonNO@SPAMgamerslastwill.com> on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @11:13PM (#27426571) Homepage Journal

      They forbid tethering to the G1 with the $24.99 data plan.

      The only way T-Mobile was going to sell any G1 phones at all was to lower the price of their unlimited data plan from $59 a month to $24.99 for G1 users.

      They're not prepared to let you tether at that price.

      And if you were told different, the sales jerks lied and you have a lawsuit on your hands.

      • by seebs (15766)

        I got a Motorola somethingorother a year ago with $19.99/month data which is either unlimited or enough that I've never hit the limit.

      • by Macrat (638047)
        I have the T-Mobile $19.99 unlimited data plan and have been tethering for years...
      • I have the $5.99 t-zones unlimited web/email and I tether that just fine.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 02, 2009 @12:39AM (#27426957)

        This is the fundamental problem.

        US ISPs and Telcos need to stop offering "unlimited" if they don't mean it.
        If they offered tiered pricing with shaping after a set limit, then they wouldn't have these issues.

        Bandwidth isn't infinite, there's nothing wrong with paying more for using more.

  • by UnixUnix (1149659) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @11:15PM (#27426579) Homepage
    I have been using my T-Mobile BlackBerry as a tethered modem for years. Not only is it allowed, there is no extra charge for it -- tethering is included in the $20 per month I pay for regular Internet access by the device.
  • by SirJorgelOfBorgel (897488) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @11:17PM (#27426585)

    Wow, I can't see how anybody could be even remotely surprised with this.

    Android was touted as being open. But users are stuck with all kinds of limitations. This has been known since day one it was out there. Sure you can jailbreak it though, but wth. You can't even write native apps (well you technically can, but its not supported)

    Why are people surprised at this move? Sure, the G1 is on sale in many countries around the world and not just by T-Mobile USA, but Google bends to T-Mobile USA anyways.

    When you get down to it, the G1 is just a glorified Java-phone not deserving of ANY of the hype. Basically, you can compare it to an iPhone, but without the 'charm' of Apple, and it just doesn't really work half as well. And even worse than iPhone, you cant get these apps in Europe in the appstore either anymore.

    And guess what, I actually am from Europe and have a tethering-allowed data plan - from T-Mobile! Not even Apple removed the tethering stuff for their EU users....

    Google ... I've just shut off my G1 for the last time. Back to playing with WM. Hey it ain't as shiny as iPhone but at least there's none of this ridiculous crap involved.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mr2001 (90979)

      You can't even write native apps (well you technically can, but its not supported)

      You can use JNI, which is documented but not yet part of the SDK; a native SDK is in the works. There's even an official forum [google.com] for native development.

      Manpower is the limiting factor in Android's development, and if you'd like to help work on it, the code is out there and I'm sure your efforts would be welcome. Try that with iPhone or even Windows Mobile.

  • Why do carriers hate tethering so much?

    Bits are bits, whether the phone's OS uses them or a tethered laptop.

    Just set a monthly limit and be done with it. Yeah, a laptop can reach the limit sooner, but at least then everything will be on equal footing.

    What's funny is that even providers that explicitly allow tethering charge more for it even though THE TRANSFER LIMIT IS THE SAME.

    • Why do carriers hate tethering so much?

      Because the moment your phone can provide an Internet connection to your laptop is the moment the bottom falls out of pricey "business on the go" plans which include a plug-in card for your laptop.

  • Does this mean that apps in the Market have to adhere to the ToS for only T-Mobile, even when other carriers sign on? Will all apps have to adhere to the ToS for every carrier that supports Android phones?

    You're asking the wrong questions, those are not the only possible outcomes. You need to take a look at option #3: Some apps will be restricted to customers of certain carriers. So the Anroid Market will not sell a tethering app to a T-Mobile customer because T-Mobile won't allow it, but they will to custo

    • by Macrat (638047)

      So the Anroid Market will not sell a tethering app to a T-Mobile customer because T-Mobile won't allow it, but they will to customers of [insert fictional non-sucky carrier here].

      Any proof that this is because of T-Mobile?

  • by Virak (897071) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @11:27PM (#27426665) Homepage

    Quoth Ars Technica's article [arstechnica.com] on this same thing (which was updated well before Slashdot's was posted):

    A Google spokesperson tells Ars, "We inadvertently unpublished the applications for all carriers, and today we have corrected the problem so that all Android Market users outside the T-Mobile US network will now have access to the applications. We have notified the affected developers."

    And while I'm sure some people will complain about it being blocked to anyone at all, the fault here lies with T-Mobile. While it'd be nice if Google could dictate terms as it pleased to the carriers, I somehow don't think that'd go over too well. And on top of that, you don't even *need* to get software from the Android Market to install it (insert jab at iPhone here).

  • Oookay, if T-Mobile bans tethering their phones, why have they helped me and my mom seperately to configure their phones to tether over bluetooth to our laptops? Hell, I'm running Linux, that didn't even phase them, they still helped me find the command-strings I needed!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Krizdo4 (938901)

      Oookay, if T-Mobile bans tethering their phones, why have they helped me and my mom seperately to configure their phones to tether over bluetooth to our laptops? Hell, I'm running Linux, that didn't even phase them, they still helped me find the command-strings I needed!

      Tech support that helped with Linux settings? Wow, that's actually kind of cool.

  • There's an increasingly popular scam being perpitrated on consumers as more and more devices coming onto the market do not give full control of their functionality to the person who actually bought and paid for it, because the seller wants a marketing model that allows them to double-dip or extort more money for old rope.
    I now refuse to buy any product that does not give me, the owner, total control and use of it in any way I like.
    Please join me in making this your policy too.
    The only way we can end this pr

  • There are likely some people who think this is one of the thousands of joke stories that destroy the funniness of jokes by seriously over-doing it.

    But hopefully people will take it seriously that Google is not more than "just a business." It is a business that has gathered up a lot of good will which it has been steadily spending over the past few years. They are a business that exists to sell advertising. They are a marketing company. Marketing companies, in my view, are just about as annoying as any b

  • Google don't want to provide free hosting for an app that pisses off one of their partners. BFD.

    I hardly see the issue, the guys who wrote this app were surely aware that google wouldn't want to subsidise its distribution?

    There's nothing stopping them just hosting it themselves.

  • by Walker_Boh_Druid (864617) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @05:17AM (#27427847)
    Just because the project and OS are open source doesn't mean Google's Marketplace have to be. Anyone who's used the phone knows it's incredibly simple to install apps from the web without using the marketplace at all. Banning it from the marketplace isn't banning it from the phone, it's merely Google's way of saying they're not condoning this type of use. It's still possible to tether.

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