App developers fear that Android Market is pirates' charter

App developers are moaning that Google is too lax at policing the Android Market and allowing copyright infringements, as well as the risk of malware-laden apps to boot.

Apparently it is too hard to to get discovered on the Market unless you are one of Google’s own apps, or a port of an iPhone app.

The Guardian has been chatting to Android developer Kevin Baker, who said that the combination of lack of discoverability and ease of copying and republishing is turning the Market toxic.

While Apple goes to the other extreme with its pre-approval processes, the Android Market allows anyone to post apps.

Baker had one of his apps pirated and uploaded and it took Google two days to take the app down. The same pirate had done the same thing with a lot of other games and Google did not think to check.

Google claims that code signing, which identifies an app, is enforced on the Android Market and makes it harder for would-be pirates to copy and re-upload apps. It also recommends using Android tools such as Proguard, which shrinks, optimises and obfuscates the code.

The problem is that Baker used Proguard, and which didn’t stop the app from being pirated and uploaded. The Licence Checking Service works fine apparently, but that’s if the hacker hasn’t removed that bit of code – which is relatively easy to do.

Google also has a problem working out which developers are trustworthy. Baker discovered a fortnight ago that one of his apps had been suspended. He assumed it was by mistake but when he emailed the outfit it didn’t replied. Google claims that if you want to appeal its decisions you should send it an email by hitting the link in the rejection email.

However Baker and other developers say Google never replies.

Software developers who work with both Google and Apple say that if it came down to a choice, working with Android was a much better bet.  While Google is a bit like the wild west, Apple is like 1984, one told TechEye.