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Record-setting Android app downloads kick start a new year

by Kristen Nicole

It was a wonderfully happy new year’s celebration for Android, as the platform attracted millions of new device activations and app downloads over the holiday break. Flurry Analytics released another report this week outlining the mobile industry’s success between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. It showed that more than 1.2 billion apps were downloaded for iOS and Android devices. This is up 60 percent when compared to regular app activity during December. And it’s U.S. users that are the most anxious to load software onto their new Android devices, making up 42 percent of the holiday-week activity with 509 million downloads. China’s in second place with 99 million app downloads, leaving the UK in third with 81 million downloads.

Fake “official” Siri app causes marketplace stir

That’s a great way for Android to start the new year, but there’s been a few other developments in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. One of the biggest stories over the weekend was the trouble caused by a fraudulently labeled “official” Siri app for Android. App developer “Official App” took advantage of Android users’ desire for a Siri-like application launching an app called Siri for Android into the Android Market a few days ago. The app is nothing like Siri, re-routing users to Google’s own voice-activated capabilities built into Android devices, prompting Google to quickly remove the misleading app, with which it has no affiliation. In fact, Official App’s account has been completely removed, along with their other controversial apps including their unofficial Pinterest one.

Who makes Android open?

With millions of apps downloaded and a scrambled marketplace, Google certainly has its hands full maintaining the Android ecosystem. Many are wondering how truly open Android is. As the mobile OS matures, it’s a question that must be addressed at every turn. Leaving OEMs to make the final rules on Android devices’ make up, consumers are left confused and sometimes angry at the limited access to certain Android features. This is the case with certain devices that are missing access to Google’s mobile suite, which includes the Android Market, an issue raised with Amazon’s spin on the Kindle Fire.

Asus Transformer Prime buyers are also angered at the discovery that the Ice Cream Sandwich device has a bootloader that can’t be unlocked for root access. While OEMs have the right to do this, and have done so in the past (HTC suffered quite a backlash for locking down its devices), Transformer Prime users feel this information should have been disclosed before the purchase. Given Android’s open nature and its appeal to geeky users, root access is actually a selling point for many Android customers. The question of whether or not open source devices should be accessible to users as an “inalienable right” has been raised once again, putting Asus in the middle of a precedent-setting battle.