November 29, 2010 1 Comment
The Android Market Place has regional app availability which means that if you live or travel outside of North America and the EU, you don’t have access to some of the best apps like Google Voice, Google Listen, GMail App updates, Amazon Kindle App and Skype to name a few.
It turns out that the regional restriction is by carrier but Google isn’t looking at where your data is coming from. They are looking at the carrier identifier on the SIM. The restrictions aren’t technically regional, they are by carrier.
If I put my AT&T SIM in my phone in Accra, I see the USA-only apps and can download them over WiFi. Unfortunately, even once they are installed apps that I have to install using my AT&T SIM don’t seem receive updates when I am using my Zain SIM. It seems that I have to periodically switch SIMs and check for updates.
It’s possible to spoof the carrier id and fool the Android Market if you root your phone but I really don’t want to spend that kind of time and energy beating on my phone. I’d like it to just work, please.
The user experience for this is really bad. It feels like a bug with the phone because Android Market just says that the software was not found when you follow a link or QR code for a restricted app. Couldn’t it at least say something like “We’re sorry. The publisher of this software has not made it available for your carrier. Click here to request it to be made available.” This is the Amazon approach when a book is not available for Kindle. At least that is mildly cathartic that you get to complain to someone.
Is this carrier whitelisting of apps really necessary for the Android Market? Really?