Sunday, October 31, 2010

Applications for Android - Online vs Offline Installation

Here's a first hand report of everything you need to know about applications for your Android 2.1 - basically a newbies perspective!

I am going to skip a complete background of Android as it is already perfectly written over here at Wikipedia.

Applications like on any other platform can be Paid or free. But the great thing is Android has the highest paid to free ratio for any OS (mobile or PC) of 65%!!!

Ok. Whether free or paid, to get a new app on the phone, step no 1 is finding the apps.
Android Market is the official Google source with 150,000 apps and you typically find the majority listed here. Apps are also hosted on other places as listed here but I have not checked them out yet - I like to get my reviews for Android Apps from

Once you've found your App, there are 2 ways to install them on your Android phone:
1) Online, i.e., directly from your Android phone by browsing Android Market. This is the best way especially if you have a cheap/affordable GPRS/3G plan on your Android phone. You can just open the MarketPlace app, browse through or search, and select to install (if its not free, you have to purchase the app first of course). Your selected app will be downloaded and installed in 1 step! You never actually have to run an exe or script or anything else to install the app.

2) Offline: If your mobile's data plan is expensive (like mine), then the only real option is to download the apps onto your PC using your affordable net connections.
For the Android OS, installation files ends with an .apk extension. Once you've downloaded the apk file your selected app, copy the apk file to your Android Phone (via wifi/usb/memorycard). Then simply use the File Browser app (present on all Android OS by default), select the apk file you copied and open it - you would then be prompted to install. Its not that complicated right?
Unfortunately, you'll find that there are very few applications being distributed officially via apk. I don't know why - especially because its not that complicated to extract an apk once you have installed it directly from Android Market.
There are some sites where popular apks are posted but you have to be cautious as it is not official (meaning it might be a tampered app or a completely different app you find after u install it - but this hasn't happened to me yet with the 25 and counting apps I installed):

One major thorny issue I want to mention about Apps on your Android before you go downloading all those free apps. Android OS has a severe flaw that forces all apps to be installed only in the phones Memory and not in the Memory Card!!! Unbelievable but true!!!!! WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME THIS BEFORE I GOT AN ANDROID DUMB PHONE? What a major setback for a someone rooting for Android from the word go?
What this means is that although my Motorola Quench HT3 supports upto 32GB Memory card, I am stuck with installing only upto 100MB of apps supported on the Internal memory storage limit on my particular phone THANKS TO GOOGLE ##@@^%$%@@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This issue is finally being touched upon in the latest Android 2.2 where app developers can give the option to the user to choose where to install the apps. Unfortunately, the default is still the phone memory. And unless older apps are updated and reinstalled, it will continue to be in the phone memory. I guess I just have to finally accept that Google is becoming another money-hungry monopoly like Yahoo and Microsoft...
For me with my Android 2.1 Eclair, I have no choice but to limit my applications installations but I have not yet hit the limit mind you. But that's because I was being extra careful by keeping only apps that I use regularly. Currently, there are 20 apps I have installed on my Android.

For top must have apps for Android, check my other post, Favourite must-have Android Apps.


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