AT&T non-market lockdown

I'm on the bandwagon. I'm on the boat. I'm drinking the Kool-Aid. I've gotten with the program. I've seen the light at the end of the tunnel. ('Bout time, eh?)

It's far past time for AT&T to allow non-market applications on its Android smartphones.

A little context, for those of you not on AT&T: If you go to Settings>Applications on any Android phone (save for those on AT&T), you'll see a setting for "Unknown sources" that will let "allow installation of non-Market applications." It's a safety feature, really, meaning that you can't install an app if it's not from the Android Market. And presumably, if an app is installed from the Android Market, it's warm and cuddly and safe. But we know that's not the case 100 percent of the time, and on rare occasions a "bad app" slips in. (These are, however, very rare cases given the scope of the Market.)

But then there's AT&T, which in its infinite wisdom decided that its users shouldn't be allowed to install non-market applications. This, after it took many moons to actually get an Android smartphone in the first place (and even then we got the Backflip).

It's time for AT&T to flip the switch. We're big boys and girls. We can take responsibility for our downloads.

But at this point it's bigger than that. The Amazon Appstore has quickly gained traction -- much faster than we expected, thanks to some high-profile exclusive releases and a free-app-a-day program. (And then there's that newfangled Music Cloud thingy.) But if you're using an AT&T phone that can't install non-Market apps, you're SOL.

We should mention the Sideload Wonder Machine, created by our own Jerry Hildenbrand. It lets you install non-Market apps on AT&T phones via ADB and the command line via a sexy Windows/Mac/Linux user interface. You technically can install the free apps (or at least the non-DRM apps) from the Amazon Appstore through this method (or traditional sideloading via ADB) if you pull the from the Amazon Appstore cache on your phone and ... and ... and ...

Yeah. It's ridiculous. And it's doubly ridiculous that we brought up this issue to Amazon just before the Appstore was announced, and nobody had an answer for it, and it's still an issue today, though reportedly AT&T and Amazon will figure it out.

They shouldn't have had to. AT&T overstepped, and it's time to make it right. Allow non-Market apps on your phones, AT&T. Your users will thank you for it. And we will, too.