This is one headline Google doesn’t want to see this morning. Less than 24 hours after Apple introduced its latest and greatest creation, the iPhone 4, at its conference for Apple developers, a small, but growing group of Android developers are reporting issues with their updated applications disappearing from the Android Market.
What’s worse, the developers can’t seem to get Google’s attention, even after multiple forum postings, blog posts, tweets and an item posted to Android “bug tracker.” Google either isn’t aware of the problem, which is now several days old, or just isn’t communicating with its developer community.
Upgraded Apps Go Missing
According to the developers, the Android Market has stopped showing some applications. The apps are still visible through third-party sites like AppBrain and Cyrket, which serve as searchable repositories of current Android Market apps. However, when a user navigates to the Android Market on their mobile phone, the apps are nowhere to be found.
The issue seems to only be affecting applications that have been recently updated with bug fixes or new features. After the updated application is submitted, it disappears. Some older versions of the Android operating system can still see the apps in some cases, but the most recent versions of the OS (Android 2.0 and 2.1) cannot.
That means users with an HTC Evo, Desire, Hero, Droid, Incredible, Droid Eris or Moto Milestone are currently affected.
On the AndroidForums site, a member has started a list of known applications experiencing this bug. At the time of this writing, that list includes SlideScreen, LauncherPro, ADW.Launcher, Handcent SMS, People/Contacts widget, WatchDroid, Where, Better Contacts, WeGolf, Setting Profiles, NetSMS and Quick Settings.
Google’s Silence: Unaware or Uninvolved?
It appears that Google may simply not be aware of the problem, as the company typically addresses such issues in a more timely fashion. But in this case, the first posting was from June 3, and there has still been no response from Google.
At this time it’s unclear what’s causing the problem, but it appears that these applications require certain permissions, which is why this issue may not have affected all developers.
Even if it’s a minor issue affecting a small group, someone from Google should have spoken up before the news spread throughout developer community sites where those affected are now beginning to leave angry comments about the lack of response.
In the growing “smartphone war” between Apple and Google, it’s more important than ever that Google doesn’t drop the ball when it comes to its responsiveness with its developer community. Developers, after all, can make or break a phone. (Just ask Palm).
Android Apps Are Supposed Instantly Approved
Even Apple – whose app store is curated by editors – had to address concerns regarding delays in app approvals when CEO Steve Jobs took the stage yesterday at the company’s developer conference, WWDC. “We get about 15,000 apps submitted every week,” said Jobs. And “95% of the apps are approved within seven days,” he noted, referring to the many stories about severe, sometimes months-long delays in app approval for iPhone applications.
Google, on the other hand, doesn’t “approve” apps. In fact, that’s one of the key selling points of its Android operating system and app marketplace. You build an app, submit it and it goes live – no waiting. Given this process, delays like those now being reported are even odder.
As Google continues to either ignore (or remain blissfully unaware) of the issue, developers are getting itchy… and angry. “As far as I can tell, the Market has been broken since Friday,” writes one developer. “Google is eerily silent.”
Another is less kind, saying “this is a very serious issue and Google’s silence is unacceptable.”
We’ve contacted Google ourselves for a response and will update when and if we hear back.
Update from Google, 2:47 PM EST: They are aware of an app visibility issue with certain recent devices. They believe it to be a device configuration problem and are working on a workaround.
2nd update from Google: 3:17 PM EST: The issue has been fixed.