WebOS 1.2 Has Beginnings Of App Kill Switch; World Doesn't End | webOS Nation

WebOS 1.2 Has Beginnings Of App Kill Switch; World Doesn't End

by Jason Robitaille Sun, 06 Sep 2009 12:33 pm EDT

The WebOS 1.2 leak has revealed its share of great new updates and additions, so there was bound to be at least one thing people wouldn't like. And wouldn't you know it, that thing had to be something as massive as remote application removal; an app kill switch of sorts.

PalmInfocenter was the first to report about it yesterday. Deep within the 1.2 update, inside the new file /usr/lib/luna/system/luna-systemui/app/views/apprevokedalert/apprevokedalert-scene.html is what appears to be a system popup message saying:

Palm had to delete this application from the App Catalog and your device. If you paid for this app, your money will be refunded.

The logical conclusion, is that this is what users will see when Palm decides to pull an app from the App Catalog. Shortly after PalmInfocenter's story went up, the news of an app kill switch in 1.2 spread across the blogosphere, with commenters going crazy.

One interesting point, that very few people seem to be mentioning, is that this system popup is left unused in 1.2.  At least from the WebOSDoctor 1.2 leak, the actual code that remotely removes apps doesn't seem implemented.  That's not to say it won't be added in the future; on the contrary it probably will.  It just makes sense for Palm to leave something like this for later this Fall, when the App Catalog launches fully in the US.

Palm is a relatively small company and if they want to fully open up the App Catalog for submissions, they simply wouldn't have the manpower to do deep individual submission evaluations.  This form of app revoking would be handy in the rare situations of malware getting though, or in the case of copyrighted or illegal content. The iPhone has an app kill switch and so does Android.  The average user who isn't into the homebrew scene and only uses the App Catalog just assumes the apps are safe, this adds an extra layer.  And let's be practical here, it's a pretty safe bet Palm knows the tech-oriented users will patch the WebOS to get rid of any remote app removal anyway.

Some on our forums have worried that Palm may abuse this ability to remove apps to remove apps that they or their carriers don't approve of. To those people I say "relax".  Palm has had ample time to put the slam-down of our homebrew scene, but they haven't.  In fact is seems Palm has embraced us, even contacting some of our homebrew developers, helping get their apps streamlined for the App Catalog.  It would be against Palm's own interests (let alone the PR nightmare it'd be) to kill an app that didn't absolutely need it.

So feel free to take of the tinfoil hats, the popup message we've found isn't as bad as others are saying. Instead, just relax and enjoy the great new features we should be getting in 1.2.