Android App Market can be like a Walmart Parking Lot

Sep 09, 2011

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I think I am a typical Android phone owner. I love free apps. I check the Google Market at least once a week for something “fresh and exciting. I will randomly browse through the apps to see what I could add to my phone. I have no idea why I need 200 apps on my phone but I keep adding more all the time.
Most of the time when I am in the Google Market, I don’t have a specific need and I am not searching for a specific application. I suppose it would be fair to call me an Android Market window shopper.
As I have randomly browsed the Google Market, I have found many applications that I would not want my child or teenager exposed to. Things like “super sleazy wallpapers and “hide the porn. These were real applications, not made up names.
The point I am trying to make is that the Google Market is a little bit like hanging out in the parking lot at your local Walmart. There is definitely some time wasting going on there, but most of the people that come and go in the parking lot are normal/regular people that would not make me nervous in the least bit. The majority of the people coming and going are good upstanding everyday people, but there are occasionally some really scary folks, too.
The same concept applies to the Google Market. Most of the apps found in the Google Market are random apps that most people would not find offensive even if they are time wasters, but occasionally you will run across something that will make your jaw drop.
I am not talking about spyware or malware, (see one of my older blogs for this topic). I am talking about adult or X-rated content that I would not want my child, teen (or myself for that matter) exposed to while window shopping the Google Market.
Luckily Google has been actively addressing this topic. Google has actively started a rating system for the applications that are being posted on the Market. Google currently is attempting to categorize all applications into 4 categories.
  1. Everyone
  2. Low Maturity
  3. Medium Maturity
  4. High Maturity
I won’t go into the details of what these levels mean because you can easily find that info on Google’s site. The application rating system is not perfect, but it is getting better all the time. Some great news is that you can setup your device to only show applications below a specified maturity level, and it is very easy to do.
Google calls this feature “Content Filtering which in my opinion is a misnomer, but the feature is still useful. To use this feature open the Android Market on the device you wish to manage, then use the Menu button on your device and tap on Settings. Tap on “filtering level and select the level you wish to set.
You can also lock this feature by setting a PIN. This means you could lock the features on a phone and they cannot be changed without the PIN.
This is far from a full featured parental control set, look to Net Nanny Mobile for that solution in the very near future. But until then, this is a good start on filtering out those unwanted apps.