We knew Google had the power to remotely remove Android apps — Microsoft and Apple have backdoors into their mobile operating systems, too — but it’s always a little disconcerting to see a kill switch used. Such is the case today, as we’ve just heard Google unleashed the hounds this week, siccing bits and bytes of remote deletion power on a pair of “practically useless” but still Terms of Service-infringing apps. Curiously enough, Google admits that most who’d downloaded these programs had deleted them already, and that this “exercise” of the remote application removal feature was merely a cleanup operation. Google says users will get a notification beamed to their phone if an app is removed, however — so as Big Brother as that all sounds, at least the company’s being nice and transparent about the whole matter, eh?
Update: To be clear, the developers of the offending apps had already removed them from the Android Market, so this was technically a cleanup. The only question is why Google would go out of its way to mop up an app that absolutely no one would miss.