We've known for a while now that most mobile operating systems have some sort of kill switch so that an application can be remotely removed from devices before it causes harm to users. The kill switch is rarely used, but yesterday, Google went ahead and flipped it. Speaking on the Android Developers Blog, the company admitted to remotely deleting two "practically useless" apps that misrepresented themselves to encourage downloads. The apps were meant to collect research data and didn't harm users, but they still violated the Android Terms of Service. Since the apps were "useless," most deleted them after the initial download, and the developer actually had already removed the offending apps from the Market. Still, Google decided it was necessary to make the apps disappear completely, deleting any trace of them from devices that still had the apps. Google said that users will get a notification when an app is remotely deleted from your handset.
While this may all sound very Big Brother, 1984-ish to you, at least Google is being straight with us by giving notification of when an app is removed. As I said before, most OSes have a similar kill switch implemented for easy removal of malicious applications that may slip into a user's hands. Actual use of the switch seems to be a pretty rare occurrence, though. The last time I can remember it being used was when Amazon remotely deleted two George Orwell books from their Kindle e-readers, which actually turned out to be somewhat of a controversy. What do you think of Google flipping its app kill switch?