Google has remotely wiped two apps from Android users' phones, which is something Apple has always had the ability to do with iOS, but has so far never done.

For all the crazy stories about App Store rejections, and the well-deserved criticism Apple faces for some of them, to their credit they've never reached out and yanked an app off a users' phone. Amazon famously deleted Orwell books from Kindle libraries, and now Google has killed Android apps, and maybe one day Apple will find a reason to do likewise (malware comes to mind) but today, they're the ones who haven't.

Irony aside, Google's been very open about the reasons for going all "power word kill" on the apps:

Recently, we became aware of two free applications built by a security researcher for research purposes. These applications intentionally misrepresented their purpose in order to encourage user downloads, but they were not designed to be used maliciously, and did not have permission to access private data — or system resources beyond permission.INTERNET. As the applications were practically useless, most users uninstalled the applications shortly after downloading them.

After the researcher voluntarily removed these applications from Android Market, we decided to exercise our remote application removal feature on the remaining installed copies to complete the cleanup.

The remote application removal feature is one of many security controls Android possesses to help protect users from malicious applications. In case of an emergency, a dangerous application could be removed from active circulation in a rapid and scalable manner to prevent further exposure to users. While we hope to not have to use it, we know that we have the capability to take swift action on behalf of users’ safety when needed.

Again, Apple may decide they have to do likewise one day, so it's an important reminder to anyone with a managed app or content store -- iPhone, Android, Kindle, maybe Palm someday as well.

Does this concern you, or do you trust platform providers to only use the big red ban button when it's to protect you? Or do you think users should have the choice -- a big scary prompt button saying "malicious app detected - delete now/cancel at own risk"?

[Android Developers Blog via Android Central]