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Why doesn't the Android Market keep us up to date?

The Android platform comes with a great market available for browsing and downloading applications. Comments are easy to read, the permissions the application is requesting are clearly explained, and installing is a snap and happens in the background. Overall it’s a breeze to use. However, it’s got a large gap in it’s model that I haven’t seen addressed anywhere - there are no automatic updates for the applications.

When I install an application I’m stuck with the version I get unless I happen to check the Android market, go find the application again, and attempt to reinstall it. There is no indication that an update is available until after I’ve clicked the “Install” button again at which point it explains it will replace the existing installation.

In this first wave of applications for the G1 a lot of developers either skipped some features or avoided adding some final polish in their rush to be first in the store. Now their application is available to everyone and they have no (built-in) way of keeping people up to date.

When I see interesting applications with some complaints in the comments I’m tempted to hold off installing them because there might be updates in a few days and I’d rather have the new versions (there’s no way I’m going to be reviewing all my apps and checking for new versions). That’s ridiculous!

In an attempt to fix this oversight several applications have added code that does its own checks for updates. If this is the route developers are forced to take we’re looking at bigger downloads taking up more space on our devices, additional bugs since everyone has to write the script themselves, slower devices with less usable RAM, and additional security bypasses (the applications with update scripts in them require permission to access the internet and start when the device starts).

Automatic updates should have launched with the market to save developers’ time and keep people up to date. As it stands now, I guess I’ll add it to my Christmas list for Santa Google.

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