Would sideloading Android apps help Windows Phone, or hurt it?


Boy was I in for a shock. I had no idea the backlash I would face writing an innocent editorial about some features of the soon-to-be-defunct Blackberry I would love to see on Windows Phone. It was a throw-away bullet point – the fifth and a half of five. It was based on a one-line email I got from a colleague here at Pocketnow (no names, lest they be flamed). It seemed like a decent idea, so I ran with it.

Sideloading Android apps on Windows phone would be a good idea right? Well, if the commenters here and folks on twitter are to be believed – heck no.

No Garbage Zone

No Garbage Zone

It was almost silly how vehemently people latched on to that point and denounced it. “Keep that garbage off Windows Phone,” they said. “What a terrible idea,” they said. “You should be fired,” they said. Actually, they say that after every article, so this time it probably didn’t mean anything different than usual.

But I was very surprised. I personally think it’s not such a bad idea. It would actually solve a lot of problems. So I wanted to take this opportunity to expand upon the issue and see if I can make myself less crucifiable.

More = better

First of all, more options is better than less options. After all, if you don’t want “that junk” on your phone, you wouldn’t have to put it on your phone. But having the option to sideload Android apps could hardly be a bad thing. It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it after all. And if someone has a burning desire to install Candy Crush onto their Windows Phone, who are we to argue?

I ain't coding nothing no more

I ain’t coding nothing no more

Developer Discouragement

It’s not like sideloading apps would discourage developers from entering the marketplace. Some might say “Well, if they can load Android, why would they need my Windows Phone app?” Well, that’s a good question. First of all, the process to sideload apps likely wouldn’t be as simple as searching the Marketplace. It would probably require connecting to a computer, maybe dev-unlocking their phone. It would likely be a less-than-smooth process, so it would end up more in XDA territory rather than general populace territory.

Also, it’s not like the Windows Phone Marketplace is the app wasteland it was often accused of.  With new, major apps making their way to the Marketplace regularly, sideloading apps is becoming less and less of a concern. Still, it’s not like Windows Phone has everything. Case in point, the severe lack of Google support. This would be a sure way to make sure that Google gets to dictate how their apps and services work on Windows Phone. Lots of problems solved there.

But Google isn’t the only company shunning Windows Phone like a leper colony. There are many games, utilities, and services that just don’t have great presence on Windows Phone. I don’t want to name names, but suffice it to say there are a number of them that I use on Android that aren’t available or simply don’t work very well on Windows Phone.

Move along. No bots allowed

Move along. No bots allowed

Keep it clean

Maybe one might worry about the UI. Sure the UI on the sideloaded apps wouldn’t flow like their Windows Phone counterparts, but at the end of the day, who cares? We’re talking about function over form. What’s the point of owning a Porsche if it doesn’t have an engine? I’d rather have a Pontiac that gets me to work and back. Similarly, if dealing with an ugly home button or an inconsistent back button means I can load Google Hangouts, where do I sign up?

Personally, I like the Windows Phone modern UI. Even back in my webOS days, the original version of the popular twitter app, phnx was based on what was then called the Metro UI. But, as nice as the UI is, if I can continue to use the Windows Phone platform, and get the benefits of the Android ecosystem, I’m in line right now. Take. Mah. Moneys.

this guy_tooNot your cup of tea?

This is clearly not going to be for everyone, if recent comments and tweets are any indication. But the resistance against gaining a healthy app ecosystem took me rather by surprise. I get the sense that if this were put into practice, the general public would be much more forgiving. The gain of Gmail, Hangouts, Google Maps, Google Voice alone would be worth so much. Sure, there are 3rd party apps for all of those, but they come with too much compromise for my taste.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing just fine without those various services. As a matter of fact, I can’t really pinpoint any apps that I consider “deal-breakers” when it comes to my relationship with Windows Phone versus Android. But I can easily think of several Android apps I would love to rock on the Lumia 920.

At the end of the day, options are our friends. I would welcome you to shun those who callously sideload such garbage onto Windows Phone. To each his own after all.  But I will leave you with this to ponder –

Hypothetically, if sideloading Android apps was possible, what apps would you load? Let us know in the comments. Keep in mind that “None, you moron” is an acceptable and not entirely unexpected answer.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!