Maybe we overreacted when we called AT&T the most crippled Android experience. They are however treating Android different from every other United States carrier.
For their first device, the Motorola Backflip, AT&T removed Google search in favor of Yahoo and prohibited users from running non-Market Android applications. On top of this, the device also came preloaded with a bunch of crapware that the user is unable to uninstall.
When AT&T announced their second Android phone, the Dell Aero, many of us were curious if the device would get the same treatment. I had a feeling they might after Engadget got to play with the phone because the Dell rep would not let them use the device turned on.
It did not take long to get an answer as PhoneNews was able to confirm with Dell that the Aero will in fact block applications that do not come from the official Android Market.
To the average consumer, this is likely no big deal.
The hardcore Android fans will find it disappointing though. Since AT&T is blocking non-Market applications, this will prevent users from purchasing apps from alternative markets, participating in public betas, and loading homebrewed apps.
This essentially goes against the open approach of Android and is more akin to the closed App Store for AT&T’s iPhone.
If AT&T continues this strategy, who knows what else they have in store. Users who want the full Android experience should probably consider another carrier. Either that or purchase an unlocked Nexus One from Google.