You know how we were just talking about that $150 KMart tablet and how it was unlikely that it would ever have full access to the Android Market? Yeah, it looks like that was just the tip of the iceberg. The company issued a statement today explaining that future shipments wouldn’t have the Android Market or any Google apps, although the company is in talks with Google about including those apps with future products.
That means it will ship without Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, and other apps. Some Google applications, such as Google Maps may still be available as these are typically available for download on most Android devices.
In a nutshell, while the Google Android operating system is open source, the Google suite of apps which includes Gmail and the Android Market are not. Companies need to form an agreement with Google to install these — which is something Augen did not do. The company claims that it had builds of this software on early GenTouch78 tablet units for testing purposes, and accidentally shipped the devices without removing the apps — but that seems a bit odd since KMart and Augen initially advertised the tablet as having access to the Market and thousands of third party apps.
It looks like if you already picked up an Augen tablet, you may be able to keep the apps installed, since the company doesn’t seem ready to remove them from existing units. But to be honest, the current software is somewhat buggy and you might be better off if Augen does offer a software update in the future. After all, while the current software lets you search the Android Market, there’s no way to actually download apps from it.
In the meantime, Augen has released a couple of software updates that make the user experience on the GenTouch78 much better. This includes a screen calibration utility which helps make the screen more responsive and a new third party app store with a few hundred downloadable applications. Best of all, the firmware update makes the recovery screen easier to navigate — which could make it far easier for hackers to develop custom ROMS for the Augen GenTouch78.