When KMart started advertising that the Augen GenTouch78 tablet which the store was selling for $150 would have access to the Android Market, I was skeptical. Google may not review every  app in the Android Market with as much rigor (and suspicion) as Apple does with the iTunes App Store. But to date, Google has only allowed smartphone makers to include the company’s app marketplace on their devices. Tablets need not apply.

But when I actually moseyed on down to my local KMart to pick up an Augen GenTouch78, I was surprised to discover that it really did have the Android Market installed. There’s just one catch — it doesn’t work properly. You can browse the market or search for apps. But when you actually try to download apps, nothing happens.

Augen has promised that a fix is in the works — but I wouldn’t bet on it happening anytime soon. The folks at Laptop Magazine reached out to Google and received confirmation that Augen’s use of the Android Market was unauthorized.

While Google Android is an open source operating system based on Linux code, many of the apps that run on Android are not open source. And that includes the Android Market, which Google controls. So if Google doesn’t want it to work on the GenTouch78, it probably won’t.

There have been indications that Google plans to open up the Android Market to support tablets in the future. But a few things may need to change before that happens. Google could tweak the market so that it only shows apps that are compatible with the device you’re currently using, or Google could insist that hardware makers produce tablets meeting certain specifications in order to gain Market access.

Either way, it looks like Augen may have a hard time convincing Google to enable Market access on its budget tablet. But there are other ways to install Android apps. You can download APK installer files and copy them to your tablet’s microSD card. And you can even install third party app stores such as the SlideMe Application Manager, which will make it easy to download and install some apps directly from your tablet. But I haven’t found a third party app store that comes close to the Android Market in terms of the sheer number of apps available.

Update: Augen says that future versions of this tablet won’t ship with the Android Market, Gmail, or other Google apps — although the company is in negotiations with Google to include those apps on future devices. But Augen did release a couple of software updates this week that improve the user experience by offering a third party app store and making the touchscreen display more responsive.

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8 replies on “Don’t bank on KMart’s $150 Augen tablet getting Android Market access”

  1. Apple needs to figure out what apps are STEALING personal information from iPhones. And, AT&T needs to come clean about what data they are sucking off the phones at 12:51AM each night, quietly…. Or so they THOUGHT.

  2. I’ve had my own issues with Augen support. After reading the now infamous note by whatever company officer about having a fix for the Android Market problem “in 48 hours”, I went to the support site to download the patch. Of course we all know there’s next to nothing out there and absolutely nothing for the Android Market problem. I opened a ticket with them and got the following email:
    ——————————————————————–
    Please check this Newsletter that was posted on our site: News
    GENTOUCH78 & Google Mobile Services Application Suite . Press Release
    Mark at Augen Customer Support

    Ticket Details
    ===================
    Ticket ID: 4970
    Department: Customer Support
    Priority: High
    Status: Closed
    ——————————————————————–

    Of course the link the idiot sent me was one I had already seen. And there is nothing there to help me with my original question, where do I download the Android Market fix. So, I send a follow-up to Mark asking him where the patch is and got the following:

    ——————————————————————–
    It’s because your not looking. Would you like me to spoonfeed you SIR?

    here is the link: https://augenus.com/7800atpsoftware.zip
    here is the instruction: https://augenus.com/androidcalibrationinstructions.pdf

    you’ll need it badly
    Mark at Augen Customer Support

    Ticket Details
    ===================
    Ticket ID: 4970
    Department: Customer Support
    Priority: High
    Status: Closed
    ——————————————————————–

    Insulting your customer is generally not a good idea. The best part about all this is these messages are from 8/10, and the idiot knows there is no solution to the problem but decided to basically lie to me and give me a run around instead of facing the facts. After doing some more research on this I find the patch for the problem doesn’t exist, which brings up the question what was the idiot going to “spoon feed” me?

    My theory on Augen is it’s a bunch morons who are buying cheap, cloned hardware in China and importing it (everyone remember Apex?) They have no idea of how to run a company or support a product. The support site has no structure to it, but this may be because they will have no idea of how to actually fix any of the problems until the can get a H2B visa and interpreter for a guy in China and relocate him instead of letting Mark put the thing together.

  3. “Open” is a marketing term, it has nothing to do with the functionality of actual products, except in that it’s something you say to distract from that lack of functionality.

    Only a part of Android is open, but this is true of iOS as well. Not only is the core operating system of iOS open source, but Google actually uses part of it in Android: the WebKit browser engine. Every time you call up a Web page on Android (or Chrome) you are using a part of OS X and benefitting from Apple Open Source.

    Google has been saying FlashPlayer is open. At that point, you know the term has lost all meaning. FlashPlayer is not just closed, it’s anti-open, it closes the Web, the most open platform of all.

    The answer to this is to ignore the marketing and focus on functionality.

  4. We, influential bloggers of the universe, we need to get together and make huge scandal on the web and simply demand from Google to allow Google Marketplace on all the cheap Android tablets, laptops and set-top-boxes that are coming out.

    It would be totally evil if the reason for this is that Google wants to decide which hardware is allowed to use Google Marketplace and which may not. Arguing that Google would be “guaranteeing minimum user experience” is not correct, 99% of apps in the app store works just fine on any cheap $150 Android tablet. And it is ridiculous to suggest that Google wouldn’t be able to add some filters in the Google marketplace listings to eventually filter out some apps that require features such as camera, gps, accelerometer, or other such things if the cheap Android hardware doesn’t include those.

    The fact that Google Marketplace is only allowed on devices that cost at least $500 unlocked is just completely ridiculous. The eventuality that Market for apps on a set-top-box would require a $300+ Intel Atom setup and would not be allowed on $50 ARM based hardware, or the eventuality that Google Marketplace is banned from $100 cheap Android laptops. And also the eventuality that Google enforce the same kind of bogus requirements for Chrome OS web app marketplace, that would also be totally unacceptable, let’s complain if Google doesn’t quickly improve their rules on Android.

  5. Useful info, thanks.
    So… can you download an app from Android Marketplace to an android phone and transfer it to the Augen?

    1. Yup, but it’s a little tricky. Easiest way is to use astro file managers to
      backup an apk file to your sd card then copy it to the SD card in the
      gentouch78.

      1. The tricky part is if the tablet you buy doesn’t have an “Explorer App” of some sort (like Astro that Brad mentions) but if it has that (and most now do) you can add apps really easily and find then on the web in sites that are often better organized than the App Market.

        Once you can explore your device adding apps by SDK card is a snap. So this issues is such a big deal at all really.

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