For OSU, Android APK files should be available outside Google Play

It’s been a long time since anyone has posted, and a lot has happened since the end of Spring semester (i.e., NSA leaks, Snowden, etc.). However, I just had a small thing that I thought belonged here.

I have a tablet on which I am running CyanogenMod, which is the most widely-used open-source distribution of an Android-like system. On Cyanogenmod, you can install all the standard Google apps, like GMail, Google Maps, and the Play Store, but you don’t have to. One thing about the Google apps is that, for full functionality, most require that you associate your device with a Google account. I don’t really want to do that with this device. Hence, I don’t use the Play Store. Most of the apps I want are available on F-Droid anyway. For the few remaining apps I want, I have been able to download the APK files from elsewhere.

To get on the OSU Wireless Network, the recommended method is to use the OSU Wireless Setup utility. However, this is available only through the Google Play Store. (I assume that manual configuration is also possible, though I have not tried.) I think this is inappropriate. So, I just filed this complaint with the OSU IT service desk:

Dear service desk,

Please do not require the OSU community to use the Google Play Store to get the OSU Wireless Setup app for Android. You should provide users with the APK file so that, if they choose, they can download and install the app themselves without the Play Store. The Play Store should be an option, not a requirement.

As you know, the Google Play Store requires users to sign up for a Google account and register their Android devices with Google. I realize that most people do this anyway, but some of us do not want to do this. The recommended method of connecting to the OSU wireless network should not require users to have a relationship with any specific corporation.

Please make the APK file for the wireless setup utility available for all users on an OSU website.

In the mean time, could you please e-mail me the APK file for the OSU Wireless Setup utility for Android?


Note that OSU does offer Android-specific instructions for connecting to osuwireless. (In fact, it looks like the screenshots are taken from a device running CyanogenMod!) However, at the bottom of the page it says, “Important: If you were unable to connect successfully with the instructions above, please try using the wireless configuration utility for Android.”

This is part of a disturbing trend of organizations assuming reliance on Google. There are many free apps that should be available outside the Play Store, but aren’t — simply because developers assume everyone will use the Play Store. If it ever got to the point where use of University services required use of Google, that would be worrisome.

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