Maybe that’s not a fair analogy, but it is an interesting thought that Google apps would make fantastic viruses and spyware.
For one, you don’t need them to act like part of the operating system (Android) but they do anyway.
You can disable some of them though, but you do not get the option to uninstall them like regular programs. Not unless you root your phone, which voids your warranty. (Very convenient for phone manufacturers, I suppose.)
It’s interesting that Microsoft and Linux give you root privileges to your own computer. But for your ‘security,’ more likely the security of Google’s business, root privilege has to be wrestled from Android at potentially great expense. Google’s Android seems to give the user the ‘barest’ minimum of control. Like when task manager (on Windows) is disabled by a virus.
Then you notice that Google Play Services updated itself in the background without the option to give it the permission to do so. (Of course it is not the only culprit.) That’s classic virus/spyware behavior — doing interesting things under the hood.
You boot up the phone for the first time and you are asked to acknowledge (setup) the presence of Google. Then her apps encourage you to leave your door open in order to enable a better service experience for you. In real life, this is not smart.
(It’s okay that we have nothing to hide, but our private parts are still private parts. We might choose to bare almost all on the beach, but we leave the beach where it is when we leave it. It seems like several app builders just want us to live life fully as on the beach — for the convenience that that would provide them.)
Then, was there ever a sudden realisation that your phonebook was backed up to your Google profile for your convenience. That’s okay if you don’t mind. But was this feature on by default? You probably told it to. There are settings choices that the make easy to make, and may be useful. There are also menacing default settings, particularly those you cannot change (like the compulsory background updates using your data), or the option to change is blurred or discouraged (placed at the bottom of a scrollable menu, or ‘dehighlighted’).
In summary, it is possible, perhaps easy, to view Google’s Android as a hijacked opensource operating system. It’s just about their business though; nothing personal. (The article in the following link highlights the business: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/10/googles-iron-grip-on-android-controlling-open-source-by-any-means-necessary/). It doesn’t seem like things have changed.
So I’m beginning to think that it is in the interest of the public, national security, and basic human rights, that Google’s Android come with root access provided, and better, easily accessible user control of access to the private. And if Microsoft lost an antitrust case, should Google not lose one too.