While the Android platform tries to be the best OS in the game, there are minor problems that plague it such as rampant piracy issues—- specifically with developers of various apps in the Play Store. While Google has addressed piracy issues with each new OS release such as with Jelly Bean’s App Encryption, its solution has ended up being worse for developers. Apparently developers are claiming encryption (the location of installed and encrypted apps from the Play Store) makes their apps completely unusable because account information is removed after a device reboot. Because of this— Google has disabled the security feature for the Play Store on Jelly Bean smartphones and tablets.
Last week we mentioned that Madfinger, developer of zombie shooter Dead Trigger, had decided to make the game free due to the piracy rate for Android apps being “unbelievably high“. This statement, of course, has caused a lot of debate over whether Android apps are easier to pirate than iOS apps, and how big a problem piracy really is for Android.
The latest developer to speak out about piracy is Chris Pruett, the developer of the very popular Wind-up Knight game. His point of view, however, is a little different than Madfinger’s. He took to Twitter to post a series of 10 tweets explaining his thoughts. It started with this:
“Lotta press about Android piracy lately. For the record, our piracy rate is about 12% on Android and about 15% on iOS.“
So first of all, he is stating that piracy is happening, but also states that it’s not an Android only problem, with the iOS piracy rate slightly higher than Android. But he goes on to say more on Google+, basically compiling all his tweets into one cohesive statement. Read it after the break.
Reasearch In Motion has decided to drop the major bombshell and stop the ability to sideload Android apps on the Blackberry PlayBook. It’s reasoning? RIM highlights 53 percent of surveyed Android developers believe app piracy is either somewhat of a problem or a huge problem. This seems to fall in line with recent findings showing apps being published without (Android) developer consent. Here’s Alec Saunders, VP of Developer Relations summing it up best:
“[P]iracy is a huge problem for Android devs, and we don’t want to duplicate the chaotic cesspool of Android market.”
While it seems like it’s a direct attack on the Android platform, there’s actually some reasoning to his statement. The
Android Market Play Store has a number of quality apps available, but every now and then users will have to search through a multitude of poorly developed apps in order to find the real jewels. RIM wants to keep the integrity of its own app store by keeping its app ecosystem full of quality apps— even if the number is dwarfed by what is found in the Play Store. That means reducing the number of unofficially ported apps to the PlayBook in favor of a smaller number of apps that were developed, tested and certified by developers and RIM.
One of the world’s largest file-sharing sites on the internet was shut down today after its founder and several company executives were charged with violating piracy laws according to federal prosecutors. These charges accuse Megaupload.com of costing more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated films as well as other pirated content for copyright holders. This happened a day after sites and companies, like Google, Wikipedia and Craigslist shut down in protest of the SOPA and PIPA proposals sent before Congress that were intended to stop online piracy.
This is a surprising turn of events as Megaupload was unique in that it had support from celebrities, musicians and other content producing folk that are usually the ones who are victims of said copyright infringement and piracy. The company complied with DMCA takedown requests in a timely fashion was endorsed by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys and Kanye West, and the like. A lawyer for the company was quoted to say:
A while back, we brought you a story about the Android Market licensing server, and the ways in which it can help developers protect their applications from piracy. Today, we’re going to look at a key component of that licensing server, which is the License Verification Library (LVL). The LVL simplifies the process of adding licensing to your app, and helps to make it more secure from illegal piracy.
No security system is perfect, and the LVL is no exception. However, effectively utilizing this tool can make a hackers life so miserable, that they may be far less inclined to try and crack your application for illegal distribution. Here are some methods developers can use for preventing hackers from attempting to disassemble the LVL code from the application.
- You can obfuscate your application to make it difficult to reverse-engineer.
- You can modify the licensing library itself to make it difficult to apply common cracking techniques.
- You can make your application tamper-resistant.
- You can offload license validation to a trusted server.
If you are a developer and are looking for a very in-depth look at the License Verification Library and the ways in which you can implement it, hit up the source link below.
[via Android Developers]
The Android Developers blog featured a post today regarding the current state of the new Android Market licensing server, which aims to cut down on the currently high levels of app piracy. It has been reported that someone bypassed the new security, but the developers remain optimistic that the licensing server will help cut down on pirated apps. From the blog post:
- The licensing service, while very young, is a significant step forward in terms of protection over the plain copy-protection facility that used to be the norm. In the how-to-pirate piece, its author wrote: “For now, Google’s Licensing Service is still, in my opinion, the best option for copy protection.”
- The licensing service provides infrastructure that developers can use to write custom authentication checks for each of their applications. The first release shipped with the simplest, most transparent imaginable sample implementation, which was written to be easy to understand and modify, rather than security-focused.
- Some developers are using this sample as-is, which makes their applications easier to attack. The attacks we’ve seen so far are also all on applications that have neglected to obfuscate their code, a practice that we strongly recommend. We’ll be publishing detailed instructions for developers on how to do this.
- The number of apps that have migrated to the licensing server at this point in time is very small. It will grow, because the server is a step forward.
- 100% piracy protection is never possible in any system that runs third-party code, but the licensing server, when correctly implemented and customized for your app, is designed to dramatically increase the cost and difficulty of pirating.
- The best attack on pirates is to make their work more difficult and expensive, while simultaneously making the legal path to products straightforward, easy, and fast. Piracy is a bad business to be in when the user has a choice between easily purchasing the app and visiting an untrustworthy, black-market site.
We’re curious to hear what you have to say about app piracy, so please join the discussion by leaving your comment below.
Swedish tech blog Royal Pingdom has posted an article about piracy in the Android community that Google should take note of. In the article, they bring up the point that, while Android phones are available in approximately 46 countries, in only 13 of those countries are you able buy apps in the marketplace. This is incredibly low compared to, say, the iPhone, which has paid apps supported in 90 countries. Sweden, being one of the countries left out, has made it so that this blogger for RP has seen just how hard it is to live the straight life… and still pimp out his phone.
Think you’re pretty slick by just finding the stand-alone APK’s for apps that you should’ve paid for? Obviously the developers of those apps are sick of their hardwork being distributed for free, but Google has just implemented a service to help them out.
Android’s new licensing service allows the individual app to call Google’s server to check the app against purchase records vs the credentials of the purchase. So if the credentials don’t match, the app won’t have full (if any) functionality on your device.
This will be great for dev’s and consumers alike as long as it verifies the credentials on a per-Google account basis and not on a per-phone basis, which would make getting a new phone quite the frustrating process.
[via android dev blog]