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Exclusive: Indian App Store Provides Paid Google Play Apps For Free

Eric McBride
24

 

It’s no secret that many Android developers are struggling to make substantial revenue from their apps on the Play Store, and it’s also no secret that Android apps are insanely easy to pirate. Well, I hate to say this, but stealing paid Android apps just got a hell of a lot easier, as we recently discovered an adequately designed and completely functional hacked Android platform that allows you to download thousands of (if not more) paid Android apps completely for free. 

iPhone users who have jailbroken their devices have long had access to the “jailbroken” app store, which is basically an Apple App Store that allows you to download paid IOS apps for free. While I have seen some small 3rd party Android markets attempt to do the same, this platform takes piracy to an entirely new level, and is pretty much a big smack in the face to lots of hard working app developers that are already struggling to make ends meet. The reason I refer to this app as the “jailbroken” version of Android is because the same jailbreak exploit that was used for the jailbroken Apple App store is also being used for this one.

Before I go further, I cannot stress how much AndroidPIT is against this entire scam. I debated on even writing this article to expose this app, as it could in a way promote piracy. But to ignore it and to allow thousands of developers to go out of pocket is also no solution. After testing the fake app myself by downloading a paid application that I already own (I used a separate Gmail account), I can confirm that it’s working.

Android India is a huge (and legal)  app recommendation platform that allows you to freely browse localized apps hosted on the Google Play Store. It lets users search apps by region, allowing them to download apps that could appeal to them on a geographical basis, and then redirects them to the Play Store should they decide to purchase it. The problem is that the entire Android India marketplace has not only been hacked, but that a separate marketplace that can be downloaded as an apk file has also been created, providing a database paid apps that can be downloaded at no cost. 

Once you download and install the apk, all apps (including newer paid titles) can be completely downloaded for free, and display the status “Cracked” with a smiley face next to it (or with the info on who's already cracked the app), as shown here:

To say that the maker (or makers) of this app is bold is an understatement, as you can see by the wording used to describe the hacked platform (I have removed the name of the hacked apk file from all screenshots, so please don't ask me for the apk file or for the name of it):

When I tested downloading a paid app that required additional data, the license verification check also passed, and within minutes I was using the app on my device. I also noticed that the uninstall function of the hacked platform doesn’t work, and that I still had to go into settings-applications on my phone to completely uninstall it. But even after doing that, I was able to locate the apk on my phone's memory. The app is even bold enough to display the price you would normally pay for the app if you weren't stealing it (which is really insulting for developers), as shown here:

Another discovery that I found really strange is that you have the choice to install the paid app legally or illegally, as pressing the “install” button will download and install it to your device at no cost, and pressing the “market” button (which is conviently located right next to the "install" button) will redirect you to Google Play to purchase the app. Here's a screenshot showing what I mean (again, the name of the store has been removed from the photos):

For anyone who’s too cheap to shell out 79 cents or a few bucks to support developers of great apps, you should know that if you use this marketplace, you have no idea where your data is going or if the apk is infected with trojans or malware. The only thing this platform promotes is stealing, and is just plain stupid on so many levels. While I can't provide you with an exact number of how many paid apps the platform contains, I can say that every paid app I searched for was found, and could be downloaded at no cost. 

I find it pretty lame that so many people steal Android apps, as even high quality games/apps like Nova 3 or Max Payne only cost a few bucks. The main thing that platforms like this accomplish is to create more fremium titles for Android, which is something that enough people already hate. Afterall, if developers can't generate enough revenue from sales of the apps, what other choice do they have?

We reached out to Google directly in regards to this rogue platform, and have supplied them with the apk file and all relevant data on where it was found. We are currently awaiting an official statement. 

I'm sure there might be some peoplle reading this who will manage to find the apk, download it, and steal to their hearts desire. Unfortunately, that's something we can't stop. With so many developers putting in long hours in making these apps, and with so many worried about security on their mobile device, it's pretty hard to believe that shelling out a few bucks for a game like The Dark Knight Rises (which includes a lifetime of updates), is such a hard thing for so many to do. 

So do the right thing guys. Download your apps from trusted sources, support the developers of the apps you love, and help keep those talented devs coming back to Google Play. After all, it's things like this that drive them more to IOS, and encourage them to develop even more of those pesky fremium titles. 

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Comments

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  • adeltakrony Aug 3, 2012 Link

    ok

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  • Vladimir Lavrnić Aug 3, 2012 Link

    Having alternate markets like this is ruining basic idea of mobile apps and it is their price. Although it was possible to do this before it is now too easy to pirate an app. Since having Android device two years ago I was able to find paid app for "free" but never tempted to do this. If you use something do pay this $. Developer deserves it.
    On the other hand I hope this will be additional presure on Google to fix the Play and make it available in ALL the countries. Specifically I am reffereing to Serbia here.

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  • chinu Aug 3, 2012 Link

    not worth going for this app.
    unnecessay permusions for an app.
    installs many backdoors to ur phone....
    at the end..... COMPROMISED phone..... :-(

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  • Eric McBride Aug 3, 2012 Link

    Exactly guys. Im hoping Google will take action on this as a message to developers that these type of applications wont be tolerated.

    And yeah, who knows what installing this app is doing in the background once you've installed it!

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  • chinu Aug 3, 2012 Link

    there is a famous tool name logcat which is commnly used in these app... to monitor the cell phone activity....

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  • Eric McBride Aug 3, 2012 Link

    Logcat is a great tool. I might run it on a test phone with the app running to see what it's up to.

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  • chinu Aug 3, 2012 Link

    sure eric.. u will get good results....

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  • Eric McBride Aug 3, 2012 Link

    Will do!

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  • headshrinker Aug 4, 2012 Link

    I have over 120 of paid games alone. Purchased Final Fantasy 3 the other day. Have the likes of SPB Shell 3D. The point is it feels (to me at least) rewarding to pay devs for their app. It feels good.

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    DaBartonator Aug 5, 2012 Link

    Hopefully the app has a bad virus that rele bits the person that downloaded int in the a$$ later

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  • Eric McBride Aug 6, 2012 Link

    LOL. You never know! Another reason why its not worth downloading this crap.

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  • Tucker Shaw Aug 11, 2012 Link

    Markets like this are popping up in response to the ridiculous 15 minute return policy of the Play store.

    there was nothing like this around when we had 24 hours to return a game.

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  • KID ANDROID Aug 11, 2012 Link

    I love how easy it is to tell a true Android Fan from a chump who thinks they are. These idiots who think they are so cool & think they are so smart because they know about these sites & download these stolen apps go around bragging about it coming up with bullshit excuses like I do it because I dont have a credit card to pay for them. Hello idiots are you really that stupid that you cant go to the corner store & buy a prepaid visa or mastercard & use it in the Play Store ? I dont have a credit card & I pay for every app I have & download them for the Play Store by using prepaid visa or mastercard, it works. So stop coming up with these kind if bullshit excuses to buy apps & support the great devs that make the games your playing.

    Google needs to come up with a way to tell if you've downloaded an illegal app on your device & then they issue a warning & if done again the device SELF DESTRUCTS lol.

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  • carlos javier Aug 11, 2012 Link

    non,c'est vrai. J'aimerais payer des applications mais je n'ai pas de carte de crédit. Je suis sincére,Kid Android. Je vis en France et je ne connais pas de cartes prépayées,soit disant vendus dans les épiceries avec lesquelles on peut acheter sur googlePlay,si tu peut m'en dire plus,cela m'arrangerais. Merci.

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  • David H. Sep 5, 2012 Link

    Just write an app to make a similar free source, with a self destruct button linked to the "install" button. After 3 illegal downloads, KABOOM! Or, rather, black screen of death. i don't know the language for writing these apps, but seems easy enough to pirate the pirate store and add some nastiness.

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  • Eric McBride Sep 6, 2012 Link

    @Tucker - I do agree that 24 hours is a more realistic time. That does need to definitely be addressed. That being said, making the devs pay for Google policy also isn't the right way.

    KID - Exactly what I think when it comes to credit cards. Prepaid cards are widely available. I mean sure..Paypal option would be great, but not having it is certainly not an excuse to steal.

    @Carlos - Anyway you can respond in English? My French skills are like..well..non existent :-D

    @David - LOL. Then people getting their hands blown off would sue Google and OEMs. Probably not the best solution :-D

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  • Hamedullahhabib Dec 23, 2012 Link

    please hack english to pashto dictionary for me which is now released on google play

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  • FUAHole Aug 23, 2013 Link

    Not to forget that people in semi-supported countries have to struggle with idiotic Google red tape. I've been trying to buy apps legitimately for ages now. And there's always a problem. Debit cards aren't accepted, I always get pointless errors with Credit cards and now Google wants me to send my identity sensitive data over to them via email? I bloody think not. My only option now is pirating while my superior "1st world country citizens" righteously tell me how wrong it is blah blah. What do you know about the situation anyway? Have you ever given your righteous self half a thought as to what the root of the problem is? Instead of just passing around your virtuous opinion, please note that more than half the time it's not about being able to put down .99 for an app - it's about being unable to.

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  • Odyody Wa Oct 18, 2013 Link

    IT is idea of share as no app needs money when you buy a phone and pay 200 you must also pay another 1200 to enjoy good software and support the multi millionaire companies to more and more millions by your hardly earned money , in these countries (the 3rd world) you can find that an educated person work 12 hours per day and all the money he get cam be spent in 4 or programs , actually software pricing is really unfair it should be 1\10 for third underdeveloped countries or even for free only about 5 or 10 % can pay for software otherwise there ll be without technology

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  • Kyle H 11 months ago Link

    If i like the game and its a fair price to pay, i'll most likely end up buying it. but companies like Glu, Gameloft, and Ubisoft base they're games off of in-app purchases to progress further into the story or even stand a chance multiplayer. Those companies make some of the best android games out there, are raking in loads of cash, and still charges for the game as well as the in-app purchases (they do have free games, but you still gotta make in-app purchases). You people make the devs sound like they brake their f**king backs to create these games and deserve pay on top of pay.

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  • Kyle H 11 months ago Link

    And KID, some people have KIDS they have to feed, bills they have to pay, and groceries they gotta buy so they might not always have the money to spend on these games. So next time think about something other then yourself/selves bunch of ignorant douche bags.

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  • emmanuelperez12@gmail.com 11 months ago Link

    stupid idiots why pay for something you could have for free

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  • John Doh 3 months ago Link

    You do know with a rooted android u can take away them permissions & still run the app right? Or do all of you whining just like to troll to look important?

    Apple Spies on your crap anyway, not like they can do much with the information unless your a total MORON & use it to bank online with it while using hacks.. DDdddduuuuuhhhhh!

    Think before your type some BS ppl COMMON SENSE Dictates You deserve to get identity stolen if your STUPID enough to use a hacked phone without researching the security issues. Advanced Permissions APP = FIX to security issues, unless your THAT lazy..

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