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.