ANY Android Market Paid App For Free!! A Glitch?


I was doing some routine backup and restore of my apps in between flashing my HTC Hero rom using the awesome Titanium Backup app and came to realize something substantial. If you follow my Twitter feed, you would have noticed the other night I posted that I found a way to get market apps for free. A lot of people asked me how. This is how the other night went.

I thought to myself with my overly analytic brain, that surely if I follow these steps:

  1. Buy an app from the Android Market
  2. Install it
  3. Use Titanium Backup to back it up
  4. Uninstall & Refund it through the market
  5. Restore the app with Titanium Backups restore function

I surely would have a paid app for free. ANY paid app I want. This got me thinking more and realized that it would only work if I used the restore “App Only” function and not replace the market entry.

A little further thought made me realize that this means you won’t get any of the apps updates and you can only do it once per app.

I am too afraid to try this as I don’t want to annoy Google or any developers as I firmly believe they deserve the usually small asking price for their hard work. So, I shot an email over to Joel, the Titanium Backup developer and asked him his opinion.

Here is what he said:

“while it indeed works perfectly, I do not encourage this practice – for obvious reasons. With great power comes great responsibility.”

My biggest concern here is that if you abuse this power then you are really hurting yourself long term. Developers will run and not come back. And I believe Google have the power and right to stop you buying from the market again.

Still, I think its fascinating and a serious oversight on Google’s part.

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20 thoughts on “ANY Android Market Paid App For Free!! A Glitch?

  1. I personally think if google want to make it with Android like Apple have with Iphone, they need to sort this out big time, i think the reason big games developers will not come over to this platform is for that reason, its too easy to get refunded and then restore the app. Unlike iphones you buy you keep no refund available.

    Now i like probably any other want to see android succeed as i love the platform, but i think until this is sorted developers do no want to waste there time with it.

    Sad but very true

    • itsallaboutmike

      don’t forget that google makes nothing for the apps in the store except upkeep and nothing at all for android… well except us using their search and such which has adds in it

  2. thats understandable.. especially hearing that from a developer directly..

    I do believe only bad can come of it.. I do like Googles open view and let us choose right from wrong but I don’t like it hurting the ones who make the android system worth it.. the app creators

    • itsallaboutmike

      i totally agree and figure scene i sound alot like a pirate that i should show my support for the fair use of apps and for developers. no good can come of pirating. if i still felt that was the only way to make money with my apps i would have to say i would probably move over to iphone too. so show these guys how much we love their hard work and not only pay for the app but donate to those who did it for free. actually someone should do an award for apps site where they demo the apps (free and paid) and the one that wins a catagory gets a big donation…. anyone want to help start that up?

      • itsallaboutmike

        sorry i tend to rant so i forget things… please don’t forget that if you use a rooted phone like i do to donate to the ROM as well if not more then anything else. they are the ones who really make android different then any other OS… Google included!

  3. Please take out the steps you took to do this if you really support Android and its development. No need to advertise exactly how to do this for everyone to see.

    • Why did you make the same comment twice?..

      Anyway, I do not disagree with your opinion however i spoke with a quite a few developers about it before posting it and they all agreed that it needs to be highlighted that this is a serious problem and that Google need to act. There is more than one way to a skin a cat and this is just one way. I have since found two more ways. If scum steal software my post isn’t stopping or helping them.. we’ve all heard the same argument over and over. (PirateBay, anyone?). Either way, I chose to use the opportunity to highlight something i feel needs fixing not hide and hope no else mentions it. By detailing the steps it shows how unbelievably simple it all is.

  4. You can also just download apk files through the internet (i.e. BitTorrent) and transfer those over to your SD card and allow installation of 3rd Party Apps…

    I only realized this when looking for Monopoly, wouldn’t mind purchasing it, for Android and not finding it in the Market then finding the APK and trying that and it worked flawlessly. Needless to say, it wasn’t worth it because EA totally flopped on that build. Same thing applies as well, no updates because it won’t be listed under downloads in Market.

    Note: I still purchase all my apps, developer’s deserve it.

  5. This is not due to Titanium Backup, but due to root. Please, by all means do not pirate apps. The Android ecosystem is very delicate, and giving developers the impression that piracy is rampant means that Google and phone makers will make it as hard as possible to root the phone, much less root the phone. Already, this has happened with Motorola phones where on the Cliq, Motorola patched out the root exploit (RAMDLD) in a few weeks, and if one didn’t have the right radio ROM, they would have a unusable phone until reflashed.

    Google can become very brutal in keeping people away from root. It can be easily done for phones to check if they have been rooted, and the account used to be permanently banned from the Google app store. Cellular carriers can track phones, and permanently boot rooted phones from getting onto their networks.

    So, please don’t give the impression how easy it is to pirate on Android. Android isn’t the iPhone. Piracy will make devs switch to iPhone only, or force Google to put in antipiracy measures that nobody will like.

    • Yes I know its due to root and anyone could easily create another Titanium. However, it is important that people- Devs – know this and work ways to counteract it.

      The best examples I have seen is where you must keep a licence file on the root of your SD showing you paid for it.

      I do agree with your arguments though.

    • itsallaboutmike

      it is legal to root you device and Google nor Motorola can take action against someone who has…. aka your comment is completely incorrect i may not be able to use the code that Motorola puts out for driver or blur but i can create my own that looks and feels the same with my own twist. as for the market Google doesn’t make anything off it anyway… they understand that giving something away can be more profitable then making some grandiose profit at times over inflated also. htc and others have made it clear they have no issue with people rooting their phone. as i see it the only ones who tend to care if we root a device are those who want to tap our wallet for every penny… windows, apple to start with. look at Linux it seems to be doing great and catching up in a hurry hack even android is based on it.

  6. i dont know why google didnt do what iphone did and create there own xynxing software like itunes, as that will backup all your games and apps n everything preventing piracy as its registered to your device only and if google did this they would not of had people creating there own apps with hidden agendas where you can pirate software.

    • Err… iTunes doesn’t prevent piracy (though I suppose DRM attempts to try and fails)… and purchased apps once associated with a Google account can be shared between devices (not users)…
      “Hidden agendas”?

      If what you said was accurate (registering to device only) that would “scare” me a little subscribing to such a service — what if my phone is out for repair, lost or stolen? :( I am pretty sure iTunes allows you to install to multiple devices up to a maximum… blah blah blah stop blaming the tools for the way people use them blah blah /rant.

  7. If you think that depriving developers from the fruit of their work, you should not publish articles about it an remove this post.

    Developers are now heading towards App store and Windows mobile. Less open but at least you are rewarded.

    You harm Android development future.

    • itsallaboutmike

      he put this here to remind us all of a problem and i think the better way to state it is remember they work hard just as i do on those apps and that piracy keeps them from wanting to make more… that said don’t fault google they did all this for free using adds to get the money to keep it up and profit.

  8. Well you have to be rooted to do this, and if you’re rooted you can use Root Explorer. Simply buy the app, open root explorer go to data>app and find the app you just bought. Copy the app and paste it to your sd card. Then refund the app. Go back to root explorer and install the app. Way easier in my opinion

  9. itsallaboutmike

    i seem to feel quite the opposite of most of you i don’t see the issue for those few who pirate they will find a way just like they do with the iphone… all phones can be rooted and its legal to do so so to say you have a secure platform is a farce. with that said i agree that the developer should get their money but i have a good bet that alot of people like me would DONATE faster then be forced to pay. you shoot yourself in the foot trying to keep your app out of the hands of someone who pirated it by hurting those who would gladly pay for it

    • itsallaboutmike

      btw to those that ask for money go ahead and ask for it because i will take you idea and make it better then market it for free with an plee for donation if they want to see me make it better. its an honest but good way to keep things competitive. GOOOOOO GOOGLE

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