Google Slow To Flip The Switch On Copy-Protected Apps For New Phones


Ever search the market for an app that you just know should be there, but isn’t? Do you own an HTC Desire or another fairly new phone? Then you’re in luck (while being not so lucky at the same time) because we learned today the reasoning behind the issue. Desire owners over in the UK have been dying for a response and a solution from Google and HTC as to why certain apps are blocked from their market.


HTC was quick to respond, explaining that:

The explanation we have been given is that for all new ROMS released we have to supply Google with a “fingerprint” that identifies the ROM and this needs to be updated in their database with compatibility info and such so that the correct apps can be shown. Such as the market filtering out incompatible apps. We do supply these before relaese (sic) of all our ROM’s and devices however we have no say over how long it takes for Google to update their database. Best regards, Bjorn D HTC

So this one looks to be all Google. HTC supplies the phone’s fingerprint, and Google has to approve it into their database. What’s taking so long? Surely it can’t be that difficult of a process, especially considering that not many other phones have had this issue. Google needs to take measures to ensure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen and that these copy-protected apps are available to everyone upon the phone’s releasing. Hopefully it gets resolved soon. Until then, are you one of the unfortunate users affected by this?


Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Is this a new mechanism? And what would this mean for custom ROMs or is everything basically based off the signature of the hardware?

  2. When I was posting my app (Encountr) a lot of people couldn’t find my app in the store. I couldn’t figure it out until I ran into this same issue. I un-copy-protected my app and voila! I’m lucky, I suppose that my app is free so there is no real need to keep copy-protection on it. But I’m sure it’s a pain in the ass for folks trying to sell their app.

  3. …meanwhile Android blogs are slow to respond such news :)

    It has been almost a freakin’ month since I got my HTC Desire and still no protected apps :(

    Hopefully all these reports will put some pressure on Google.

    Keep’em coming ;)

  4. Phil, those fingerprints are in build.prop file which can be easily manipulated when you have root.

    However, HTC Desire has not been rooted yet, therefore we can’t edit build.prop ourselves and get protected apps.

  5. I remember exactly the same thing happening when the Hero was released and Google employees swearing blind that not being able to see the app was nothing to do with them.

    Took about 2-3 weeks for them to finally enable things. I’d have hoped that things would have improved since last August but the fact that Google still haven’t got this properly sorted isn’t exactly confidence inspiring.

  6. This has been there since day one, if you own a T-Mobile Pulse, you won’t find any apps with encryption.

    The problem is that developers want to protect their apps, and by adding the encryption we are attempting to prevent people moving the apps to other devices.

    But by doing this developers hurt their download numbers.

    Basically it’s another thing the Android Market hasn’t quite got right.

  7. I had the same thing happening with my Moment when I switched to the 2.1 firmware which was unrealsed. A quick edit of the build.prop file allowed me access to all the protected apps I was missing.

  8. I had the same with my unlocked Milestone when I got in back in December last year.

    It’s frustrating, and can take a long time to sort out. I checked the market everyday for weeks and eventually stopped trying. It was only about a week ago (so, 4+ months later) that I noticed apps that were previously unavailable to me are now showing in the market.

  9. Happens a lot with the Samsung Galaxy, and I should imagine most other phones.

    Whenever a new firmware is released it sometimes takes a while for Google to whitelist it.

    I don’t know if Market Enabler may work?

  10. I’ve noticed when searching for apps you sometimes don’t get what you’re looking for. And sometimes when you’re looking for the “official” app you get the low budget imitation apps that are really cruddy. Just try searching for something as simple as “youtube” brings up everything but. And Google owns youtube, so if thats not easy to get a hold of then how about other name brand apps? Yeah I know, all the Google apps are pre-installed, but still a little troublesome. There should be some kind of prioritization of the apps in the market…it would help a lot when looking for something very specific in the market. C’mon Google you’re the search guys!

  11. Had the same problem since release date. One of the few apps I have bought is no longer available on my Desire (National Rail). I can still see it in the market on my HTC Magic…..Please get this sorted!

  12. This has also happened with *both* maintenance releases for the HTC Eris… the first one back in November and the second in January. Took over 2 weeks for Google to re-enable the Market for the updated firmware. Frankly, this is ridiculous — after the MR2 release I had some issues with my phone and had to factory reset it, which kept me from re-downloading apps I paid for during that 2-week period. Google needs to get on the ball, it’s all the little things like this that make me feel Android isn’t “ready” yet.

  13. I’m not going to panic just yet, but a frown is beginning to develop on my face…. and I don’t even have my 1st Android phone yet…. Google needs to resolve this ASAP along with the fragmentation of the OS. Froyo better do what it’s intended to do pretty darn well (and it better hurry up and arrive soon)

  14. Ok, I lied, I’m panicking a little bit. wtf Google; this should NOT be an issue.

  15. Same problem here. Unlocked HTC Desir. Had it for two weeks. I just want to download Google Listen. Pain that I have to check a bloody Google forum every day in a vain hope that they might actually respond.

  16. Engadget reported this in their Droid Incredible review. As a potential for the Droid Incredible, this concerns me to a high degree. Like, I may opt to purchase another device that is WAY less desirable.

  17. I would bet a good amount that Verizon is pressuring Google to make sure there isn’t any issues with its Droid releases.

  18. I have to same problem! A lot of my paid apps are missing even google earth disappeared from the market for my htc desire.

  19. This is a horrible way to attract people to a new platform.
    I’m pretty much stuck here with no response from Google on the issue, frankly you cannot even contact Google
    If only I knew this beforehand..

  20. Similar issue happens with the HTC Legend all over the world, although it’s not clear if it’s copy protected apps, it looks more to be cammera related apps.

    Anyhow, the same stupid issue that annoys users, like myself, to no end… :(

  21. Google has dropped the ball on this one. And they still haven’t picked up the ball. A poor show from what is supposed to be a technology-orientated company who can’t plonk in a bunch of numbers into a database.

  22. @Paul T, I wouldn’t worry too much about the Incredible having this issue at launch. It’d be very unusual for a device, pre-release, to have complete access as its “fingerprint” may not have even been completed by HTC at the time Engadget got their hands on it.

    On another note, this issue has been severely frustrating for me as a developer. I’ve disabled copy-protection on my apps now to make them more available, but it also opens the door for potential piracy. Personally though, I have the ideology that if people really want to pirate my stuff, let them. Therefore, this doesn’t terribly bother me.

  23. They need to remove the copy protection entirely.

    I’m a developer. The initial release of my app mistakenly had this feature turned on. The paid version was available on RapidShare in less than 24 hours.

    Any rooted phone can trivially bypass this so called “copy protection.” It’s a waste of time and resources that has no value, and should be eliminated.

  24. Google really need to get this sorted properly for all devices old and new. They also need to allow apps to be installed on onboard memory and memory cards (not just the tiny ROM) and enable voice guided navigation worldwide.

    I really want to get an Android phone, but I will not get one until these first two things are sorted out.

  25. Ugh, so that’s why some apps just don’t turn up. Forgotten which ones I tried searching for/barcode scanning now to retry when it’s fixed -_-

  26. I just got my htc desire a few days ago by post, infact about 10 days after T-Mobile started selling it in store. I just cant see the protected apps. what I don’t understand is why developers have protected free apps? can anyone think of of a reason coz I cant. none the less google must get it right with market coz there are a huge number of people with androids and having 38000 apps in market is not good if we can’t see 30000 of them coz someone at google is being a bit lazy.

  27. I had this issue on the last Orange Hero update, it took about 5 weeks for copy protected apps to show up.

    Thing I don’t get how ever is why are devs copy protecting some free apps? I though the purpose of it was to stop the copying of the actual APK file so stopping 1 person buying it, backing it up then giving it to all their friends.

  28. I haven’t been ‘effected’. I’ve been ‘affected’ though, does that count?

  29. I’ve got a HTC Desire on T-Mobile and i can’t see protected apps. It’s pretty sucky… there’s quite a few apps i’d like to download or purchase that i can’t see.

  30. Yep – me.

    I purchased a Desire on T-Mobile as an upgrade from my venerable G1. I’ve spent quite a bit of cash in the marketplace, and was looking forward to the seamless upgrade experience.

    Alas, it was not to be – and I’ve been without my copy protected apps (around a dozen of them) since. The one I miss the most? National Rail – I use it daily as a commuter.

  31. now i know why i wouldnt find quake on my desire …

  32. where i live for some reason you cant buy (or see) paid applications, google is just not interested in adding countries in their ‘can use full market’ list. it feels really stupid to block customers buying products from their market…

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