25
Feb
2012-02-25 10h57_23

One of the biggest restrictions that we face as Android users is "device incompatibility" issues in the Market, even though the app in question may work perfectly on our device. For example, according to the Android Market, Plants Vs. Zombies is "incompatible" with my Galaxy Tab 10.1; however, when it was initially released to the Amazon Appstore (and before Popcap was bought by EA), I always played it on the Tab. Case in point: it isn't "incompatible" with the Tab 10.1, EA just chose to list it as such (no surprise there).

This type of thing happens far too often, be it due to device restrictions or regional discrepancies. Oftentimes, we try to pull the apk (of free apps) and host it for all users to try out, despite what the Market says. Now, thanks to a new Chrome extension called "APK Downloader," that process just became infinitely easier.

APK Downloader is a simple tool that allows you to pull any free apk (no pirating, folks) from the Android Web Market, even if it's listed as incompatible with your device or country. It's a bit more complicated than just installing an extension and going about your merry way, however, so make sure to read the following instructions before you install it to ensure it's something you're comfortable with trying.

This extension requires Chrome 17 or later in order to function!

Use of this extension is against the Market's ToS (thanks, Scott) - proceed at your own risk. The clause it violates is:

3.3 You agree not to access (or attempt to access) the Market by any means other than through the interface that is provided by Google, unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Google. You specifically agree not to access (or attempt to access) the Market through any automated means (including use of scripts, crawlers or similar technologies from time to time) and shall ensure that you comply with the instructions set out in any robots.txt file present on the Market website.

With that out of the way, here is the step-by-step required to make APK Downloader work correctly (follow these instructions after installing the extension):

Disable SSL error warnings

  • Right click on the Chrome shortcut and select "Properties"
  • Select the "Shortcut" tab, and append [space]--ignore-certificate-errors at the end. It should look like this:

C:\…\chrome.exe --ignore-certificate-errors

  • Close Chrome and re-open it with the modified shortcut, then open the APK Downloader options page. If there is no warning box, then you successfully disabled SSL error warnings.

apkdownloader2

Enter your email, password, and device ID

  • You can use this app to easily find your device ID.
  • Enter the email and password associated with your Market account.

...and that's pretty much it. You can now start using APK Downloader.

apkdownloader

Of course, many users are inevitably going to ask the question why does it want my email, password, and device ID? Fortunately, this has been addressed in the extension's FAQ:

Why do I have to enter my email, password and device ID? Does it store or send my password to another place?
-  The extension only stores email, device id and Android Market cookie in Chrome local storage, on your computer. To be able to get Android Market cookie, it needs your email and password to login at https://www.google.com/accounts/ClientLogin . After it’s done, password is not stored, email is stored to display on Options page, Device ID and Cookie are stored for later requests. I do not send those information to another sites.

To check out the full FAQ, go here (scroll down to the bottom of the page) - we definitely recommend taking a few minutes to read it before you move forward with installing the extension.

Also, for anyone who would like to take a closer look at the extension's source code (we've already taken a look to ensure it doesn't contain any sort of malware, and it looks clean), Artem has put it up right here for you.

So there you go - an easy way to download APKs directly from the Market. Enjoy.

[Code Kiem via Reddit]

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Scott

    This also violates the Market TOS, so I'm surprised you're encouraging users to use it.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      It's very useful, a lot of times I want to download an apk from the Market for inspection without having to install it on my phone, then pulling it from there and risking malicious activity. Also, it's the quickest way to mirror an APK if people are asking for it. Totally love this project.

      I'll investigate your ToS warning and update with it if I find the right clause. Thanks.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      OK, this seems to be the clause: "3.3 You agree not to access (or attempt to access) the Market by any means other than through the interface that is provided by Google, unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Google. You specifically agree not to access (or attempt to access) the Market through any automated means (including use of scripts, crawlers or similar technologies from time to time) and shall ensure that you comply with the instructions set out in any robots.txt file present on the Market website. "

    • Darius_bd

      Sometimes it's also helpful when you only have internet on a notebook and you wanna install something on your phone. Found the hard way that ad-hoc aint the same as an infrastructure AP

  • http://wingtour.weebly.com WingTourRyan

    looks like its been pulled damn im too late

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      What's been pulled? It's still there.

  • pflorin

    forces you to turn off SSL on Chrome which makes your browsing unsecure .. looks like a rogue APK

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      You're right about making the browser more insecure, but only because it won't warn you about SSL mismatches. It doesn't force you to turn off SSL, and I'm not even sure what rogue APK you're talking about.

    • Lake

      Just make a separate shortcut and only use it for when downloading the apks. So you can stay secure when doing normal browsing

  • http://www.dark69slayer.wordpress.com George

    Its very useful for me, I don't have wi-fi or 3G ,basically I am on edge.I can now download the big apps from my pc and transfer it.
    BTW Can I copy paste this article on my blog and (with proper credits and links).I can't find the policy about all that stuff here.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I'd rather you not copy content straight up, Google may even penalize you for that. Just say a few things and link to the original story or here.

  • James

    I'd rather not have my account banned thanks!

  • Edward Germanotta

    Thanks for be clear about this... I've installed this an hour ago but I uninstalled after seen this... I dont know this was illegal

  • David Lee

    Tried checking to see if Google it from the Chrome Web Store (as they control both, I figured if it violates) and was unable to find it. (25 Feb 2012 @ 0410 hours)

    Anyone know how to write the appropriate dept. to ask? I would love for this capability to be available.

  • Bas

    Ouch, I'm not going to use it if it violates the ToS.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/dextersgenius deX

      Android also infringes dozens of patents (owned by Apple, Microsoft etc), which is much more serious than violation of a company's ToS. Therefore, you should stop using Android altogether.

      • Keith

        So does Apple and Microsoft, but who's counting...

  • Lon Lawrence

    and how do apple users append it? we don't have shortcuts like windows people do.

    • http://twitter.com/mikeGsays GarciaM25

      Easy, step one involves what happens right around the 2:35 mark on this classic video:

      http://youtu.be/PgZfMliwIv4

  • Dirty Little Burrito

    "Update 02/26: this extension is now fully deactivated. It’s hard for me to make this decision, because I really love it. Sorry people"

    It's gone now.

    • radixe

      Things posted on the internet is NEVER gone.

      • http://www.facebook.com/abetsi Albert Rabuyo

        does anybody have the extension?

        • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

          I do, and I just repacked it so that it doesn't auto-update itself and remains in the version that worked. However, it seems that the download link was generated by his server, so it still doesn't work.

        • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

          Here's the repacked version if you want it http://minus.com/mV72dR1AL

        • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

          Looks like it's back, and v1.2 now lets you change the country and operator!

  • http://www.facebook.com/abetsi Albert Rabuyo

    Goddammit!!! I NEED THIS EXTENSION!! I've been spending all month trying to figure out a way to download O2Jam Analog on my Atrix!! UYKEHJW<KC!!!

  • rkg

    Says “You must disable SSL error warnings in able to use this extension. Read more” though I did everything as said, did copy and paste "--ignore-certificate-errors", put e-mail, password and device ID correctly. How to fix?
    Thank you.

  • nycsteeler

    How do you install the extension? I downloaded the file and it's name is 1.0_0.crx - I tried adding it to Chrome and I got an error: "Manifest file is missing or unreadable"

  • nycsteeler

    Never mind - dragged and dropped into Chrome.

  • nycsteeler

    Anyone know how to get the device id for a Viewsonic Gtablet? There's a nifty app on the Android Market - which of course, I can't access.

  • Eduardo

    I have tried everything in the instructions and my computer won't allow me to write over the file name. any thoughts?

    • jake

      Get a better computer?

  • A

    I am getting Forbidden Error 403 will all apps.....

    • jake

      Works here, though I did just get an Error 500 previously. It's annoying that the download has to go through his server at the moment. There really is no need for that.

  • http://maxhungama.com Rahul

    not avaibale now :(

  • Loosker
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