Cerberus is one of the more full-featured device security apps available on Android. It has more features than Android Device Manager, and more importantly it existed years before Google's solution. The developer has occasionally offered free lifetime licenses for the app, but now users are seeing that their "lifetime" licenses are set to expire in a few days. What gives?

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We've checked a few accounts that were recipients of the free lifetime promotion, and indeed they're set to expire in a little less than two weeks, according to the Cerberus web interface. If you click on the provided link, you get a PayPal page where you can buy a €4.99 license. The app itself doesn't mention the pending expiration at all. Affected users who have reached out to LSDroid have been told that making those licenses free for a lifetime wasn't feasible, presumably because of the cost. However, allowing them to expire without any sort of explanation is rather shady. Here's what our tipster was told when he contacted the developer.

We are sorry but we could not make those licenses last for a lifetime. We hope Cerberus helped you recover a lost or stolen device during these years, and that you will consider buying a license.

I'd wager running an app like Cerberus isn't easy right now as Google's Android Device Manager framework is good enough for most people, and it's included on every Android device. Look, we all want developers to be able to make a living creating the apps and services that we use, but that doesn't mean you should do whatever you can to make a buck. If you offer something free for a lifetime, you need to plan ahead and make sure you can hold up your end. At the very least, letting people know in advance about the license expiration would have been nice.

Official Statement from developer

Here's a full statement provided to us by the Cerberus developer.

We had to revoke free lifetime licenses that were given away during a few promotions we made years ago. We apologize for this and know it is a bad PR move, unfortunately it was not feasible anymore for us to provide a free service for life.

Free licenses will expire about 3 years after their beginning, and affected users will be notified via email before the license expires. We hope Cerberus helped those users recover a lost or stolen device, and that they will consider buying a license to continue to use our service. Paid licenses are not affected.

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  • Sander