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.


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.


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 . 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]