Thoughts on Android Licensing Service

androidmarket.gifOne of my most popular posts recently was on problems with the Android Market. One of the issues was the ease with with apps can be pirated. I said…

"Developers need a simple ‘Is this app paid for’ API that would deter a significant amount of piracy. Maybe this could be done at the OS rather than the app level?"

It seems Google was already thinking about this because they have just announced a licensing service.

Interestingly, it’s sort of at the OS level because…

"Your app doesn’t talk directly to the licensing server; it IPCs to the Android Market client, which in turn takes care of talking to the server."

What’s especially good, if you are adding this to an existing app, is that you don’t need to use the latest SDK in order to use the service…

"Additionally, because the service uses no dedicated framework APIs, you can add licensing to any legacy application that uses a minimum API level of 3 or higher."

The only downside I can think of is that it only works for paid apps distributed solely via the Android Market. I have also distributed via PayPal and other developers often use alternative app stores to reach countries the Android Market doesn’t support. In order to protect applications, developers will have to either move to just using Android Market or have some kind of multi-stage licensing checking.

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