If we’re hearing any one thing from developers that is scaring’em away from Android, it’s that Android apps are just way, way too easy to pirate. Hell, you don’t even have to go through shady third party download sites; just buy an app, copy it to the sd card, and refund the application. Ta-da! (Read: Don’t do that.)
Google’s been talking for some time about a new, considerably more secure system for protecting applications from pirates and dishonest refunders. Today, that system goes live.
The new system seems pretty painless. One thing to note, however: it requires a bit of modification to each application, so apps already on the market won’t be protected until their developers choose to update them. Developers include a set of code libraries provided by Google, and then use those libraries to send a message to the Android Market app requesting the user’s licensing status. The Market then checks through its own database to see if a user really did buy the app, and then sends a message back to the app with all the details.
The whole system is free for developers to implement, and will work properly on any Android handset running Android Market 1.5 or later (read: just about all of them.)
The idea of server-based authentication is by no means a new one, and, like pretty much any anti-piracy method, it tends to be surmountable if the right hackers decide to take a stab at it. With that said, it’s a whole lot better than nothing (at least from a wary publisher’s standpoint.)