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Android app licensing | A thought from Gilbert

By on 15 March 2012

It didn’t take very long for this to come to a boiling point, I’m sure it’s been said a thousand times before but I need to add my own take; app licensing on Android is broken beyond measure and is often a major barrier to enjoying your Android device.

In the day, I work for a bank as a people manager. I work on this site during my breaks, my commute to & from work and at night at home. As a bank employee, it is a violation when at work to have your phone even be visible, so believe me that my ability to test or even look at apps during the day is very limited.

My commute to and from work is 45 minutes, 30 minutes of which is spent underground on the subway; this is where my rant is born.

March 12th 2012 was the rebirth of Kiss My Apps, when i’m buying and downloading apps now, it is for review, I dedicate the available time I have to experiencing Android apps, it is paramount to this website’s success. So imagine how I must feel when I pay for an app on Google Play, download & install it and then while on my commute, I launch it and get this screen:


The problem with the way too many apps check licensing is that the app is programmed, first and foremost to assume that I, the paying customer, am a thief. The app launches, realizes it can’t check due to no wifi or data connection, then gives the rejection message and exits.

Google, needs to consider it’s customers put itself in our shoes. Software should never be programmed to outright defy the intended action it is supposed to take. Add limitations or find other ways to accomplish your need, but do not tell me I am not entitled to use the app I paid for.

If I seem frustrated,  it’s because I am, and this is something I felt I should share with my fellow Android users and hopefully this gets back to Google. Before my commute recently, I installed 4 apps, I planned to play Zoo Keeper DX during my subway ride to work for review but it rejected me due to license issues, I tried 2 more with the same result. What’s worse, the 4th app needed to download additional data to work. 


Puzzling me further is the direction which Android is headed, Samsung is releasing their second wifi only iPod competitor very soon. So how the hell are these iPod competitors supposed to work when the apps won’t even launch without a data connection? Plus I don’t own a tablet, but this must also be a huge issue for owners of those. Wifi isn’t everywhere, and there will be a moment where you will absolutely need a certain app.

Looking ahead though, Google absolutely needs to figure a way that an app downloaded from Google Play should be installed with all the required data so that it will run on the first try (no additional step to start a download) and most importantly the apps need to be authenticated without the need to launch it. I obviously had a network connection when the app was downloaded, so authenticate, right here, right now and without having the user initiate it, do anything or even know it’s happening!

Users are being forced to participate in activities they don’t care about. We should only have to participate in choosing an app, buying/downloading it and using it when we’re ready (even if that’s somewhere without wifi or a data connection). At this time, the only way around this is to run every app right when you finish installing it, in order to “check in” with the license system or to ensure there isn’t additional data to download. Let’s say you installed 10 apps at once, can you imagine having to babysit your phone through that?

Let’s remember that these apps need to “check in” again from time to time, so even if you took the precaution to “check in” but you’ve become accustomed to playing the same game often on the subway, you’ll one day find yourself launching the game and inexplicably getting the “black screen of licensing”. Now, how is that for user experience?

Kiss it or Diss It?

Google, fix yo’ sh*t! DISS!