Google Android Market to Stop Unauthorized App Use

Google's Android team said it has created a security tool to prevent the illegal use of paid Android applications in the Android Market. The move joins carrier billing in the latest in a series of efforts to make the Market a more serious application store.

In a move geared to please Android developers, Google July 27 said it has created a free licensing service to protect paid applications in the Android Market from unauthorized use.

The move will prevent tech-savvy users from downloading for-fee applications on the Android Market, which has some 70,000 free and paid programs.

The service includes a set of libraries developers can use to query the Android Market licensing server to check up on licensing status of users.

The program retrieves information on whether users are authorized to access the app based on stored sales records, said Eric Chu, a member of Google's Android Developer Ecosystem, in a blog post.

"This licensing service operating real time over the network provides more flexibility in choosing license-enforcement strategies, and a more secure approach in protecting your applications from unauthorized use, than copy protection," Chu explained.

Google plans to replace the current Android Market copy protection tool with the new licensing service, which will manage access to all paid Market apps for Android 1.5 or higher, over the next few months.

Google has taken a lot of heat over the last few months for Android Market.

While the store has attracted thousands of developers who prefer the open source approach over the more strongnet App Store from Apple, the open and freewheeling ethos has sacrificed some quality.

For example, DoubleTwist's Jon Lech Johansen said the Market suffered from insufficient billing and too much spam.

Google also attracted attention when it used the Market's remote application removal feature to remove two potentially malicious applications from Android devices.

On the company's second quarter earnings call July 15, Google Senior Vice President of Product Management Jonathan Rosenberg promised several changes were in motion to boost the e-commerce capabilities and overall user experience for developers and consumers of the Android Market.

Google signaled one such change July 22, when it said that it is preparing to allow consumers to purchase applications from the Android Market and charge them to their wireless phone bills.