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Chrome Extension Lets You Download Android App Apks Directly From the Market to Your Desktop

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When developer redphx sent over his latest creation last night – a Chrome extension that would allow you to download .apk files directly from the Android Market to your desktop – we had two immediate thoughts. The first, “Wow, this is actually really cool and could be useful down the road.” The second was, “While it’s cool and all, how frowned upon by Google and developers is this going to be?” And the reason I asked myself that second question is because pulling an installed .apk file from your phone isn’t normally the simplest procedure (and probably for a few good reasons). 

In most cases, a user needs to be rooted and have the understanding of where to look on their phone in order to accomplish the task. We would assume that this is made difficult to help stop piracy, protect users’ security, and to not let applications float freely around without control. This Chrome extension changes all of that. All you need to do is install the extension, give it a bit of device info and a legit Market login and you can start ripping .apks. Paid applications cannot be downloaded unless the Market login you gave had already purchased the app. So this isn’t a way to get paid apps for free, it’s just a way to get the .apk file without any fuss.

It’s not all bad though. How many times have we posted up a new app that was only available to select devices? Most of the time these apps can run on other phones, but the developer has only optimized them for a select few. This extension would give you to the opportunity to try out those apps even if the Market, your carrier, or developer has decided that you shouldn’t. Take Google Wallet for example. No need to use our browser trick if you have this extension installed.

So if this interests you, keep in mind that it asks for some bits of info that not everyone will be comfortable dishing out – like your device ID and Gmail login info. This is all apparently stored on a cookie that is only on your PC, but still, proceed with caution. You also have to tweak some Chrome security settings.

And yes, it works.

More Info:  Apk Downloader Page

 

  • Gasaraki

    This doesn’t seem to work if you have 2 step auth on your account. I can’t ever log in. Always says the username or password is wrong.

    • Gasaraki

       Ok, I was able to get it to work by generating an application specific password.

      • Gasaraki

         OK… just found out it doesn’t work for Verizon phones. Currently have a G Nexus.

  • Shawn Maloney

    From his blog he is coming out with an updated version, modified for free apps only

  • http://twitter.com/K3ITH_TAYLOR Keith taylor

    He took the extention down on his web site please up date this!

  • kevin

    Its shut down now

  • Eric Davis

    Does anyone have a mirror to a backup of this extension?

  • Tim242

    Isn’t it easier to just copy the apk in Root Explorer?

  • rlorenz

    Looks like the guy shut his download page down.  Hmm…

  • feztheforeigner

    As an Android only developer, I am VERY concerned about this…my paid apps are suddenly going to posted everywhere! (One user will buy it then upload the .apk somewhere for free)

    • Tim242

      As a dev, you should be aware that this can already be done from the phone with Root Explorer.

      • feztheforeigner

        I am aware of that, however this will make the process a hundred times easier…

        • Tim242

          Nope, it’s much easier to copy apk from root explorer. This method requires a browser extension, and disabling browser security…and has to be done from PC.

  • Royal2000H

    It was easy to copy apk’s with a file manager before – I don’t think this makes a big difference.

    Also for the people who say – download a paid app – refund – use. Doesn’t the licensing system (which most paid apps use nowadays) check to make sure it’s still licensed aka not refunded?

  • jrummy16

    You don’t need root to backup an app to your SD card. There are several non root apps that simply copy the apk over. The only way a non-root user can’t make a backup is if the app is installed to /data/app-private which hardly any apps do now.

    If the maximum security an app has is the hope that the user won’t copy over the app and install later then chances are the app is.. well, crap :P

  • MKader17

    I would never ever use this to steal an app, but it would be nice t use this to circumvent the 15min refund policy for apps that need more time than that to test their worthiness .

    • PuzzleShot

      You still have to pay for the app to download it don’t you?

      • Ben

        I have to guess that he means:
        1. Buy the app
        2. Download APK
        3. Refund the app
        4. Use for 1-30 days to test usefulness
        5. Re-Purchase the app through the app store or Uninstall

      • http://www.facebook.com/TJHRULZ tjhrulz

        I think his idea was download the app get refund and then if you like it buy it again, which is sketchy imo. Still options are nice 

  • http://skim.la skim

    Ignoring certificate errors is just a bad idea to set by default.  I would probably use a separate shortcut to have this flag included and only visit the Android market.

    • Lake

      This is what I did

  • fvqu

    This makes it much easier to install apps like Google Wallet that are blocked from the market.

    • Tim242

      That’s easy to do from.your phone, no.signing in necessary.

      1. Go to http:// market.android.com
      2. Choose browser
      3. Search app, choose browser
      4. Click icon of app, NOT INSTALL
      5. Choose market

      This takes you to your market to download

      • fvqu

        I was already fully aware of this process, I’m just pointing out the fact that there is now an alternate solution, thank you 

        • http://twitter.com/metal_legions Mark G

          Pointing out an alternate solution exactly like the one already listed in the main article?  Thanks for playing.

  • Jason Purp

    There’s nothing wrong with this, morally. Or however you want to put it. You could always take a paid or free APK from your phone and put it onto your computer. This app just makes it easier.

  • jdrch

    Requires crippling the browser’s security features. Risks far outweigh the benefits IMO.

    • Shawn Maloney

      You can use the link to diable just to do the download and then remove for regular browsing

  • http://twitter.com/Urboyissues Yourissues

    most paid for apps check for a license anyway.. so even if you did do that.. when your friend installs it it’s going to pop up with a license error and FC.. so.. let’s not be shady all the time.. and make Devs worry more then they already do

  • http://twitter.com/Footba11Joe Joey Malcomb

    If an app has been pulled from the Market, but is already on my phone, would I be able to download the apk with this method?
    I have the Andy-86 calculator app (just like a TI-86) on my phone, and a lot of my friends want to get it on their phone…

    • akazerotime

      you can always make a backup of the APK in Titanium back up and then email your back up to them.

    • Shane McKeever

      Astro backup is another way. I have found that you can upload a file (.apk, mp3, etc) to Yahoo mail, via the Yahoo Mail app, and email it to Gmail for download. Won’t work uploading to Gmail for whatever reason. Astro and Titanium give you copies of your files that are easy to find when you want to upload.

  • Ryan C

    Basically, the problem i see with this is you can purchase an app, download it to your computer, then do 1 of 2 things. upload it to some cloud storage account you have, (dropbox, etc..) then get a refund on the app. then go and open up your cloud storage app on your device, download and install the file. paid app for free. 2nd way, after download, refund the app, then you can just plug in your phone to the computer and copy the file to the phone, then install. again paid app for free. I’m not saying this couldn’t be done other ways before but this greatly simplifies it for people who normally wouldnt know what they were doing or how or didnt have root. 

    • MKader17

      I just tested this with a premium version of an app and it worked exactly as you described. That is really unfortunate because too many developers give away so much for free just to have people try to get even more for free. Hopefully it doesn’t do this will all apps.

      *Disclaimer – I did not steal the app. I have deleted the .apk and uninstalled it from my phone.*

      • Ryan C

        Exactly. See, this is what would lead to an “All sales are final” change in their policy. There would be no refund window at all, which none of us want.

        • http://www.facebook.com/TJHRULZ tjhrulz

          Actually this was doable before

          • Ryan C

            you missed my point entirely.

          • http://www.facebook.com/TJHRULZ tjhrulz

            Then explain to me what you point is that I missed, if I understand you are worried that they will get rid of the refund window. It is just as easy to do this now as it was before, there are apps in the android market that do what this extension does already in just as much time. Your point if I understood is moot then, and again if you point I did miss interpret please explain to me better than so I may then make a better argument.

            Edit: On a side not I do not agree though with not supporting a dev, if you like what they do support them when you can.

          • Ryan C

            My point was that this being on a computer already, would make it easier for just about anyone who can follow the directions, to download an app and then mass distribute it or refund and re-install. I didn’t say it wasn’t possible to do before, because it was very possible to do in a number of ways. This just makes it readily available for distribution and for refunding then re-installing. I do agree with you and everyone else though, if you like the devs work, it won’t kill you to pay for the app or donate to them.

  • Me

    Someone post a link to the google wallet apk please…

    • JohnDeere

      Here ya go, from my box storage. It works on my Verizon GNex.  Don’t know if it will work on any other android phone.  I got it from the Market when I could!

      http://www.box.com/s/ul729fguxzk7kluhuf26

  • Samvelavich

    i see a very large problem with this and paid apps…

    • http://profiles.google.com/infogulch Joe Taber

      I believe the downloaded apk still requires access to the market app and also the google login of the original purchaser. I could be wrong.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeffhamstra Jeff Hamstra

        NO, you can buy an app, pull the apk and send it to your friend. Only need to purchase it to download it originally

        • Jason Purp

           You can do that already!

      • Samvelavich

        if you think about it, when has an apk needed all that information anyway?

        • 4n1m4L

          nevar

      • feztheforeigner

        That would require an active internet connection which is why most devs stay away from that kind of protection.

    • http://www.deathbycone.com Jared Kotoff

      Its up to the developers to implement security features. I have a handful of apps that will not work by ripping the apk and sending it over.

  • jcorf

    This is pretty awesome!