Amazon App Store Lures You in with Free Apps, Makes You Stay if You Want to Keep Them

June 14, 2011
35

The Amazon Appstore was a pretty bold move. Not only did they walk all over Apple's trademarked name, they introduced a brand new rival to the Android Market that Google manages. The Amazon Appstore does offer some handy features over the Google Market, including the give away of one free app a day. Turns out it isn't as free as we thought.

Did you know that if you uninstall the Amazon Appstore apps you downloaded from the store won't run anymore? Yeah neither did I until yesterday. A developer apparently pointed this out to San Francisco Chronicle yesterday. He noticed that the Amazon Appstore was perpetually running some background services, which he was unable to kill, so he proceeded to uninstall the Appstore, unwittingly losing access to any apps he downloaded from it.

What this means is if you want to keep running those free apps Amazon "gave you," you have to keep letting them run those background services. Looking over the Amazon Appstore Permissions, you'll notice that there isn't much it can't do. It even counts as a system tool, which is launched when you turn your phone on (that'd be those background services).

We haven't confirmed what it is exactly the Appstore is doing in the background, but likely possibilities are sending usage data back to Amazon. This also means that Amazon is modifying the APK's that developers submit to their market, causing them to force close if the Appstore is not installed. We'd assume that this is included in the contract devs sign with Amazon, but its still a little fishy.

Luckily re-downloading the Amazon Appstore isn't too dificult if you ever uninstall it by accident. What do you think? Android users are no strangers to background data, are you willing to let Amazon camp on your phone for a free app each day?

[via SFGate]


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  • http://digg.com/users/OmegaWolf Silver Fang

    figures there would be a catch.

  • http://twitter.com/dtg295 Jon

    Not too surprising. It’s not like the app developers and Amazon are in the business of giving away commercial software for free just because they can.

    • http://twitter.com/eRocatemysocks Eric Tamez

      I thought it was like music.  They offer daily deals so people visit the website and to entice new users to sign up for Amazon.  Like the Lady Gaga album for $.99.  They lost $3.2 million, but I’m sure they gained a ton of new Amazon users.

  • http://twitter.com/eRocatemysocks Eric Tamez

    Seems very apple-ish to me.  Feels more like they aren’t really my apps then, if I can’t leave that eco-system with those apps.  I either own something or I don’t.  Debating, but I’ll probably just delete all the apps and the appstore.  Other then plants vs. zombies, they really don’t offer me anything worthwhile.

    • http://twitter.com/TurboFool Jarrett Kaufman

      You can’t delete the Google Market or the Android OS and still run the apps you bought on it, can you? Same deal, only they don’t have access to the OS-level DRM that Google builds into the Market. I’m at a loss for why this is such a big issue.

  • http://profiles.google.com/godtoe Steven Garone

    Yeah, it’s probably for DRM reasons.

    • http://twitter.com/eRocatemysocks Eric Tamez

      How does Google keep you from pirating apps on their app store?  I’m not being sarcastic I’m seriously asking.  I have a phone without service that I run in Airplane mode all the time(just for games and music).  I can still use all my apps.

      • http://twitter.com/TurboFool Jarrett Kaufman

        Because all of that functionality is built into the OS at that point, since Google controls it. Amazon doesn’t have access to those resources, so they have to run a service.

      • http://twitter.com/TurboFool Jarrett Kaufman

        Because all of that functionality is built into the OS at that point, since Google controls it. Amazon doesn’t have access to those resources, so they have to run a service.

  • http://twitter.com/thDigitalReader Nate the great

    Actually, I do have a pretty good idea. Every so often the Appstore client phones home to Amazon. If it can’t then it blocks you from using the apps. You knew that, yes, but did you know that Amazon can remotely disable apps?
    http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2011/04/12/apps-from-amazon-routinely-phone-home-and-other-interesting-details/

  • therealjorge

    Yeah, this news was actually broken the day after the Amazon Appstore was released. But I guess it doesn’t hurt to remind people with the veil of “new information.” Virtually any platform that gives away paid services for free has to do something like this

  • http://devlogic.org/ Paul Leonard

    Part of the initial discussions when the Amazon Appstore launched were about (mis-?) communications by Amazon to developers as to whether using the Amazon DRM was required (it’s not, but it seems most app developers are opting to use it). And that particular DRM verifies that you have a valid Amazon account (i.e, signed into the Amazon app store) to authorize app usage. I’m not the kind to blatantly say “OLD NEWS!”, but in this case I think it’s a case of the Internet forgot about something, rather than this being an all-new atrocity about which we should be frothing at the lips.  Also, tanstaafl.

  • dboftlp

    This isn’t news. We heard that before the App Store even launched.
    If you had read the comments on the article whose headline you’re scooping, you would’ve realized this isn’t a story.
    Poor reporting + weaksauce to boot!

  • http://twitter.com/TurboFool Jarrett Kaufman

    I’m at a complete loss as to what the issue is here. We knew this before the Appstore was ever released, and I don’t see anything unreasonable about this. The same functionality exists in the Google Market, only you can’t uninstall it to find that out, and its check-in functionality is built into the OS instead of a running service. It’s still using memory, just not in a visible way. Why is this such a serious concern? It’s not a “catch” to getting the apps for free, as I’m sure the paid apps have the same “issue” in that the developers have the right to require a regular check-in with the Amazon Appstore app to ensure you actually own the software. It’s no more intrusive than any other DRM, and less so than most.

  • Nex1

    Old news,just not highlighted. Solid protection for devs means better content for users. Rio and P V Z for examples. Amazon’s market is great, who cares if it runs in the bg there is no impact to performance or battery life.

    • wpfn

      I do, its a royal pita if I wanna play a game because I have to go login to amazon first. Think I’ll pass on that…gonna uninstall Amazon and anything else that goes along with it.

    • wpfn

      I do, its a royal pita if I wanna play a game because I have to go login to amazon first. Think I’ll pass on that…gonna uninstall Amazon and anything else that goes along with it.

  • Mike

    I would, yes. Too bad the Samsung Captivate Galaxy S won’t let you install the Appstore in the first place. 

  • Mike

    I would, yes. Too bad the Samsung Captivate Galaxy S won’t let you install the Appstore in the first place. 

  • http://www.djcube.co.uk Cube1701

    I don’t mind. It’s likely app protection stuff, anyway. 

    What is annoying is that it still isn’t available outside the US. 

  • Lteitelb

    This is news?? I uninstalled that piece of junk long ago. There are plenty of free apps in the Android market.

  • Nope-a-licious

    Figured this out within the first week, what’s the big deal?

  • Mat

    All of a sudden I’m no longer disapointed the Amazon AppStore isn’t available in Canada, thanks :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R43ZIVJRY4LFJ5KOIPM5DV2ZGQ Anonymous

    After doing some of my own testing, it looks like the app author is to blame for choosing to use Amazon’s DRM.

    I tested this by installing one of my free Amazon App .apk files into a clean Android emulator–it worked.

    I will say, however, that when you’re purchasing something, DRM is evil, period, so I won’t ever be purchasing apps from the Amazon store that cost money, for fear of the future App Store requirement.

  • Musingthetrauma

    I figured that out the first day I grabbed a free app. Only wanted the app not the store so I uninstalled it and hey now the app doesn’t work.
    There’s really only enough phone memory for essentials as I see it anyway. Ap2sd still uses a bit of phones memory so until you can move all apps to the card, uninstall pre added apps you never use, or add internal memory, markets like that wont go too far

  • Tom

    TThis is Crap. You have to log in to the app store to run all apps obtained from the Amazon app store. This is so wrong on so many levels.

  • Tom

    TThis is Crap. You have to log in to the app store to run all apps obtained from the Amazon app store. This is so wrong on so many levels.

  • TheLarryBrown

    Absolutely not. Amazon, learn this: people do not like not-in-use apps running in the background. No matter what anyone says to the contrary, background apps are wasting CPU cyles, battery, memory, & patience. An unused app running in the background is a guaranteed uninstall from me. I have dozens of app instaled, what if they all ran in the background when not in use? Amazon app store & Amazon mp3 both offend & both get uninstalled.

    I *hate* not to own my own stuff. When I download an app I want it with no strings attached. Amazon appstore is a loser.

  • QC

    I hate this appstore!  I downloaded it to start some free games without knowing the background services is running up my bill. I don’t have unlimited data and have been using wifi, I try to very careful and even disable the background services on my phone and other apps. Not only does Amazon Appstore doesn’t let me turn off it in their own settings, but it also overrides the default setting on my phone.  I didn’t even know until I updated it to the new version and kept occurring charges even though I’m not surfing or using it.  T-Mobile charges 1.99 per MB and I’ve already ran up 15 MB, probably from that app. 
    -Samsung Galaxy S

  • Generiamateria

    No. I’m not willing. I too unloaded the Amazon appstore after noticing it was contlually running in background. now nothing is running correctly. I will not be strongarmed into reinstalling amazon app stor. Id sooner unnstall each Amazon App and buy it elsewhere.
    _

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if using the new ICS feature of freezing apps (not uninstalling them but preventing them from operating (i.e., won’t take CPU or memory) will work on the Amazon AppStore to allow you to run your apps but without Amazon’s background processes.

  • Droidatart

    This may be old news but I’m a noob and its new to me.  Thanks for posting this information,  I only learned about it because of my battery drain.  I started doing some researching and with System tuner pro I discovered the Amazon Appstore was consuming 25%cpu.  I would have kept if it was not such a memory hog but that was ridiculous.  Again I’m a noob but I uninstalled and I’ll see if it makes a diff.

    Thanks for the post.  Information is power

  • Umopepisdn

    Same experience as Droidatart — on my Xoom, the Amazon Appstore was spinning excessively on something in the background, sucking down my battery power.  I uninstalled the Appstore, and things were fine… until my Gentle Alarm (free app of the day from a while back) kept going off repeatedly, but I was forced to close before I could silence it.

    Same with a text messaging app that I’d come to rely on.  Now I need to choose between uninstalling everything from the FAotD library, or living with horrendous battery drain. 
    Guess who loses?

  • cramped

    14mb now for the amazon appstore is excessive. I don’t care what background processes they run, but I’m out of space and I guess the 2 or 3 apps I’ve gotten through the appstore I’ll just have to repurchase from google. Cuz I need the 14mb back. Virgin Mobile Optimus V.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shawn.springer.9 Shawn Springer

    I noticed that apps you installed on one device with the app store have to be re-purchased on your new phone. I installed amazon app store, said I had no apps.. I had 8 free ones that now charge you for them, even if they were on your previous phone.