Explanation of the New Screebl Pro Licensing Features Print E-mail

As of version 2.2.0 of Screebl Pro, a new licensing mechanism called Automatic Application Licensing (AAL) has been bundled with the app.  The purpose of AAL is to allow painless verification that the user of Screebl Pro actually purchased the app from the Android Market.  We've taken this step to attempt to put a stop to the insane levels of piracy that Screebl has seen, and so far, things seem to be working out nicely.

I've received a number of questions over the course of the last few days asking me how AAL works, why we chose to include it in Screebl Pro, and what the implications are for users.  This article will cover the details, and describe why we finally decided to pull the trigger on licensing in our mobile apps...

Over the course of the last three months, Screebl Pro has met with decent success for an Android application.  Generally, Android users are less willing to pay for apps than their Apple counterparts, and there are less Android handsets available at this point too.  Selling 50 - 100 apps per day is not bad for something that hasn't attained the mystical "featured" status.

Over time, however, we began to notice a dramatic increase in the number of pirated versions of Screebl Pro, accompanied by a decrease in sales. Lately our piracy rates have spiked as high as 90% on some days (see the Piracy Rate graphs below).  We were amazed at how easy it was to find Screebl Pro APKs online.  Generally it only took a few minutes from upload of a new version for that version to get posted on some warez board.  We decided to try and slow things down a bit, and that's when AAL was born. 


But how does AAL affect you as a user of Screebl?  Well, it's pretty simple, really.  Automatic Application Licensing validates your purchase of Screebl Pro against the Android market.  If it is able to successfully determine that you purchased the app, a license is generated and installed.  

Here are the detailed steps in the process of license validation using AAL.

  1. Query Android Market.  This is done using your Google credentials, asking for details on Screebl Pro. In those details is an indication of whether you have purchased the app. This is how the Android Market App on your phone determines whether to put the word "purchased" on apps that you've bought.
  2. If the app was purchased, we generate an encrypted license for that application, which is good for a bit longer than 24 hours.
  3. After 24 hours, if you start Screebl, the market will be consulted again. This is to handle the 24-hour refund policy that Google provides.
  4. Assuming that market still says that you've purchased Screebl Pro, a permanent license is generated for Screebl, you, and your phone. The market will no longer be queried.

That's about it!  If you change phones or carriers, the process will repeat until a license is generated on that phone. It really is about as painless a process as we could devise while still helping to deal with the 75% and higher piracy rates that we were seeing with Screebl Pro.