November 26, 2014

KeyesLabs Fights App Piracy with Automatic Application Licensing

KeyesLabs, makers of Screebl and Screebl Pro, have found their apps getting rather popular.  Great news, right?  Unfortunately, it’s not.  Developer and founder David Keyes estimates that after nearly 100,000 downloads, roughly 70% of them are pirated copies.  So, to combat this issue, KeyesLabs has created a new tool for developers called Automatic Application Licensing.

With one line of code, developers can insert a customizable validation tool to ensure apps are being purchased through the Android Market. At roughly 35kb, the library adds almost nothing to existing applications and gives the developer power over unlicensed copies.  Want to kill access to the app completely?  Go for it.  Feel like letting them skate by just one more time?  It’s up to you.  The licensing is transparent to end users as it doesn’t require any usernames, passwords, or serial numbers.

Sample AAL Screens

The library is available for immediate download and developer evaluation from www.keyeslabs.com.



  • http://paulpuri.name Paul Puri

    If you're pirating phone apps and can't shell out the $3 to buy it, you don't deserve a smart phone. Who are these people?!

    • Igor

      These, who cannot purchase, because no one is interested to let them buy. :D

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/droidin droidin

      Lame excuse that these are people from markets where paid apps are not available. But I have my doubts. Also there are plenty of people who will not purchase the app but are interested enough to use it for free

      • Igor

        I put the smiley if you haven't noticed and I agree some will pirate no matter of access and cost.

        I live in the country, where andorid phones are officialy distributed, but there's no access to paid apps. Many of my friends have phones since the early days of G1. I'm aware there are market alternatives, too. However, they leave a lot to be desired and the amount of apps makes you laugh.

        I have purchased a few apps via alternatives, but I would spent a lot more with access to paid apps. Actually a lot of apps cost less than a pocket of cigarettes that I buy almost every day.

        When you combine easy of locating and isntalling apps with no access, then I personaly think it has an influence on priacy and it teaches people a bad habbits.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/droidin droidin

          I probably should same "common" not "lame" since there are instances where it's a valid excuse. My bad – I have no intentions on hurting anyone's feelings. However – inconvenient truth is that selling your apps works similar to any digital media – there's always way to get something for free but people will pay if that "something" is inconvenient enough.
          I have 2 paid apps on the market and I'm perfectly aware that it's extremely hard to get your customer to part with even 99c. They may not hesitate to pay $5 for latte, but get Android app for free is everybody's favorite sport. So my theory is that even with paid market available everywhere people will continue to steal the content unless as I said it's too much hassle and it's easier to buy than steal

          • Igor

            Agree, but I personaly believe that only education can make a difference. There's no protection you cannot baypass and surprisingly people will put more effort to priate than the cost of an app.

            I have seen an article where guys hack on the bytecode of gmail to fix some notification issues. I wonder how much effort would that be to break the mentioned protection library and I bet it's not too much. Once modified apk hits the internet, then no hassle can stop it.

            Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only way I can buy your app is Android Market, isn't it ?

            I'm a dev too, I cannot buy, I don't even dream to sell.

        • bjtheone

          MarketEnabler will get you full paid app market access on all carriers.

          People stealing paid apps are doing just that stealing! The only justification I can see for using alternate channels is to evaluate apps that don’t have a demo version and are expense. Like say GPS apps that you have to buy before you can get the maps officially.

      • Igor

        One more think comes to my mind.

        Those who pirate won't buy, but many people want to buy but they cannot.

  • http://paulpuri.name Paul Puri

    If you're pirating phone apps and can't shell out the $3 to buy it, you don't deserve a smart phone. Who are these people?!

  • http://twitter.com/jt @jt

    Does this allow for installing on multiple devices if you have more than one Android device?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/droidin droidin

      Yep – or at least it seems that way since you are validating through Google with your credentials and Google allows you to download app to any device that you are logged in with your account

    • http://twitter.com/_Hurricane_ @_Hurricane_

      Yes, all it does is verifies that your gmail account has the purchase history in it, so as long as you use the same gmail on all your devices youll be able to install it on all of them.

  • gad

    Am 100% in support of this. The developers deserve to make profit from their hard work.And by the way most of the apps are aren't that expensive,so no one is got an excuse pirating them

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/droidin droidin

      If they cut price in half – I will definitely go for it

  • GPLorBust

    I could care less what this software does. I will only use software that respect my freedom to study, modify, use for any purpose, and redistribute the code. I could also care less about this company as it whines and cries as if it is *entitled* to something. No person or company is entitled to a profit; only the opportunity to try and obtain one.

    I'll take a look at this company and their products ONLY when their code is released under the GPL or some other freedom-granting license. Until then, I wish this company nothing but gloom and doom.

  • GPLorBust

    I could care less what this software does. I will only use software that respect my freedom to study, modify, use for any purpose, and redistribute the code. I could also care less about this company as it whines and cries as if it is *entitled* to something. No person or company is entitled to a profit; only the opportunity to try and obtain one.

    I'll take a look at this company and their products ONLY when their code is released under the GPL or some other freedom-granting license. Until then, I wish this company nothing but gloom and doom.

    • Igor

      what have you releases, that anybody would care, under the freedom-granting license ?

  • Anon

    I never understood Screebl. I knew what it did, I knew how it worked, and I knew about the potential benefits it claimed. I always figured, as long as I didn't forget where my Sleep button was, turning off my screen manually was always a better alternative. The constant service that monitors axis levels probably would negate most of the battery you save having Screebl auto-off your phone.

    I took my skepticism a step further and pirated a copy, and tested it for a week, just to see if it made a difference. To my surprise, it did! When I found out about it's gains, I bought the app. About a week after that, I uninstalled it, because using a custom made dock removed the functionality that Screebl provided.

    If I didn't have the opportunity to test it, I probably would have never even bothered. KeyesLabs got my money either way. The cost of the app isn't expensive. But I do like to beta test apps. A LOT. And short of running up a huge bill of apps, I resort to pirating. I buy apps I like, I donate to free apps I use (hello handcent, twicca, astrid), and all is right in the world.

    I'm sure I won't be missed taking a stance like this, but I'm hoping a lot of people feel the same way I do.

    • http://twitter.com/Aitese @Aitese

      You do know that Android allows for you to install, test and then uninstall for a full refund. This excuse of yours makes no sense.

      • Anon

        through the post it was implied that two days is not enough testing time,

    • Mr. Bones

      I DO IT TOO. Piracy isn't a bad way of marketing as long as your contributing in the end, I had a pirated copy of Power Manager loved it so much I still have it and since have purchased it, in fact all my pirate copy's are gone and I have had nothing but love for the legit copy's of these APK's there should be a way of not having to shell out even a simple 99c for a period of time over the 24hrs the market gives you for a refund. The dev's deserving the cash can take it, but there is a lot of cruft out there.
      -Bones

  • Anon

    I never understood Screebl. I knew what it did, I knew how it worked, and I knew about the potential benefits it claimed. I always figured, as long as I didn't forget where my Sleep button was, turning off my screen manually was always a better alternative. The constant service that monitors axis levels probably would negate most of the battery you save having Screebl auto-off your phone.

    I took my skepticism a step further and pirated a copy, and tested it for a week, just to see if it made a difference. To my surprise, it did! When I found out about it's gains, I bought the app. About a week after that, I uninstalled it, because using a custom made dock removed the functionality that Screebl provided.

    If I didn't have the opportunity to test it, I probably would have never even bothered. KeyesLabs got my money either way. The cost of the app isn't expensive. But I do like to beta test apps. A LOT. And short of running up a huge bill of apps, I resort to pirating. I buy apps I like, I donate to free apps I use (hello handcent, twicca, astrid), and all is right in the world.

    I'm sure I won't be missed taking a stance like this, but I'm hoping a lot of people feel the same way I do.

  • Aladar

    Yeah, you know what would help?
    LET US PURCHASE THE THINGS!
    I would be more than glad to buy ALL of the apps! But I just *can't*.. Thanks, Google!!

  • Aladar

    Yeah, you know what would help?
    LET US PURCHASE THE THINGS!
    I would be more than glad to buy ALL of the apps! But I just *can't*.. Thanks, Google!!

  • Keith

    hopefully once Google officially supports Apps on SD cards then something like this will be built in.

    I do have a question about the article. You qoute David Keyes saying he "estimates that after nearly 100,000 downloads, roughly 70% of them are pirated copies" Can you actually download a pirated copy of something from the market? I always assumed the pirated copies are sideloaded.

  • http://ekas0615.student.ipb.ac.id khay

    thank you so much for info. nice post :p

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