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Android App longevity and legacy

Discussion in 'Android Apps & Games' started by efjaydee, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    There is something about Android apps and games that bothers me. When I buy certain apps/games off Google Play, an installer file is run to setup the app/game.

    I don't get the option to save this installer incase I need it later. Then, some apps/games then proceed to download additional resources/assets, I assume from Google Play or the developer's servers.

    That worries me, what if those server's go offline or are shutdown? I've seen backup apps, which I assume will not backup those resources/assets without rooting my device, something I'm NOT sure I'd want to try or if it's even possible on my device without complications.

    This seems like a weakness in Android's app model, if someone in a number of years from now want's to run his/her favourite old app/game and that server is long gone, then the app is utterly useless? Is that correct? I have an extensive library of software and games from different OS's dating back to the late 70's, most require emulation to run but I can still do it! It seems to me that preserving legacy Android apps simply will not be possible.

    This was all brought into focus for me recently when we moved to a new area, mobile internet simply didn't work in the area (and the phone companies have no intention of ever improving the situation) and we were not able to get internet installed for almost two months. Even though we have internet now, it's not reliable at all. In that time, I encountered some of the above issues when reinstalling apks only to find they needed inaccessible servers to install resources/assets. I also was running a Chrome OS machine which needed a complete reset, needless to say, that device was completely useless with no way to setup and reinstall offline. The experience made me worry about the extent to which we rely on internet servers just being there forever and always accessible.

    I would like to be able to download and save my apps/games to my own machines and install them at my leisure without depending on a third party... ...just like I've been doing for decades now.

    I'd appreciate hearing what others think and if anyone has any workarounds or solutions. Thanks.
     

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  2. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    It's not just Android with Google Play, think they're all delivering software that way now. Windows, Mac OS X and iOS all got their app stores, where you're relying on them for your apps to be available should you need to factory reset and/or reinstall. It's really a form of DRM to try and deter piracy IMO.

    Thing is when you're buying software, you're buying a license that entitles you to use that software, and not purchasing the software itself. And of course licenses can be rescinded.

    Preserving current software that's delivered by the cloud or relys on internet servers may not be possible for future generations. The software companies don't want you doing that, they want you to buy(license) their latest products of course.

    I'm mainly using open source software now for my work and leisure, with a Linux OS on my laptops. TBH I've not had any experience of paid apps for Android, because they're not available. Everything I've installed has been freeware.
     
  3. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    A contributing factor to us scrapping our Apple hardware and switching to Linux. I want the apps offline so I can reinstall when the internet is NOT available.

    Maybe, but pirates will always find some method around it. I have been buying Android games legally and DRM-free via Humblebundle, but even they sometimes need to download additional resources from a server - which may disappear anytime.

    Well, when I buy software, I expect to own that copy and do whatever I like with it, include keep a copy for personal use in future - if they don't like it, they can sue me. :) It's a bit insidious that they can rescind licences without us being able to do anything about it.

    Well, that's a shame and means a lot of apps will be lost forever over time. I guess throwaway apps are a symptom of our throwaway society. I'll probably continue being careful what I buy off Google Play, and continue supporting DRM-free sales and OSS.

    It's a similar reason as to why I don't buy (license) music, books or movies online. I want to own it and do as **I** want with it, not what they want - for as long as they care to provide the service.

    Thanks for that perspective, appreciated. ;-)
     
  4. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    Linux here too, I rely on open source software because of the non-restrictive freedoms it gives the user. I have started to use F-DROID on Android too.
     
  5. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    This is in the Play Store EULA, for every "purchase" that you make.
    "Google may remove from your Device or cease providing you with access to certain Products that you have purchased."

    It's all academic to me, basically because of where I am and what I choose to use. But it is something to be aware of for anything that we don't truly own. Really we're only leasing the products.
     
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  6. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    Sure it's same thing for current games consoles as well. I wonder if future generations will be able to enjoy Xbox or Playstation games, when the internet servers that they rely on are no longer there.

    I can play 35 year old Atari 2600 games no problem at all. But will I, or future generations be able to play Call of Duty: Ghosts or whatever in 35 years time? Likely not.
     
  7. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    I've not experienced that yet on Google Play, but I did when I was an Apple user. I had a Space Invaders type game, one of the first I bought for iOS, it was great but not a Taito product. Eventually Apple removed it from the App Store and Taito released their own but it wasn't as good. Fortunately I had the ipk on an iTunes backup so I could continue using it, but that's the point - the ipk was completely self contained with no extra bits that had to be downloaded separately.
     
  8. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    Valid point, that probably doesn't affect me, I don't really buy consoles anymore and certainly wouldn't buy one where physical copies of games were not possible. I do play NeoGeo games though and yes, I own 36 legally. I also have heaps of Atari and other carts (I still buy and sell them) - I collect software and games I like just like I collect movies, music and books - it's the freedom to do that is what I guess I'm getting at.
     
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  9. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    Gameloft and EA games always seem to need to download a chunk of additional data from a server before they'll function. So obviously if the server is not there and we got no backup, we can't play them and they're lost forever. They're not interested in preservation. If anyone dare try to archive them and make them available, that's copyright infringement. Personal backup is OK.

    BTW Archive.org preserves some software and games for future generations. They can legally do it because they're registered as a library. But you can only use them in your browser online. Like a library lends you books, you're not entitled or keep or copy them.
     
  10. zuben el genub

    zuben el genub Extreme Android User
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    You downloaded PRC files for Palm from all over. But you could file them away and as long as a device functioned, still use them. I like Astromist, I've had it for well over 10 years. The dev is still going although mostly for IOS right now. But I can still get the program to run. I still have all games, passwords and programs.

    You should be able to back up for personal use.
     
  11. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    Until the Digital Mellenium Copyright Act threatens to put you in jail for breaking DRM, even for personal use, although IANAL
     
  12. AngryHatter

    AngryHatter Android Expert
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    I had an app that suddenly disappeared from my device and when I went to look for it got the message - This App is No Longer Compatible With You Device.
    At least Google will give me the $2 back.
     
  13. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    I had that quite a lot when I owned a Nexus, that was more to do with frequent Android updates that broke application compatibility, the developer would usually fix it within a week or so.
     
  14. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    Well, I know it does surprise some folk, but US law only applies in the USA, not the planet. But I am not talking about DRM or circumventing it - no, that WOULD be illegal, I don't think an Android download is DRM'd.

    But if considering the law in the US, I guess it would be like the emulator ROM arguements. To quote off wikipedia (not the best source for legal rulings - LOL):

    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the personal use of copyrighted material, irrespective of how those copies are made, or in what format they are stored - even if it differs from the original, is non-infringing (Sony v. Universal).

    Chuck Cochems has put forth the argument that copying a legitimate item of software specifically for personal use with an emulator is legally justifiable under principles established by the Sony v. Universal ruling, particularly with regard to personal use being favorable towards justification under the fair use doctrine.

    Some games companies, such as Nintendo, print warnings inside their game manuals that they do not allow users to make backup or archival copies. Whether these warnings in this specific form can be considered valid contracts or not is legally questionable.


    In some countries it's perfectly legal to make a copy of something YOU OWN for PERSONAL use - not to be shared or redistributed. That's where my view is, but as I say if when you backup an Android app or game, only to realise that it requires an additional download from a server which may vanish anytime, there is a problem. :)
     
  15. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    Good point, I don't have any Palm software anymore, but I did get them from all over, kept them in an archive. Even used one game (LEDhead) under emulation for a while. Palm had gone belly up by then though. You should have that right. If you're re-distributing the stuff, then yes, it's going to be illegal and wrong. But to keep your own private collection of apps and games in whatever form they need to be in - in order to be stored, is in my view a moral right.

    The problem really is down to greed, companies wanting you to purchase the same 1s and 0s over and over in whatever format is the fad at the time, provided that they CHOOSE to make them available.

    Thinking about it, the same could be said for music and movies. I've lost track how many times I've bought the same core movies over and over. In a lifetime, you could have liked an album, bought it on vinyl, then 8-track, then audio cassette, then CD, then via iTunes and maybe again off Google Play. Or a movie, you bought it on Laserdisc, Betamax, VHS, CD-i, VCD, DVD, BlueRay, iTunes then maybe Google Play. Who benefits? Not us, we are being fleeced! :) It's why I only buy music and movies on physical media.
     
  16. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    Well, anyone should have the right to have their own library of content. If it wasn't for private library collections, much of the world's legacy could have been lost forever. After all, the Roman Empire was full of 'official' libraries, I don't think you will find much that survives until today if anything. When I was last in Ephesus, I did have a look around the Library ruins there, I couldn't find a single scroll! Or librarian!! Copying stuff and private collections, is how we still have some knowledge that would have vanished long ago otherwise.

    But back to Android.. LOL!
     
  17. Eugene

    Eugene Android Expert
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    Its not really any different for Android than anything else. I have bought pc software that support was dropped. I've seen companies spend lots of $ to get data extracted from an old system and imported into a new system because the old vendor went bankrupt.
    What I do is minimize my dependance upon apps. I look for free open source apps first. So rather then look for an exercise tracker app on my phone I just keep it all in a spreadsheet for example.
     
  18. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    Good point, I agree with that approach. But when you buy PC software, until recently you would have had the install media, even if the company went bust or ended support, you could still use the software you paid for.

    In 1995 (19 years ago) I bought a Star Wars game, it ran on DOS. I still like to play it - I bought it, it's my RIGHT to play it, I don't use DOS anymore and I never jumped on the Windows bandwagon. So I run it nowadays on DOSbox. This is the thing, with Android apps/games the way the app and assets are split and downloaded separately, we have a problem.

    In 19 years from now if I want to run my old favourite Android apps, they will probably not work as the assets will not be available, the company probably long gone and their servers with it. I have lost count how much money I've spent on apps, it's a substantial amount, between iOS and Android - for the household - probably more than I've spent on all PC software, including OS/2, DOS as well as Amiga and Atari before, I could probably include all the 8bit computer software too going back to 1979. It's a major rip off if you cannot even ensure you have a FULL copy of your own apps for the future.

    For sometime now I've been concerned about this and have effectively stopped buying Android apps. I buy them guaranteed DRM-free from Humble Bundle (although some require separate downloadable assets) and rely of free OSS software.

    Even more worrying is the blind rush to what are called cloud applications. These give the user ZERO control over how they use it, it's completely dependent on the server. Sure HTML5 apps can work offline with caching, but I see no way to install these things initially without the server and an internet connection. I really do not understand how people are expected to cope when they need to reinstall critical apps when there is no internet working or available, there are billions who have no access to the web - let alone a reliable connection. It's certainly not dependable where I live and I'm in the UK, not Antarctica. But these apps of the future will have nothing a user can download and keep and will be completely in the control of a third party, great for the likes of Google and the big companies, but as a strong advocate of free and open source software it's anathema to me. But that's a completely different subject I guess.

    I guess I will have to root my tablet one day, if I want to back everything up - assets and all. I shouldn't have to though.
     
  19. Eugene

    Eugene Android Expert
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    back when I did buy pcsoftware I bought plenty which I could no longer use later,an update or service pack would!d release which would cause the software to not function. at one time I had tow different copies of Microsoft money on two different OS's because the old version would no longer function on new machines and the new version would not read the old versions data.
    I have old Microsoft vision drawings that can no longer be opened, even adobe pdf's that are old enough to have problems in current readers due to adobe changing their format a little bit.
    That's one of the reasons I don't buy software any more and use open source.
     
  20. itsallgood

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    I use an app called "App Backup & Restore" to back up the apk. files of apps. (From what I've noticed, some apps leave the additional files stored on device in the android folder.) What I do is back up the additional files within the android folder to my PC. (But this is not guaranteed to work with every app with additional files.)
     
  21. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    Here we have the problem of trying to read obsolete proprietary formats that your data might be stored in.

    BTW anyone tried to get their data from an Iomega Zip disk lately? - while on the other hand we can still read books that are hundreds of years old. :D
     
  22. Rukbat

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    Nice long argument but moot. Most backup programs create apk files, which are installation files for the apps/games they're backing up. No rooting required.

    If you want to back up the current state of a game, rooting is required, but to back up what you download isn't.

    You buy - or are given free - a single machine license for a program. As long as the backup is used to install the program to only one machine (your current phone, your new phone if the old one got damaged or sold with no software), it's legal.

    Ashton Tate kind of proved that the burden of proof is on the vendor. "Who is Ashton Tate?", you ask. Exactly.
     
  23. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    Not moot really since the points are valid, plus the conversation with mikedt has been very enjoyable. Also you are incorrect, backup programs may create an apk, nobody has said otherwise. But not all apps/games CAN be backed up. Some are prevented from being able to be backed up, I can give you examples if you wish. The only solution would be to root your device if a method is available for your device.


    But that is not the point, it's about preserving what you've paid for when inevitably, certain online services are withdrawn and you are no longer able to download that item. Also what you haven't addressed is that certain apps require separate downloads of assets, which will also become unavailable in time. Even if you manage to backup an apk it will not contain those assets. Rooting may allow backing up those assets after they have been downloaded but rooting simply is not an option for everyone.


    I know who Ashton Tate were, but fail to see the relevance. However it underlines my point that even now in 2014, I can setup an environment and run their software if I have the local installation files, even though the vendor is long gone. This is not possible on Android, when an app or game requires separately downloaded assets which will be gone in a few years from now.

    So no, far from moot, a relevant argument for anyone who has paid large sums of money for software that they rightly assume they will be able to use for many years to come.
     
  24. !on

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    It is an issue. I say avoid paid apps (sorry devs!) if at all possible. Then save your apk's to storage. I only have a four paid apps, I had seven but three were deleted as I got bored with them, or found something better. Free doesn't necessarily mean inferior; there are some good souls out there who do things 'open source', although sometimes I think some should be paid for their work. Conversely, I've seen apps charging for silly things which should be free.

    My opinion is an app has to be really good before I'll pay for it. The free apps, well as long as I have the apk I'm happy. Sure it's a pain setting them up again but I gotten used to reconfiguring things quicker since playing with different roms.
     
  25. efjaydee

    efjaydee Newbie
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    Love your avatar pic. That was a great, but surreal episode!
     

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