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Support Android Phone in China - how can I get apps?

Discussion in 'Android Help' started by Atom C, Jun 10, 2016.

  1. Atom C

    Atom C Newbie
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    For my sins, I live and work in China. I am very far from being savvy about phones, as you can probably tell from the following. I don't even like mobile phones much, especially smartphones, as they seem to need so much attention and care, and I seem to be wasting so much time and money because of them.

    Anyway, here is my story, I will try to keep it brief, although I am sure some of it will perplex many of you.

    About a year ago I bought a Samsung Galaxy A8, running Android. (My previous phone had been an iPhone 4 given to me as a gift. I had it for about 5 years. I didn't do much with it except use it as a phone. I always found the business of putting music on it with iTunes to be such a pain in the ass, that I swore when I replaced it I would switch to Android, so when it died, that's what I did.)

    When I bought my Samsung A8, believe it or not, I didn't know anything about the Google Play Store, how it is unavailable in China, etc. I had absolutely no idea that I would be unable to use many apps which required Google Play Services to run, etc, (for example I thought that I would be able to use the Gmail app as long as I was using an Android VPN, but of course no, it won't even run without Google Play Services.)

    Someone told me that I should root the phone, and then install the Google PLay Store, I found rather inadequate instructions on the web as to how to do this. I wasted many hours trying to do so, without success, in the end I gave up.

    A few weeks ago someone suggested I try something called 1 Mobile Market, they said it was a great way to get apps without needing the Google Store. I tried it out, one of the apps I downloaded was a kids math game, like a video game but teaching kids how to do math at the same time. My 7-year-old son absolutely loved it, was disappointed when he ran into the locked levels. I didn't realise it was just a demo for a paid version, there didn't seem to be any way to get the paid version. I looked absolutely everywhere on the web, trying to find a way to pay for and download the full version, without any success.

    I went back to trying to root the phone so I could install Google Store and use that. I tried a software called Kingoroot to try and root the phone. It worked, (seemingly,) except that when I tried to restart the phone it wouldn't start, I tired and tried and then it died. "Bricked", I guess. Effin' wonderful.

    I'm a sucker for punishment, so I went out and bought a new phone, a Samsung Galaxy A9, (I absolutely cannot be without a phone for however long it would take to get the A8 fixed, so I just decided to cut my losses and never try rooting again.)

    My son is still asking and asking me to get him the math game again, and I think I have come to the end of every dead end to try. I have written to the company, no reply. I have tried to buy the game from Amazon, they absolutely will not let me have it because of my geographical location, (even trying to fool them by routing through a UK based VPN and changing my billing address to the UK did not work, because my Mastercard is drawn on a Chinese bank.)

    Can anyone PLEASE give me some workable solutions to try? Is there any way anyone could share this app with me? Believe me all I am trying to do is make my kid happy here, not break any laws or rattle anyone's cage, I long ago gave up on trying to have the phone and the services I want, as a foreigner in China you're just not allowed that apparently.

    And please don't tell me to try the many Chinese app stores, or get help from a Chinese friend to do so. All those have zero English service and are utterly confusing unless you are fluent in Chinese, which I am not. I am just looking for a way to install a kids learning game on my phone for pity's sake, I am crying out for help here, can anyone offer it?
     

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  2. scary alien

    scary alien not really so scary
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    space alien ;)
    Indy
    Welcome to our AndroidForums, @Atom C.

    Lemme ping someone that has some experience in China (@mikedt).

    Cheers!
     
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  3. Atom C

    Atom C Newbie
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    Thanks so much scary, I'm glad you don't live up to your name. :)
     
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  4. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    Hello and ni hao!, welcome to the Middle Country @Atom C ! :thumbsupdroid: Thanks to @scary alien for the ping

    Rooting might not be such a good idea, unless you know what you're doing, and/or have some really good. clear and accurate instructions.


    Well 1Mobile Market is actually Chinese, and like many Chinese app stores are not usually recommended here on AF, because of rampant piracy and possible malware. Because of Google's absence from Android in the PRC, it really can be a wild west.


    You're from the UK right, like me. Do you have any UK credit or debit cards at all, even a pre-paid one like Travelex? If so you can make a UK Amazon account, which will work in China no problem.

    Well the only legal way is to buy it from Play, which isn't really an option, or Amazon possibly, or even sending an email to the app's developer, tell him your situation and maybe he'll sell you a copy directly, via Paypal or something. We have to be legal here, Android Forum rules. So can't really suggest anything else that might be illegal.


    Yeh, we're not in Kansas any more, Toto. :D

    Wish I could tell you something different, but frankly the how it is in China! I've been here for nearly 8 years now and learned Chinese, and still are learning. Last month I bought a DLP mini-projector, runs Android, but it only has Chinese, no English. Trivia: More people speak Mandarin than English in the world, most of them in China of course.

    By coincidence a fellow teacher who has only been here a few months came to me this evening, asking me how the hell do I find English on a new Samsung Galaxy J7, he'd just bought from China Unicom. :thumbsupdroid: ...and the staff at the Unicom store couldn't help him. Because I'm the geek around here and many people know it, Android Questions is not just online, it's real, face-to-face.

    The Karate Kid (2010), my favourite quote.
    Know any Chinese?
    NO!
    This is China, might not be a bad idea.
     
    #4 mikedt, Jun 11, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
  5. Bg260

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    Sounds like it's tough living overseas!
     
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  6. Mikestony

    Mikestony ~30% Carbon Black ±
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    Next to you
    Stick around for a while, you'll change your tune :p

    Welcome to AF!!!
     
  7. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    china_coat_of_arms_posters-r24c771ff3a5e4473a5a36454b3e16293_6va_8byvr_512.jpg
    For me, it's the best thing I've ever done. :)


    There's websites intended to help you.
    Two of my favourites.
    https://www.lostlaowai.com/ "Laowai" means foreigner. Don't be a "Bad Laowai". :thumbsupdroid: Chinese jails are NOT good!

    http://www.shanghaiexpat.com/ Shanghai Expat is very useful as well.

    There's some basic, but very useful Chinese with China Central TV(CCTV) intended for English speakers.
    http://english.cntv.cn/program/learnchinese/growingwithchinese/
     
    #7 mikedt, Jun 11, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
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  8. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    wewantyou.jpg

    ...but you must be prepared for it!
     
  9. Bg260

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    I hope the OP has a sense of humor.
     
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  10. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

    When in Beijing....
     
  11. Bg260

    Bg260  
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    Build a wall?

    ie;"Hadrians" and "The Great"
     
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  12. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    Yeh, expat gated communities! :thumbsupdroid: ...those are often surrounded by a rather high wall, barbed or razor wire, electric fences, etc. But at the same time you might have a swimming pool, golf driving range, chauffeured Merc, Audi or BMW to work, etc.

    "Oh look, I can get CNN and BBC on the TV!" ...until you have to go outside and deal with the real world around you.

    I've seen tourists reduced to tears just because they cant access Facebook!! o_O That was in a Beijing hostel.
     
    #12 mikedt, Jun 11, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
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  13. svim

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    I'm going to tentatively suggest you take at look at the Fossdroid site:
    https://fossdroid.com/
    It's a collection of free, Open Source only projects. I feel it's a valid and trustworthy site, at least as far as any non-Google Play site can be trusted. (Note all the apps listed on Fossdroid also have links to their source code so everything can be vetted and audited to be 'clean'.) The selection isn't even close to being as extensive as what's on Google Play and there isn't a very big selection of educational games. Also, you'll have to go into your phone's Settings >> Security and checkmark the 'Unknown sources' box to manually install the apk's, which is typically a risky thing to do but as you're in a location that's not readily accessible to Google Play that doesn't leave you with a lot of alternatives. Just keep in mind to always be very, very judicious and selective about you install.
     
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  14. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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  15. Bg260

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    F-droid is one of my favorites, the GUI is a bit more technical than the others, but it is very trustworthy.
     
  16. Atom C

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    Thanks to everyone who has responded. it's most appreciated. And for your welcomes of course, you're clearly a nice bunch of guys, and that is cool!

    Sadly though none of you have been able to give me the help I need.

    I don't have any kind of UK credit or debit card, I guess I could look into getting the pre-paid one you mention (Travelex?), but as I don't have a UK address or bank account, I have a feeling that would be another seemingly insoluble problem on top of the pile.

    With respect, I didn't come here to be told to learn Chinese, or when in Rome etc. I hear that with boring regularity from certain types of Chinese people. FWIW, I have been in China for 10 years, and was mad keen on learning Chinese for the first 5 or 6 of them. I have lost interest these last few years for various reasons I won't go into here, but which surely anyone might be able to imagine. My Chinese is plenty good enough for 75% of the stuff we have to do in real life, (e.g. shopping, dealing with daily interactions, travelling,) I have simply lost the desire to be super-fluent, and I certainly have no intention of studying Chinese characters for hundreds of hours just so I can understand every single part of Chinese websites relating to Android apps. (Again FWIW I have actually checked out most of the 'recommended' sites for getting Android apps in China. Most of them only seem to offer the free, limited version of the game/app I am looking for. The only one offering a paid version offers an older version than the one on Google PLay and Amazon, and I cannot figure out how to pay for it, that's where my Chinese ability stops.)

    Thanks to those mentioning the Fossdroid thing, that looks like an interesting site, but again in this case of no use.

    I guess what I really need here, or maybe was hoping for, is someone to reach out and offer me actual help in getting this thing. Is that too much to ask for? If so I apologize, I really do, like I said I'm not into rattling any cages, I just came looking for help and understanding. Peace and love to all, (I'm just an old hippy at heart I guess, lol.) :)

    PS I have btw written to the company that makes the app/game I am trying to get, explaining all of the above and offering to pay for their help in providing a download link I can use or some such, but they have not responded to me in any way. It's a very frustrating and actually absurd situation in my opinion. When a person buys an expensive toy like a smartphone, IMO they should be allowed to purchase apps etc for that device, they should be supported by companies that produce them. One reason I more and more detest smartphones is because of all this time-wasting nonsense.
     
    #16 Atom C, Jun 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016
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  17. Bg260

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    It is regret that I cannot help. What you need is Data. What is Data? To most it is invisible. It is in the air all around us. How could something like that be impossible to aquire? Especially when we are ready to pay. Because somewhere along our journey, someone or something decided that their air was better? Someone or something said "you're not allowed to breathe their air you can only breathe ours"? Unfortunately we can not stop breathing "just to show them". What are we to do? I hope you find a solution for both you and your boy.
     
    #17 Bg260, Jun 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016
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  18. Bg260

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    However, that being said. Here's a little light reading for you:

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1874285

    They are not quite as friendly or courteous there. You are better off just reading as much as you can. If your solution isn't in that thread, keep looking around.
     
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  19. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    Yeh, pre-paid Mastercard, doesn't need a bank account. I've got three of them in my wallet. I use my father's UK address for anything that needs it, visa applications, etc. Every time I go back to the UK, seem to pick another one up at Heathrow. It's basically what's replaced traveller's cheques. And can use for anything that takes Mastercard, including Amazon online. Know anyone in the UK could get one, put some money on it and post it to you? When is the next time you're visiting the UK? It's not an insoluble problem IMO. :thumbsupdroid:
    travelex.jpg

    If you're in or near somewhere like Shenzhen, Zhuhai, etc. you can get pre-paid debit cards in Hong Kong as well, and use Amazon Hong Kong, provided the particular app is available there.

    We don't even know what the app is, what's it's name? Have you actually tried to contact the developer or publisher, see if he can sell you it directly? If it's a paid app, we can't help getting you it any other way, because of copyright infringement, Android Forum rules. Also as AF is a United States site, and so comes under the DMCA etc. We don't want it being shut-down or seized by the feds for anything illegal.

    Peace and love brother! :) PM me if you want. Are you on Wechat or QQ? I'm in Jinan, Shandong.
     
    #19 mikedt, Jun 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016
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  20. Bg260

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  21. Atom C

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    Thanks for your wise words, and the link. As I said above, I tried endlessly to root my previous phone, ended up bricking it with Kingoroot. Kinda gone off rooting now.
     
  22. Atom C

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    <moderator redacted quoted post that was deleted due to piracy>

    Now that is seriously helpful. In fact, I think you have solved my problem, as I have found exactly what I was looking for. Many thanks to you, massive respect!
     
    #22 Atom C, Jun 12, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2016
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  23. Atom C

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    I use Astrill VPN on my Android device, it used to be the bomb, but it doesn't cut the mustard as it once did with all the recent upgrades to the Great Fire Wall and China's apparent determination to ever more repressive and controlling. In any case it makes no difference to Google Play... unless the phone is rooted (successfully) there is almost no way to install it on an Android phone bought in China.
     
  24. Atom C

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    :) I'm in Guangzhou, moving to Shenzhen to start a new job in August. Actually I've learned some interesting and potentially very useful things from you, so many thanks! I'd really never heard about those pre-paid cards, but then I let a lot get by me in my old age. Just kidding... I'm really eternally young like that Highlander dude! ;-)

    I didn't wanna say what the app was... but thanks be to all the gods, I have it now thanks to Extrinsic's suggestion. My kid is over the moon!

    Thanks so very much to you and everyone for your help, you all rock. :)
     
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  25. Bg260

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    #25 Bg260, Jun 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016

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