I occasionally get mail from Android App developers asking me, if and how they can use Raccoon to boost their app’s install counter on the Playstore.
The answer to that question is a bit more complex.
The first thing to understand is that a download is something entirely different from an install! The user may download an app, but have a change of heart about installing it after reviewing the permission screen. An installation may fail due to the device being out of storage space. In rare cases, the battery might even give up (or the device may crash) during installation. And of course, there are countless network related issues that can result in an incomplete or broken APK. Counting a download as an installation would therefore be futile.
In a nutshell, an app installation works like this:
- The user opens the Play Store client and decides to install an app.
- The Play client app then downloads all required installation files (usually just an APK, occasionally also an OBB).
- If the download completes, the Play Client hands the installation over to the package manager.
- The packagemanager takes care of unpacking the APK and registering the App in the system.
- If the app gets installed properly, the packagemanager sends a system broadcast.
- The Play client listens for that broadcast and sends a message to the Playstore about the successful installation
Unlike the Play App, Raccoon does not send any “mission accomplished” messages to Play, so it cannot be used for cheating. There are also no plans for implementing this functionality. If you are thinking about submitting a feature request for it, think twice: stat manipulation is a TOS violation and Google might get a wee bit suspicious if your app gets downloaded a couple thousand times from the same IP address/network.