Should an APK downloader increase an app’s install counter?

Most people probably think that Google Play determines app popularity by how often the APK file gets requested (one download = one installation). Intuitive, but wrong:

  • Connection loss may result in an incomplete download.
  • The user may change his mind and cancels installation half way through.
  • The app cannot be installed because there’s no space left on the device or because it crashes during installation.

For keeping track of when apps actually get installed (and uninstalled!), Google added an extra little piece of spyware that reports these events back to Play. The interesting question is whether or not I should mimic that behaviour in the Raccoon apk downloader?

PRO:

  • An account that only ever downloads APKs without reporting back installs is kinda suspicious. This hasn’t been a problem in the past.
  • It is somewhat unfair to developers to use their app, but not +1 the install counter (after all, that’s what factors into the app ranking).
  • Implementing the market feedback agent would allow for rating and reviewing apps.

CONTRA:

  • The Play developer TOS explicitly forbid stats manipulation. Not implementing this properly might raise some red flags.
  • Some (desperate) developers might will try to use Raccoon for cheating the system.
  • Leaving Google in the dark is kinda the selling point of APK downloaders.

I really can’t decide whether or not adding market feedback is a sensible thing to do or a complete waste of time.

Posted in Android, Coding