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Android developers can now block rooted devices, Netflix bites
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-05-18 21:46:03

Over the weekend, it was discovered that the Android Netflix application could no longer be installed on rooted Android devices - in fact, it vanished from the Play Store on rooted devices completely. Netflix then confirmed it started blocking rooted devices from installing the Netflix application.

Well, it turns out we'll only be going downhill from here, as Google explained at I/O that from now on, developers will be able to block their applications from being installed on rooted Android devices.

Developers will be able to choose from 3 states shown in the top image: not excluding devices based on SafetyNet, excluding those that don't pass integrity, or excluding the latter plus those that aren't certified by Google. That means any dev could potentially block their apps from showing and being directly installable in the Play Store on devices that are rooted and/or running a custom ROM, as well as on emulators and uncertified devices (think Meizu and its not-so-legal way of getting Play Services and the Play Store on its phones). This is exactly what many of you were afraid would happen after the Play Store app started surfacing a Device certification status.

This is bad news for the custom ROM community. If I can no longer install Netflix (and possibly more applications) on custom ROMs, there's no way I'll be using custom ROMs on my devices. For now, this is a Play function and we can still sideload the applications in question, but with Google Play Services installed on virtually every Android device, one has to wonder - and worry - how long it'll be before such checks happen on-device instead of in-Play.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-30 -- 31-37
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Nice...
By Kancept on 2017-05-19 16:07:20
So, first they block me making payments with my Nexus 4, now my main apps won't be able to install. They stopped updating for the Nexus 4 long ago, and ROMs were the only way for me to keep up on it short of buying a new phone. Even with me using AOSP, the payment stuff doesn't work, and it counts as a custom ROM.

Good thing my iPhone 5S is still getting supported updates...
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Comment by tidux
By tidux on 2017-05-19 17:04:28
Funny, it's making me decide that Netflix isn't worth my money anymore. Back to piracy I go.
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RE: Comment by tidux
By kurkosdr on 2017-05-19 19:40:20
> Funny, it's making me decide that Netflix isn't worth my money anymore. Back to piracy I go.

I don't need draconian DRM to be convinced to pirate movies. The money I save every month and the trouble I save from not having to hunt for content in half dozen streaming services is enough for me (pirates have only two sources to deal with, Exodus and Real-Movies).

But you see, there are people who value a little more convenience more than not having to deal with DRM, saving money and not being extorted into buying the same content over and over. So open OSes will never have a fair fighting chance, no matter what you and me do.

Edited 2017-05-19 19:40 UTC
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Just one more view:
By dionicio on 2017-05-19 20:41:32
Open Code will always be there. As a commonality. A shared framing. A linking language.

Hardly as a popular tool. Lacks the power behind it.

Not trying to offend, but suspecting even RedHat would consider alternative monetizing models, if as big as Apple or Microsoft.

RedHat at much higher moral grounds, on working over open code -But also suspecting because result a lot cheaper to the way Institutional and Big Business work.
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RE[5]: Google embracing the dark side.
By leech on 2017-05-19 21:27:00
I went with Samsung's phones because of their better overall hardware, and they support SD cards, which none of the damn Nexus/Pixel devices do.

And the only reason I root my devices is so that I can avoid advertisements. This doesn't even prevent apk piracy, and since when does a rooted phone automatically mean you're stealing shows off of netflix? None of this makes sense to me. I'll admit though, maybe there IS a way to capture streams from Netflix that requires a rooted device? I've never heard of one though...
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RE: Just one more view:
By leech on 2017-05-19 21:36:07
Funny thing is, Netflix finally works under Firefox for Linux instead of blocking it based on it's User Agent...

Really if they're going to break this much functionality, maybe I should invest in a Sailfish phone..
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RE[6]: Google embracing the dark side.
By ssokolow on 2017-05-20 00:34:57
> And the only reason I root my devices is so that I can avoid advertisements.

There's your second reason for Google wanting to disincentivize rooting.
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Don't worry.. give the crackers a moment and F5 TPB
By uridium on 2017-05-20 03:01:40
Don't worry Thom. This is like the 80's when software companies started putting disk protection on. Some inventive little cracker is going to disassemble the thing, find the check, issue a mighty JMP instruction, package up into a 1337 version of the APK and everyone will be trading with it on the dark web. :(

Sad.. but, you watch. It'll happen.
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RE: Don't worry.. give the crackers a moment and F5 TPB
By Alfman on 2017-05-20 04:35:42
uridium,

> Don't worry Thom. This is like the 80's when software companies started putting disk protection on. Some inventive little cracker is going to disassemble the thing, find the check, issue a mighty JMP instruction, package up into a 1337 version of the APK and everyone will be trading with it on the dark web. ;)

Sad.. but, you watch. It'll happen.



You are right, software based DRM is inherently flawed from a security point of view. A google employee posted a discussed of this in 2013:
https://plus.google.com/+IanHicks...


However the damage goes further than just DRM. Even if it's cracked, a significant portion of users will give up their phone customizations when the barriers get too difficult.

My rooted blu life phone running stock android is triggering google's tilt bits and certain apps are missing from the store even when I search for them. I tried the "Magisk" root manager, mentioned by others already, but it's not working on my phone. I'm currently stuck with reduced functionality because google elected to side with media companies to punish owners of modified phones rather than defending owner's rights to modify their own phones. I wonder if google is getting something in return for throwing modified phone users under the bus or if this is something they are doing of their own volition.
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RE[2]: Don't worry.. give the crackers a moment and F5 TPB
By uridium on 2017-05-20 08:56:55
>
However the damage goes further than just DRM. Even if it's cracked, a significant portion of users will give up their phone customizations when the barriers get too difficult.

My rooted blu life phone running stock android is triggering google's tilt bits and certain apps are missing from the store even when I search for them. I tried the "Magisk" root manager, mentioned by others already, but it's not working on my phone. I'm currently stuck with reduced functionality because google elected to side with media companies to punish owners of modified phones rather than defending owner's rights to modify their own phones. I wonder if google is getting something in return for throwing modified phone users under the bus or if this is something they are doing of their own volition.


Yeah, I was serious but there was a generous degree of tongue in cheek. Your unfortunately spot on with your "once it becomes too hard.." comment and I'm sorry to hear about what's happening with your phone. That's rubbish. :( My only android device is an antique galaxy note 10.1. The experience turned me off Samsung and soured my opinion of droid thus far.

Reminds me of the days of OpenDarwin and when you could compile up to mid-way through the 10.2 era your own kernel and user-land then CCC or ditto the proprietary bits over to have your own distro. Once it became too hard and too many missing parts.. people gave up. I was one.

Perhaps there needs to be a different approach. See.. DEC and Microsoft did a couple of interesting things with a couple of their propriety systems by giving access to enthusiasts to their systems in a controlled and legit way. I noticed with both instances that giving enthusiasts a positive direction to focus their energies on. DEC (and continued by HP) did it with VMS and the hobbyist license where they would for an annual re-issue (free) give you a set of license codes for everything in the SPL (software product lib) .. everything. All compilers.

Microsoft did it when people were trying to run homebrew on the Xbox360 and PS3 ..MS released the XNA platform which let people develop and share software that ran on the console with access to all the consoles features. I firmly feel that this dramatically reduced the cracking efforts for the platform and indeed I recall it was around 2-3 years after the PS3 was cracked that the 360 was quietly cracked and then mostly for pirated software.

Perhaps there needs to be a sandbox so people can pull the O/S and apps apart .. in a sensible and controlled fashion?

Food for thought hopefully,
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