An app called DroidAdmin had been gaining in popularity recently on the Fire TV and other Android-based devices. The app’s intended purpose is a bulk downloader which lets you download multiple files to your Android device at once. While that sounds innocent enough, it has recently surged in popularity among the piracy community as a way to sideload pirated apps and apps that are not allowed in the Amazon Appstore or the Google Play Store. As a result, Google recently banned the app from the Google Play Store and Amazon just followed suit by banning it from the Amazon Appstore.
The core functionality of DroidAdmin is innocent enough. You create an account on the app’s website and then create a list of URLs that include files that you want to download onto your Android device. An example use case that DroidAdmin gives is creating a list of images online that you want to download to your device at once to use as wallpapers. Once your list has been created, DroidAdmin’s website provides you with a numeric code that you enter into the app in order to easily download the list of files without needing to type each URL on your device.
The piracy community recently latched onto DroidAdmin as a means of easily sharing pirated APKs and banned APKs that facilitates piracy. These APK downloads are normally scattered across the web because they are not allowed in either the Google Play Store or the Amazon Appstore. DroidAdmin provided a means of gathering them in one place that was easily shared. Within the last few months, codes to massive DroidAdmin lists containing all sorts of pirated apps, piracy tools, and piracy add-ons began emerging and being shared across websites, forums, and YouTube videos. This use of DroidADmin is ultimately what likely lead to its removal from Google and Amazon’s app stores.
In my opinion, the issue with DroidAdmin, and the likely reason why it was banned from both app stores, is that it crossed the line from being just a downloading utility to essentially being an app store. Google, Amazon, and Apple all strictly do not allow apps in their stores to act as app stores. While DroidAdmin was probably not intended by its developers to be an appstore, that is essentially what it had become and how it was being used. By simply entering a short string of digits into DroidAdmin, a user would be presented with a massive list of apps to select from, of which many were themselves banned from the major apps stores, that could be installed with a single click.
The banning of DroidAdmin should not be considered an attack on sideloading, but rather, an attack on 3rd-party app stores and piracy. My own Downloader app provides very similar functionality to DroidAdmin at its core. However, the big difference, and why I think my app remains in both the Amazon Appstore and the Google Play Store, is that my app does not guide the user towards a particular download, nor does it provide a way to view a list of suggested downloads.