Android Jelly Bean App Encryption Bug Frustrates Developers
One of the many new Android features Google announced when it revealed Jelly Bean to the world was a new encryption system, aimed at helping reduce the prevalence of Android app piracy. The new DRM would encrypt purchased apps as they were delivered from the Play Store, rendering them only usable on that particular device. While that sounded like great news for developers, it turns out that the system has been riddled by bugs, causing some apps to stop functioning altogether.
The crux of the issue seems to be that the Android AccountManager runs on phone boot-up before secure storage is properly mounted. When AccountManager can’t find the apps it’s looking for, it deletes the associated account info, rendering them unusable.
Google’s aware of the problem, but some developers aren’t happy with the response it’s taken. The company’s been less than forthcoming in discussing the bug, which is marked to be fixed in a future Android release. For the moment, Google seems to be sidestepping the unwanted behavior by having the Play store now deliver traditional unencrypted apps, which can be installed to the standard apps directory instead of secure storage. That might stop apps from breaking, but it appears to entirely defeat the point of the new Jelly Bean protections.