[Android] Get paid/premium apps for free (legally) from Amazon Appstore and GetJar

You made the (wise) choice of getting a ‘droid and have been roaming dotTech’s Best Free Android Apps repository to sustain your appetite for free apps. However, as fun as free apps are, wouldn’t it be even better if you could (legally) grab paid apps for free (even if the paid apps may not be any more useful than their free counterparts)? Yeah, I thought so. One of your rewards for choosing Android is being able to – legally – grab paid apps… for $0. Read on if you are interested.

^ Image credit: Quinn.anya

Amazon Appstore Free App of the Day

Amazon may have started as a loss-making online bookstore but over the years it has expanded into many different industries. One of the Amazon’s latest ventures is launching an app store on Android, cleverly named Amazon Appstore.

To entice users to use Amazon Appstore, Amazon gives away a paid app for free every day. Each app is given away for 24-hours and you must grab it during this time frame. Once you get an app from Free App of the Day, it is like you own it: You can install/reinstall it whenever you want, you can install it on all Android devices you have connected to your Amazon account (you can install Amazon Appstore on multiple different devices, all connected to the same Amazon account), and you get free updates (updates available from Amazon Appstore — not Android Marketplace). Pretty cool, huh?

Before you start wetting your pants from the excitement, let me state not everyone is eligible to participate in Amazon Appstore’s Free App of the Day.

Firstly, you need an Amazon account. Duh.

Secondly, officially Amazon Appstore is only available in the USA. I say “officially” because I have been successful at installing Amazon Appstore on devices that are not in the USA but that may be because I attached the devices to my Amazon account which has a USA address attached to it. So if you are outside the USA, your mileage will vary; don’t get your hopes up.

Thirdly, you must have a valid credit card. Apps purchased through Amazon Appstore are processed using your Amazon account’s 1-click settings. (You will have to setup 1-click settings if you have not already.) Apps from Free App of the Day are processed just like you have purchased them, with the only difference being you don’t actually pay anything. So to get free apps from Free App of the Day you must have a valid credit card (and address); otherwise you won’t be able to setup 1-click settings and therefore won’t be able to get free apps. Interestingly enough, in the past I was able to enter a completely fake credit card and address and setup 1-click settings. (No, I wasn’t trying to commit fraud. I just didn’t trust a child with my credit card or my Amazon account.) Recently, though, I got an error when trying to repeat the whole fake-credit-card-and-address routine. So if you don’t have a real credit card, you could try entering a fake one for the purposes of getting free apps from Free App of the Day but your mileage will vary. (Note: I am not encouraging anyone to commit fraud. I am just telling you about my personal experience. You are the sole responsible party for your actions.)

Lastly, in order to install Amazon Appstore and to install apps from Amazon Appstore you need to enable sideloading on your device. What is sideloading? Sideloading is installing apps that are not from Android Market. On most devices you can enable sideloading by going to Settings -> Applications -> check Unknown sources:

Once you check the checkbox for Unknown sources you will get a warning message similar to the following:

This warning message is basically telling you to be careful what apps you sideload onto your device. The warning message looks important because it is important: Do not sideload any and all apps you find. (Especially don’t pirate apps.) Only sideload apps you get from trustworthy sources, like Amazon Appstore. In fact, I keep sideloading disabled on my phone until I specifically want to install an app from non-Market sources, like Amazon Appstore; and I suggest you do the same. (You can enable/disable sideloading as you please. Once you sideload an app, enabling/disabling sideloading won’t affect the installed app.) You are the sole responsible party for your actions. Don’t come whining here about how your device died after you sideloaded an app.

If you do not see an Unknown sources option under Applications, your device may not allow for sideloading. (Many AT&T devices do not, yet.) You can try to custom mod your phone to enable sideloading – such as how Locutus mentioned you can do with SuperOneClick; or you can suck on your thumb until sideloading is enabled on your device or until you grab a new device.

After you have enabled sideloading, all you have to do is download and install Amazon Appstore (use a file manager to install Amazon Appstore after you have downloaded it); login to your Amazon account; and get tapping:

Each day a new app will appear in the same spot you see Airport Mania 2: Wild Trips in the screenshot above. Tapping the orange FREE button will show you a green Get App button. Once you tap the green Get App button the app “purchase” will be processed after which the app will automatically be downloaded. Once the “purchase” process has completed, the app is attached to your Amazon account; so after it downloads you do not have to install it if you don’t want to: You can cancel the install and install it at a later date, if you wish. Installing at a later date is as easy as running Amazon Appstore on your device, pressing the Menu key, going to My Apps, finding the app you want to install, and downloading/installing it.

Personally speaking, I get all the apps available for free via Free App of the Day but I only install a handful of them. My philosophy is “might as well get it while it is free, but I don’t have to install it until I want or need it”. So far I have over 150 paid apps that I got for free via Free App of the Day but I have installed less than 10.

GetJar Gold

GetJar is a third-party app store that has been providing mobile app downloads since 2004. As the name may imply, it primarily focused on Java apps in the past but has since expanded to smartphone platforms of BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and – drum roll please – Android. (And you thought Apply invented the app store.)

Recently, just today actually, GetJar launched their GetJar Gold service. GetJar Gold is a service that allows Android users to download paid/premium apps for free. Unlike Amazon Appstore – which runs 24-hour app giveaways – GetJar Gold apps don’t have a specific time limit and there are multiple apps available at a time. Since there are no specific time limits, there is no specific time frame for when new apps are added: GetJar simply states new apps are added to GetJar Gold “every week”.

While the name may imply otherwise, GetJar Gold is a free service that does not require any registration. That means no credit card required; and it appears GetJar Gold is available globally, not just in the USA. (Note: GetJar does not officially state if GetJar Gold is available in the USA only or internationally, also. I claiming global support based on some investigative work; I have not personally tried GetJar Gold outside the USA. If you get GetJar Gold working outside the USA, please share with us in the comments below!)

While it may be a positive that you don’t need to register to use GetJar Gold, there is a downside to it. With Amazon Appstore, apps from Free App of the Day are owned by you; it is just like you purchase them. Since GetJar Gold is brand new I cannot confirm this, but I am 99% sure the apps from GetJar Gold are not “owned” by you. When I say “not ‘owned’ by you” I don’t mean you will have to stop using them at a certain date nor do I mean these apps are trials. (They are full versions.) What I mean is: Yes you can get the apps for free right now from GetJar Gold but you may not be able to re-download them or re-install them from GetJar Gold in the future if the apps are removed; and it doesn’t appear like you will get free updates like you do via Amazon Appstore. However, for what it is worth, GetJar states the apps in GetJar Gold will “remain on the store”. This presumably means you can download them at any time in the future and future downloads may be of updated versions. Hey, nothing in life is perfect, right?

That said, getting apps from GetJar Gold is as easy as look and tap. First;y, you need to download GetJar from Android Market. Secondly, make sure you have sideloading enabled — just like shown above for Amazon Appstore. Thirdly, run GetJar. Fourthly, browse to the GetJar Gold section:

Lastly, download away. Downloading apps from GetJar Gold is a two-click process: Click the Free button next to the app you want, then the Download button you see at the next page.

Conclusion and Download Links

Aren’t you glad you rolled Android? Not only can you get quality free apps, but you can now get paid apps for free. Who needs iPhone anyway? :-P

To get started with Amazon Appstore and GetJar, download them from the links below:

Amazon Appstore


Update: It appears that GetJar is no longer available from Android Market. (I don’t know why.) If you want GetJar, go to http://getjar.com on your phone, go to the “GetJar Gold” section, and try to download an app. You will be prompted to download and install the GetJar app apk. Once you download it, make sure you have sideloading enabled, and install it. Then you can use the GetJar app.

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