Divide By Zero

Rants, Gadgetry & Boring Ole Philosophy

How To Get Amazon’s Free Android Apps From Outside The US

Written By: Tyler Style - Jun• 19•11

The Amazon.com AppStore is great – the daily free apps to promote the store are a good marketing touch.  However, Amazon’s AppStore has a serious drawback: you can’t use the native Android app to install apps directly if you’re not physically located within the United States.  If you try, you get the message “The Amazon Appstore for Android is not yet available in your region.”  Well, my phone is a US phone, with a global plan from Verizon.  Just because I am using my phone in Canada or Mexico doesn’t mean that I’m not a US customer!  This is a serious oversight by Amazon.  Fortunately, I have a work around that will work for anyone who has a US Amazon.com account regardless of what country you’re in!

All you need do is install the Amazon.com app on your phone from Amazon’s website and then open the app on your mobile and log in using your Amazon.com account.  Of course, you won’t be able to install apps from it; after the first time you try, you’ll get the “not yet available in your region” message and all apps will disappear from the AppStore.  However, you can use your browser either on your phone or your personal computer to go to Amazon’s AppStore website, find an app (such as the free app of the day, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more say no more!), and then choose to remotely install the app to your phone.  You’ll then need to open the Amazon AppStore app on your cell where you’ll magically find the app now listed to finish the install.  Voila!  You are now the proud owner of an Amazon Appstore installed app, despite being physically outside the USA.

It’s nice to see a big retailer recognizing the viability of the Android platform and supporting it, especially since Google’s native App Market Place has sucked so badly for so long (though it’s thankfully somewhat better now than it was when originally launched).  Amazon’s a bit late to the game – AppBrain‘s market is even better – but it’s the first big retail name to support Android, with all the consumer confidence and slick marketing that that entails.  So I really don’t understand why Amazon has this badly thought out limitation in the app in the first place. (if you have any idea why, let me know in the comments!)  It should really be checking your Amazon.com account information to determine if you’re a US customer, not your phone’s IP address or other geolocation information.  Or at the very least it should check your account information first and your geolocation information second, and then only if it can’t get your location information from your Amazon account.  Ridiculously shortsighted of Amazon’s programmers not to take into account those customers who are snowbirds or global travelers.  However, since you can still hack the app’s location limitation using the App Store web interface, it’s not as bad as it could be.  Hopefully Amazon will correct this oversight in the future!

UPDATE: Using a bogus Amazon.com account to access the Amazon AppStore

For those outside the US and without a valid US Amazon.com account wanting to get the free App of the Day or other free apps, you can access them by registering for an Amazon account using bogus US address information.  Caveat: this method violates Amazon’s terms of service, and is grounds for having your account suspended.

  • Register for a new email address or use a disposable account.  (do not use an email address already tied to a valid Amazon account, or that you plan to use for any other reason)
  • Register for an Amazon account using the new email address.
  • Set up your account as if you are in the US.  (you can use bogusly generated profile information from FakeName Generator)
  • Install the Amazon AppStore either from Amazon or from a thirdy party apk.  (if you open the third party link from your phone and you have third party sources enabled, it should just ask you if you want to install it; otherwise you can save it on your computer and later move it onto your SD card and install it using a file manager like Astro)
  • Open the Amazon AppStore app, browse & install the free daily app from it.  (if you can – I can’t using my legit US Amazon account while I’m physically in Canada, hence this post)
  • If you want to purchase apps, you can use an USUnlocked account as a proxy for your credit card.