Download Android Apps directly to your PC for sideloading

Update No2: The developer, after pulling the plugin yesterday, made it available again with a modification that  prevents you from downloading paid apps with the plugin. Although this might prevent you from downloading apps which you paid for, I believe it is an excellent remedy for a valid concern. And remember, you can always extract any apps you've purchased from your Android phone (although please check the developer's terms of use before you load it on your Playbook to make sure it's ok for you to do so).

This morning I saw an article over on Android Central that I thought might be useful for Playbook owners who want to be able to get Android .apks for conversion and sideloading onto their BlackBerry Playbook.

*Note - to the best of my understanding you'll need an Android device with access to the Android Market to get everything set up - I used my NookColor and it worked like a charm. If anyone finds a way around this requirement, post in the comments!

As you probably know, the official Playbook OS2 blocked Dingleberry, and along with the loss of root access came the loss of the Android Market. Let's face it, most of the Android apps in the BlackBerry App World suck, and a lot of the most wanted apps (kindle, Dropbox, Google Maps, etc) aren't there. A lot of Playbook owners know how to convert an .apk into a .bar (and the process is made even easier by using the BBH Tool or by using RIM's web interface), but getting the .apk can be a little difficult - cue APK Downloader :)

APK Downloader is a Chrome Extension that allows you to directly download Android Apps from the Android Market onto your PC. The original writeup and info can be found at http://codekiem.com/2012/02/24/apk-downloader/, which is the official blog for redphx (the developer of the plugin and several android apps). He gives a pretty good writeup, but I'll summarize the steps to get APK Downloader working.

Note that any harm that comes to your PC, personal info, or other possessions due to reliance on this is not the fault of OpenSourceBB (standard disclaimer ;))

0. Make sure you have Google Chrome 17 installed on your PC.

1. Download/Install the plugin directly from redphx's blog. A new tab will open, and should have a notification at the top about needing to disable SSL error warnings. If a new tab doesn't open, right click on the APK Downloader icon in the address bar and select "Options."

2. You have to set Chrome to ignore SSL error warnings. This is done by right-clicking the chrome shortcut icon, and adding " --ignore-certificate-errors" (with a space before the --, without the quotes) to the target under the shortcut field. It will look something like: "C:\…\chrome.exe" --ignore-certificate-errors

3. Close and reopen Chrome.

4. The tab opened by APK Downloader should no longer have the message about disabling SSL error warnings. You'll need to enter your Android Market email, password, and device ID. I'll admit, I was a little nervous about entering my email and password in here. However, redphx posted the source code for APK Downloader, and you can review it if you're concerned about your information being stolen.

5. You probably don't know your Device ID, but you can get it using this app: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.redphx.deviceid. I converted it to a .bar, but it wouldn't run on my Playbook so it looks like you'll need an actual Android device.

6. After logging in, you can navigate to any Android Market App page, and click the APK Downloader icon in the Address bar to download the .apk to your desktop!

Once you've got the .apk, all you have to do is convert it to a .bar and sideload it onto your Playbook!

Shane Cridlebaugh

Co-founder and legal nay-sayer of OSBB. Owner of SCrApps Application Development, WebWorks aficionado, Open Source contributor. SCrid2000 on most blogs. I build awesome BlackBerry apps when I'm not doing legal work or spending time with my wife and two boys.


Follow me on Twitter - @GShaneC

Check out my apps in BlackBerry World

Website: SCrApps.org

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