Android Market

Update: We're being told by one developer that actually this wording is unchanged, and the 15-minute window still applies, it's just that Google has that long to refund the money. We're seeking clarification from Google, and watching our hope wane.

Google caused a fairly big stink nearly a year ago when it changed the window to uninstall and refund a purchased application to just 15 minutes -- a far cry shorter than 24-hour window we'd previously enjoyed.

But according to a new version of the developer distribution agreement being pushed out today, that window has been expanded, and expanded to a full two days. Here's the line from Section 3.4:

Products that cannot be previewed by the buyer (such as applications): You authorize Google to give the buyer a full refund of the Product price if the buyer requests the refund within 48 hours after purchase.

Good on Google for changing this one. While we don't want anyone abusing the refunds process, 15 minutes was absolutely too short a time to try out an application.

By the way, if you're a developer, make sure you log in to your developer portal to accept the new agreement. Wouldn't want your app yanked unnecessarily.

Thanks, Joe and Nick!

 
There are 36 comments

gdbjr says:

Wow! 48 hours seems a little long. I think I might be annoyed if I was a developer as you could really abuse the system this way.

movielover76 says:

I buy all my apps, but the truth is the time frame really doesn't matter, if your going to steal an app your going to steal an app, you could do it in the 15 minutes timeframe just as easy as 24 or 48 hours.
I bet they realized that the changing the return window in no way affected the rate of piracy, they need to find better ways to secure their market.

fifarunnerr says:

The best way to secure your paid apps:
http://developer.android.com/guide/publishing/licensing.html

I'm using it on my own app, it's a lot harder to crack this one than normal. This service will allow the developer to specify when the app needs to ask Google whether the app is bought(though the Market) or not. Then it's up to the developer to do anything he likes.

If you want to bypass this, you need to decompile the code and fix it so it won't block the app.

Serus says:

I think with the 24 hour window people were buying games, playing them through in 12 hours or whatever and then returning them. I don't think it's a matter of pirating since as you said, just about anyone that knows how can pirate. The 24 hour window just made it easy to play a game all day during your flight or whatever, and then return it.

Tim Mensch says:

That "one developer" was right. It was in the agreement over a year and a half ago (verified by archive.org).

Here's a list of things that DID change in the new agreement: http://realmensch.org/blog/new-google-developer-agreement-kerfluffle

Dr.Jeckyl says:

While I'm happy for this change, I think 48hours is too long. 15minutes was a joke and 24 hours I think was perfect. We'll see how it goes though.

wicketr says:

I'd just be happy with 3 hours. Anything less than an hour is absurd.

Naris says:

Going all the way to 48 seems like it'll invite a lot of developer backlash. After all, wasn't the return window originally shrunk from 24 hours because too many games were being beaten and returned? Personally I wish they'd just give us maybe 4-6 hours of a return window. That'll allow even the largest apps that need some extra download time to be installed and tried out.

mitchellvii says:

Even an hour would be fine. 15 minutes was just silly and annoying. About 20 apps I thought looked worthwhile that I never tried due to that rule.

rawpower87 says:

15 minutes was way too little, 48 hours is way too much people are gonna take advantage of this. Sucks for devs.

Suntan says:

Awesome. I was just looking in the market for a couple of service apps that I kinda wanted to try out, but didn't bother because it would take longer than 15 minutes to fully figure out if they would work the way I want them to. Now I'm just waiting to get the new tryout.

Honestly though, 2 hours would have been fine.

-Suntan

moelsen says:

i kind of stopped trying apps i wasn't sure i wanted or not because of some bug on my bionic. i'd buy an app, it'd try to start downloading, fail (i guess), and then i'd be at the app's screen with the price box still there. at the same time, i'd get an email confirming the purchase. this wouldn't clear itself up and give me an install box until a while after the 15 minute window.

but yeah, 15 minutes was ridiculous, even for apps that immediately downloaded. and now that games are getting bigger, it's even moreso. but 48 hours? that's just ludicrous. an hour would have been perfect.. no one abusing, and no one getting gypped.

hmmm says:

Why overdo it to 48 hours? I agree 15 minutes is way too short and some things take longer than that to even get up and running over 3G. 24 hours was more than fair. A couple of hours is enough to evaluate an app in my opinion. 48 hours is long enough for a lot of people to play through an entire game. Maybe exclude games from this and it would be ok. Then again maybe having a free version of an app does exclude your paid apps from this since a customer would be able to preview them.

I'm really glad they increased it from the ridiculous 15 minute restriction, but I had thought even 24 hours was fine, if not a little long. Even 2 or 3 hours would be enough time to really 'test' an app. Even ones that collect some graphic historical data like battery/CPU graphers.

916ninja says:

+ 1 to the response of this thread. I think 6 hours would have been perfect for me though.

jayman350 says:

Good on Google to change the ridiculous 15 minute window. I would have been happy going back to 24hrs for refunds, 48 does seem like overkill.

Having the 15 minute window drastically reduced my inclination to buy an app that I was on the fence w/ purchasing. Now I am much more likely to buy an app that I may or may not like, because I will actually have some time to play around w/ it and not rush judgement of the app just to get in under the 15 minutes.

dcreed says:

So, according to the update, although you have to return it within 15 minutes, Google has up to 48 hours to refund the money.

I'm not sure how many apps are paid for and then returned, but I'm guessing it's a pretty significant amount. So now Google can earn interest for 48 hours on your money.

I think I've just stopped buying apps I may want to return. If there's no free one to try, I just won't try it.

JohnJSal says:

Is the wording quoted above (from Section 3.4) new, or has it always been phrased that way?

dswatson83 says:

Ideally the developer could set the time between 15min and 48hours. Some apps only take 15 to try. Others like launchers can take a couple hours to set up before you can even test it out to make sure your device can handle the app without lag or other issues. It definitely needs to be extended though not for all apps

acey_zero says:

As many pointed out when the 15 minute window was introduced, why not just let the developers choose the return period? Different apps need different amounts of time to evaluate.

916ninja says:

I see the poorly worded point. They will refund within 48 hours, after the purchase, if requested within the 15 minute window.

houseofadams says:

I just compared the current version with the version available in May (thanks to the WayBack Machine - archive.org) and this update is a simple language update to account for music and books being published on the Market. The refund language has not changed.

rohneas says:

I think the uninstall/refund window should be based on the price of the app.

For the $2 and $3 apps (I think this covers most games), it should be a few hours. As you get up to apps over $10 you should get up to 24 hours. That is presuming that a more expensive app would have to be tested more by the user to see if it does what it needs to do.

wraith404 says:

Interesting idea. Or, perhaps the developer should have to register the size of their secondary download, and the refund window is increased by a minute per megabyte. This way you also know what kind of download you're about to be hammered with before you buy.

kahil says:

Ummm... 48 hours? That is way too long. As a dev, it was difficult enough with 24 hours, which I think was too long as well. Giving users that much time allows for two major issues to come up. Those who get buyers remorse. Believe it or not, but there are "chronic refunders" out there. A dev can easily see a high refund rate. Next, it gives hackers that much more time to download an app, hack the licensing, redistribute freely and still get a refund.

If you are buying an app, test it out right then and there. There is no need to wait a day or two before checking to see if the app works as intended, etc. I would say a max of two hours is more than enough time to test even the most feature rich apps to the point where you'll decide if you want to keep it or not. That even allows for time to download the supplemental files that some apps require as well.

Honestly, Android users got a little spoiled with the original 24 hour refund window. To make a comparison, Apple users don't get a refund window and most don't seem to mind paying a dev a buck or two for a good app. Android users seem to want and expect something for nothing a lot of the time. They tend to complain that they have to pay a buck or two for an app and then they go further by complaining that a dev doesn't also have a free version. As great as that would be, to a dev that amounts to doing twice the work for half the return. Does that seem fair? Obviously there are a lot of crap apps out there done by devs who don't really care. But there are some devs out there who turn out some great apps. Why not reward them for their hard work with a buck or two? Take into consideration that Google takes a hefty chuck of all sales, a whopping 30%.

So... 24 or 48 hours is far too long. 15 minutes is too short. So why not something more reasonable for both devs and users and set it to something like 2 hours. That is more than fair.

wicketr says:

With Apple, apps are reviewed, critiqued, and reviewed again by Apple before they're even released to the public. With Android, you're essentially a guinea pig.

It's essential for the Android community to have a trial period if Google doesn't want to create a group that filters out the buggy/crap apps.

kahil says:

Well, first of all, you can sit there and mark an app as abusive and report it all you want, Google won't do anything about it unless it is a major issue. Otherwise, if they did, then we wouldn't see the countless spam apps, porn and various other junk apps that are all over the place.

No one is saying there shouldn't be a trial period, there should, but not for long periods like 24 or 48 hours.

JEvoUser says:

Yeah but let's not forget there are games out there that require a almost 1 gigabyte extra download just to start playing and I know on my old Internet connection that could easily be 2 days just to find the time to get it downloaded completely. An example of this is many of the Gameloft titles and Spectral Souls was also very massive. Games like this over a crap 256kbs dsl router again takes almost 2 days tell I'm home enough for the download to complete. So I don't think 2 days is too much time. Besides it isn't hard for the poeple who steal apps to just download them because they are going to if the refund is 15 minutes or 15 days. But atleast now if you buy an app and it starts force closing or whatever you have the time to find out why and see if you can fix it. Like many home launcher applications for the htc EVO 4G(specifically adwEX) they may work fine until 30 or 40 minutes later you realize that leaving auto rotation enabled causes the app to force close like crazy.

wraith404 says:

Yeah, that's the most ludicrous part of the 15 minute window. I'm almost convinced that some developers build apps in this way so as to make refunds impossible.

It would be best if the window would not start until you had completed all ancillary downloads, though I'm sure the technical details (though simple in my mind) are more than Google or most developers would be willing to agree to. It should be tied to the copy protection, just as the app checks in with the market once installed for validation, it should have to report back to the market an initial 'activation complete' event. Developers found falsifying this event should of course have all customer purchases refunded, be kicked from the developer program, and be beaten with a rubber hose.

kahil says:

I addressed that, hence going for a two hour refund period. If you are downloading a game that requires a lot of files to download, then connect via wifi and it'll download in no time...no excuse not to.

JEvoUser says:

No excuse except slow Internet.

bkrodgers says:

Though I'd welcome it increasing from 15 minutes, it's not changing based on this. The agreement has always said 48 hours, going back to when it was still 24. Developers agree that it can be up to 48 hours, but the actual window has always been shorter.

RUSH says:

First it was an hour... Everybody was ok with it. Then it went to 15 mins... Everyone was upset with it. Now It has moved up to 48 hrs... Some people now thinks its too long. LOL. Don't you think Google knows what they're doing. Relax and enjoy the game Androiders. Hahaha

nathan 007 says:

First it was 24 hours, not 1 hour. I think 2-3 hours would be reasonable.

AndroidUK says:

Developers of complex apps are losing sales due to only 15 minutes to try the app. Some apps take at least 15 minutes to set up and test let alone find that they reliably do what the description says!

In the event that Google won't change their stance, the best solution I came across recently was a trial verson of an app that was fully functional but only licenced by the Google server for a limited period (around a week I think).

That was enough time to thoroughly test the app. I then bought the full version which is also licenced by Google on a continuing basis.

For those interested, the app was EasyProfiles by Smartdyne.

You can read their FAQ on licencing at: http://smartdyne.de/easyprofiles/faq.shtml