Google has announced that it will be rolling out a copy protection mechanism for Android Market applications when used with phones running Android 1.5 or higher. It works kind of like this:
- Google sets up a special licensing server, which keeps record of application purchases.
- Developers can use libraries provided by Google that query this server each time the application is started.
- The server then tells the application if the user has a valid license to use the application.
Relax everyone. Google already has this info, it's how it (and you) keeps track of apps you've purchased for re-installation or updating. All Google has done is allow applications to ping the new server to get a "yes" or "no" on whether or not the user has really paid for the app. This is a good thing for developers and users alike -- at least until someone finds a way around it.
It also means a new SDK is in the works, as this will be out "in the next few months." Developers can check out the new Licensing Your Applications portion of the Android Developer Guide, and the Android Market Help Center to learn a bit more. [Android Developers Blog]
Update: There's a new post on the Android Developers Blog with some clarification and highlights. Hit the link to see them, here's a quick overview: It's secure, using public/private keys. Nobody is going to get your details. User applications don't talk to the licensing server, the Market handles it all on the back end. Tools are in place to allow developers handle times when a user may be off line. This should alleviate some fears, and answer some questions.
Update #2: The original blog post has been updated. These tools are available for use now, and the old way will be phased out over the coming months. Maybe the guys in the Android Dev Ecosystem read Android Central :)