I had a bout of insomnia last night so I decided to be productive and finally figure out a workaround for an issue with Android that has been bothering me since I bought my Nexus 10 in April. That issue is purchasing paid apps in the country where I live. Whenever I have tried to purchase a paid app, the app is listed as incompatible with my device. In fact they are compatible, they're just not available for purchase in my country.
I had assumed it was the app developers who were blocking their apps in my country, but after a few seconds of investigating last night I realized my anger at them had been misplaced. It's Google that is responsible, they only allow app purchases from a limited list of countries. They claim they are "working hard" at adding more countries, but since I live in one of the smaller countries in the world I don't have any expectation they will support us any time soon.
So onto how to workaround this stupid restriction… it's actually not that difficult once you figure out what Google is checking. It seems what they're looking for is: 1) The country of your IP address, 2) The country of your Google account, and 3) The country of the billing address of your credit card. It seems all 3 have to be consistent and from a supported country.
The credit card might be a stumbling block for many people. Lucky me, I have a Canadian credit card and Canada is a supported country. It has to be set up with the correct billing address in Google Wallet.
The country of your google account can be changed, if necessary, by going to your account settings and clicking the little "Edit" link beside the Email heading near the top of the page.
Changing my IP address to a Canadian one was also fairly simple – I used a free VPN app from the play store. There are a few that provide a Canadian server and the one I picked worked well enough for my purposes.
Once the VPN app was installed and working on my Nexus 10 this is what I did:
1) Cleared the data from the Play Store app
2) Stopped the Play Store app
3) Confirmed the VPN is connected to a server in my country (Canada) and verified that it gave me a Canadian IP address (there are many websites that will report your IP address and country)
4) Restarted the Play Store app
5) Accepted some terms or something (I didn't bother reading it)
6) Then I was all good to go.
This all worked for me at least – I was finally able to purchase an app from the Play Store for the first time. I also saw movies, books and magazines appearing, which I normally don't see – but I didn't try to purchase any so I can't confirm if that works or not. I can't imagine streaming a movie through a free VPN would be a very rewarding experience anyway.
No Play Music store though. Canadians aren't allowed to purchase music from Google I guess. That's OK by me since I only buy music in flac format and Google is mp3 only.
Of course I'm now questioning the wisdom of posting this all on Google+ – but what the heck – if Google wants to take steps to block me more power to them. It just means I won't be able to buy apps, and I'll save a little money.
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