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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Amazon’s Appstore Doesn’t Work on Android 12

A photo of the Amazon Appstore on a Pixel 6 Pro

The Amazon Appstore is having some problems and it could be Amazon’s own DRM.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

As a whole, the Android operating system is a more open platform than its iOS rival. But that doesn’t mean third-party app stores on Google devices always play nice.

If you’re an Amazon Fire Tablet user, you might have downloaded the Amazon Appstore on your Android phone, perhaps because you got an app for free from Amazon and you don’t want to pay for it again through the Google Play store. On Android, it’s as easy as sideloading the APK from Amazon’s app. But Android 12 might have introduced a compatibility issue for the app store. According to Liliputing, the latest version of Android doesn’t seem to work with Amazon’s built-in DRM.

An October 2021 thread dating back to when Android 12 began rolling out to devices titled “Amazon Appstore not working after android 12 [sic] update” is followed by numerous replies detailing the same ailment. “It isn’t working on Android 12 on my Pixel 6 either,” wrote one user. “Same problem on Pixel 5,” wrote another.

The post has since racked up more than 100 replies and received thousands of views. An Amazon staff member eventually addressed the original post, writing that “our technical team is aware of the issue.” However, it appears they’re still looking for a resolution, and simply making sure you have the latest version of the Amazon Appstore installed won’t fix much.

Amazon told The Verge it’s aware of the issue impacting app performance, adding that it doesn’t seem to affect Amazon Fire Tablets or Fire TV devices.

A photo of three screenshots of Amazon's problems

Amazon now warns you about its Appstore issues on Android 12.
Screenshot: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

When you download the Amazon Appstore on an Android 12 device, as I did on the Pixel 6 Pro, there’s a giant banner at the top that says: “We’re excited about Android 12 too. Unfortunately we’re working through some issues. Thank you for your patience as we get your Appstore back.”

The banner does not pop up on my OnePlus 9, which is still on Android 11. Anecdotally, I can also report that the Amazon Appstore feels slower on the Pixel 6 Pro, and some page categories aren’t even loading. The only apps that seem to appear are ones published by Amazon. By comparison, the OnePlus 9 had no issues downloading apps.

The problem could be related to Amazon’s built-in DRM, as one commenter in the thread noticed that a little expert-level tinkering could get Amazon’s apps working on the Android 12 devices. It involves decompiling the APK on an older version of Android and then recompiling it to work with a self-signed certificate. But at that point, you’re better off looking for the app in the Google Play Store.

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