How to Install Incompatible Android Apps from Google Play

By Chris Hoffman on June 13th, 2012

image

Some Android apps on Google Play claim to be incompatible with various devices. There’s a good chance that these apps will run fine on many of these devices – you can bypass this check with root access.

Some apps won’t actually work after you install them, but many will. This also solves problems with games that will install but refuse to play – for example, Gameloft games with the “this device is incompatible” message.

Setup

To perform this hack, you’ll need to root your Android smartphone or tablet. After you do, you should install ES File Explorer from Google Play.

Editing Build.prop

The build.prop file contains a few strings (bits of text) that identify your device model. If you edit this file, Google Play and other apps will think you’re using a different device than you actually are. Be very careful when editing this file – we’ll just be editing a few tiny parts of it. If you edit other parts, you could cause serious problems with your device.

First, launch the ES File Explorer app. Open its Settings screen and enable the Root Explorer and Mount File System options. You may also want to enable the Up to Root option on this screen, so you can easily tap the Up button and navigate to your root directory.

image

Navigate to the /system/ directory on your device and locate the build.prop file.

image

You should create a copy of the original build.prop file elsewhere – long-press on it, select Copy, and then Paste it into another folder – say, your /sdcard/ folder.

image

Now you’re ready to edit the file. Long-press it, select Open As, select Text, and select the ES Note Editor app.

image

Look for the ro.product.model and ro.product.manufacturer lines. These are the important ones.

image

Change these lines to pretend your device is another model. For example, to imitate a Nexus S, use these lines:

  • ro.product.model = Nexus S
  • ro.product.manufacturer = samsung

After making this change, tap the menu button and select Save.

image

Final Steps

Go into the Settings screen, select Applications, select Manage Applications, tap the All category, and select the Google Play app. Clear its cache and data, and then restart your device

image

Open Google Play and you should be able to download apps that claim they’re not compatible with your device. Games that detect your device should also work, too – Gameloft games seem to be particularly guilty of this. Some apps may still not install or work with your device for other reasons — for example, Google Chrome won’t work on pre-Android 4.0 devices, and some apps may be restricted to certain countries.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 06/13/12
More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!