One of the most annoying things about Android is its fragmentation – not only between different versions of the OS running on different devices, but also the fragmentation of the Play Store. I’m talking about those apps that are invisible to certain Android devices for no good reason; they’d run fine on any old Android device, but for whatever reason, the app developer only makes them visible to certain devices.
Previously, it was possible to get around this particular restriction by simply editing the build.prop file – this is a text file that can only be edited if you have root access, and can lead to some unexpected results if you’re not careful. For example, people have had OTA updates fail because of an altered build.prop, and depending on what you change, your device might even become unstable. Additionally, while it’s always recommended to make a backup before editing anything at the system level of Android, lots of people don’t – and if you mess something up without having a backup, it can be painful or downright impossible to completely recover your device.
Luckily, I recently stumbled upon a root-only app that helps solve this problem. Called Market Helper, this app does precisely what you’d think it would: it makes the Google Play Store even better, by spoofing your Android device to download otherwise “incompatible” apps. Here’s how it works:
Simply open up the app, and grant it root access. Then choose which device you’d like to spoof: Right now, the only options are the Samsung Galaxy S III, the Amazon Kindle, the Kindle HD, and the ASUS Nexus 7 3G, but the developer is working on making more device profiles available soon. (There’s even an option to contribute by sending in your own device’s profile – this way, the developer will eventually be able to support dozens of different devices.) Then, simply open up the Play Store and find your app. That’s it!
To restore your device’s default profile, just select that option in the app. Or, alternately, you can reboot your device; the changes that this app makes do not survive a reboot, so there’s no need to worry about backing anything up or permanently messing up your device. Pretty simple, right?
For obvious reasons, this isn’t in the Play Store, so you’ll have to download it directly from the developer’s website. There’s also a recent note on the site about the developer having internet connectivity issues, so there may be a delay before the app is updated to support more device profiles. In any case, it worked perfectly for my purposes: I ended up installing Mr. Number on my ASUS Nexus 7. I’m a fan of this particular app’s reverse phone lookup functionality, but it’s not officially available on tablets. Since I didn’t want it running all the time on my HTC EVO 4G LTE, I decided to use Market Helper to download Mr. Number by spoofing a Galaxy S III.
Another obvious use is to spoof a Nexus 7 in order to download the Amazon tablet app on an “unsupported” tablet. As more devices eventually are supported, more uses will arise.
You can download the app below.