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Amazon acknowledges its Appstore is breaking on Android 12

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There appear to be compatibility issues between Amazon’s built-in DRM and Android 12

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Shortly after Google rolled out the Android 12 update in October, users started noticing that they’re unable to use any of the apps in the Amazon Appstore, as reported by 9to5Google. Reports of the issue cropped up on the Amazon forum over a month ago, and there’s no timeline for a possible fix (via Liliputing).

“We are aware and working to resolve an issue impacting app performance and launches for the small number of Amazon Appstore users that have upgraded to Android 12 on their mobile devices,” Amazon spokesperson Troy Edwards told The Verge. “This issue does not impact Amazon Fire Tablets or Fire TV devices.”

One user, Lovingboth, describes their experience with the issue in the thread on Amazon’s forum:

My rain radar app from the Amazon Appstore is still happily running and giving me alerts via notifications, but I can’t actually see them because it is being prevented from running full screen by the Amazon Appstore’s failure to run properly.

Additionally, some users say no apps appear when they open the Amazon Appstore, while others cite receiving prompts to update their apps when no update is needed. An Amazon staff member also responded to complaints in the forum, noting that the “technical team is still investigating the issue,” but doesn’t offer much of an explanation of what went wrong.

As pointed out by Liliputing, the issue may stem from a lack of compatibility between Amazon’s built-in DRM and Android 12. One user on the Amazon forum, Eduardo S, highlights a workaround that points to DRM as the root of the issue. He notes that — for the technologically savvy — you can try downloading an app’s APK on another device that has an older version of Android. From there, you can decompile the app’s code, comment out lines referring to the DRM, repackage it with a self-signed certificate, and then install the APK on your Android 12 device. Easy, right?

While the issue may be affecting only a “small” number of users now, that number will only continue to grow. Google first launched Android 12 on just Pixel devices, but Galaxy S21 users also received the update in mid-November. Samsung is planning to bring the update to more of its phones in the future and so are other device manufacturers, further complicating things for Amazon.