ThinkBoxly is the personal developer blog of Lucas Chasteen, author, programmer, artist, and always learning. Read more

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Got Google Play Issues? Here’s Fixes and Workarounds

Android is undoubtedly a fantastic operating system, and it has graced some of the greatest mobile hardware to date. But like with everything in this world, things can go wrong on Android. And sometimes when things go wrong, they go really, really wrong.

If you haven’t noticed, Google Play has encountered something of a crisis. Apps and app updates will still download just fine, but a severe number of downloads will then fail and pull a “Package file is invalid” error.

The issue is widespread enough that Google has publicly taken notice:

[#10230007] “Package File Invalid” error when downloading or updating apps
We’ve received reports that some users are getting “Package File Invalid” while trying to download or update apps.
We’re currently investigating a permanent solution, and there are no workarounds at this time.
We’ll continue to update this page with developments, so check back soon.

Until a proper fix is found, what’s an Android user to do? Well, despite Google’s statement that there are no workarounds for the issue, it appears that a few things do in fact cure the issue, albeit temporarily. These ‘fixes’ are far from universal as well–they may work for your Android device, or they may not. All you can do is try them and see.

• Disable Wifi and download the app/update with 4G (Warning: it is your responsibility to make sure you don’t exceed your data plan and incur overage fees!) If your device is wifi-only, try changing networks.

• Log out of Google Play and log back in.

• Go to Settings > Apps > Google Play Store and hit ‘Clear Data’. Repeat for Google Framework and Google Play Services.

• Download and install VPN software to access Google Play through a ‘hidden’ network. (If downloading a VPN client through Google Play is itself throwing an error, Hotspot Shield is a free Android VPN client and you can legally install the .APK manually by downloading from here)

• Do the hokey pokey (actually, please don’t).

Should all of these temporary fixes fail you, or should you simply not feel like fighting with Google Play every time you try to download an app or update one you already have, there is actually yet another option. One of the great things about Android is that it is open, and as such Google’s app store is not your only choice. Until the issues get sorted with Google Play, you might try relying on one of these stores instead:

Amazon Appstore – Among other things done well, Amazon has built up a pretty fantastic app store for Android. Most people will already have an Amazon account, so all you’ll have to do is download the Amazon Appstore app (which itself does not go through Google Play), log in, and carry on with business basically as usual. As added bonuses, Amazon offers one paid app for free every day, and some participating apps (free and paid alike) will score you credit towards Amazon’s MP3 store just for downloading. Add to that the reputability of Amazon and you have a real winner on your hands, even when Google Play is perfectly functional.

SlideME – While it may not have the same selection as Google or Amazon, SlideME features a respectable collection of Android apps based on the fact that every submission has to pass strict quality control testing. Purchasing paid apps is probably more convenient here than anywhere else too, what with SlideME’s support for Paypal and Amazon Payments, with literally dozens more options on the way.

CNET – Remember the days when download websites were just lists of brief descriptions with maybe–maybe–one or two screenshots and a few user comments? CNET may have changed a bit since then, but not much. If you’re brave enough to kick it relatively old school, CNET/ has an extensive offering of Android apps for your perusal. You won’t get the fancy slideshows of full-res images, but with a few checkboxes and scrolls the selection is easily narrowed down for you to find what you need.

Our dear, dear, Google Play may be tough to replace, but whether by fix or by workaround, thanks to the openness of Android it is quite possible to cope with issues such as the one we’re all facing now. A proper fix may be in place tomorrow or a week from now, so keep your eyes peeled and always stay prepared!