We all know by now how much piracy can affect sales of our app's. It's pretty discouraging for us developers that lots of people won't even pay a couple of quid for an app that sometimes will actually save them time and money.
People can download app's in minutes onto their jailbroken devices and easily bypass the DRM protections that Apple has baked into their delivery systems. It's so easy that even non-techies are doing it.
What are our options? What can we do to prevent this?
1) Nothing: This is what most developers are doing because they either don't really think piracy affects sales or they don't really care if it does.
2) Build in some simple piracy detection code which checks things like strings in the info.plist file, but this method is very easily hacked.
3) Use some third party tools such as the paid (expensive) subscription model offered by the RipDev team or the donationware tool AntiCrack
(or AntiCraic as I like to call it) provided by Oliver Drobnik (AKA Dr. Touch).
With my first app, I went in the above order 1, 2 then 3. So far solution 3 (AntiCraic) is the only one which hasn't been broken. AntiCrack doesn't actually stop your app from being downloaded through crackulous or other tools, but it does detect if your app is running as a pirated version so you can disable it somehow or put adverts in it etc. AntiCrack hasn't been circumvented to this date.
For Jelly SMS
, I let the user send the first 2 text messages fine, then when they try and send a third, I pop up a message saying their trial version has expired and present a button which links them to the app in the store. Drobnik dubbed this approach "Silent Lite", as it isn't immediately obvious to a cracker that their crack hasn't worked.
I would definitely recommend putting some form of protection into your apps from version 1 if possible. AntiCrack version 2.0 was released at the weekend and Drobnik claims this version will actually prevent crackulous from being able to crack your app at all... (for now).
You can download my presentation slides (XCake Galway on Sept 17th 2009) about piracy here