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Sideload Apps that use Google Maps API with this APK hack!


The new adventure of “sideloading” has certainly taken on quite an evolution:

  • Back since OS 2 of the Playbook and the early days of BB10, we were able to quickly sideload simple apps – but not apps using Android native code.
  • Along came what has become known as “the xsacha method” to use the DebugToken to sideload apps that use native code, such as Angry Birds
  • For me, there were still a bunch of apps that didn’t work until AT&T graced me with the OS 10.1 upgrade
  • Along came the solid 10.2 leak which suddenly opened the door to even more Android apps that required a higher version of the Android OS than the Gingerbread that 10.1 had to offer, e.g. Feedly
But there has still always been a tremendous void. A whole handful of simple apps just would not work. Using Catlog (when it still worked – I believe tighter security in Jelly Bean blocks it from reading logs in 10.2 without root) it was apparent that the failure was due to the apps expecting the Google Maps API which is not baked into BB10’s Android runtime. I had simply resigned myself to the reality that those apps would just never work.
…Until now! I stumbled upon yet another CrackBerry Forum post which lead me to a solution. In a nutshell, the AndroidManifest.xml file contains directives as to which libraries to expect and, more importantly, whether or not they are required. I will document the steps to modify the APK file so that the missing libraries are no longer required. For the purposes of keeping this as brief as possible, I will have to assume you are already familiar with how to obtain an APK and “the xsacha method.”
  • First, download and unpack the APKTool application
  • Place the APK you want to modify in the same directory. Let’s call the APK Foo.apk
  • Get a Command Prompt in that directory (Shift+Right-click, Open Command Window Here should work in recent versions of Windows)
  • Type the following command:
    apktool d Foo.apk Foo

    This will create a sub-directory called Foo and decode the APK contents into it. Don’t close the Command Prompt just yet.

  • Go into the Foo directory and open the AndroidManifest.xml file in your favourite text editor
  • If the Google Maps API is the only problem, you are looking for the following line:
    <uses-library android:name=“”/>
  • Modify it to look like so:
    <uses-library android:name=“” android:required=“false”/>
    (Repeat this process for any other required library which might be causing problems.)
  • After saving the XML file, go back to the Command Prompt. Type the following command to repackage the APK to Foo2.apk:
    apktool b Foo Foo2.apk
  • I wish I could say we were done. But unfortunately, I’ve found that since the resulting, modified APK is not signed, it will fail when you try to convert it to a .BAR
  • The simplest way around I found, based on this YouTube video was the SignAPK app. Follow the instructions in the video description to download and unpack the utility.
  • NEW: I’ve added one step to make using SignAPK that much easier. In the the SignAPK directory, add a batch file, SignAPK.bat with the following code:
    java -jar signapk.jar certificate.pem key.pk8  %1 %~n1-signed.apk

    Now, simply place in the same directory and drag-and-drop it onto SignAPK.bat. This will automatically produce Foo2-signed.apk. The next step is no longer necessary.

  • Place in the same directory and run the following command in a Command Prompt:
    java -jar signapk.jar certificate.pem key.pk8 Foo2.apk Foo2-signed.apk
  • (Obviously, you need to have Java on the machine for that to work but anyone who’s come this far almost certainly does.)
That’s pretty much it! Foo2-signed.apk is now ready to run through the standard APK-to-BAR conversion process and sideload to your device. I’ve used this method to successfully sideload and run apps such as Dunkin Donuts, 7-Eleven and Geico. It should be noted that these apps do contain functionality that relies on Google Maps (such as “Find the nearest …”) and if you try those, the app will crash. Have fun! DFTBA!
33 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Is that device specific or can someone make the file and post it here?

  2. I think I broke a sweat just reading that…looks like I will have a ton of playing around and figuring out to do.

  3. So I guess this works on 10.1 right?
    I’m not that courageous to load 10.2 with all them bugs and warnings not to restore.

  4. Thanks for the method!
    Unfortunatly it doesn’t work with some apps! i tried it on Grindr and it didn’t work! I no longer have the -9 failure (failure -104 instead O_o) but i launch the app it says it’s not responding and prompts to close!

  5. I’m guessing this is exclusively for apps which fail to load with the -9 error since apps such as Facebook 3.6 open Google Maps 7.1 when the apps needs to give me a location or a route.

  6. Is it possible to not just deactivate an API call but to redirect it using this method? So that one could simply use that instruction to replace Google Maps with Open Street Maps?

  7. what am i doing wrong? Error: Unable to access jarfile

  8. got it. downloaded the wrong apktool

  9. hey guys! i’m trying to make all this since two days and…. nothing with my mac i can’t find a way to make it work!
    the apktool couldn’t find the files even if i put the whole path and… decompressind the file with unarchiver i can’t find the line of google maps….
    may i ask if someone could send me the files to sideload?

    • Which app are you trying to sideload ? I can try to fix the apk for you.

      • oh thanks if you could do it it should be great
        i’d like for Planet romeo, hornet, scruff and bender, i wanted to do it for all the applications except grindr that won’t work….. if you have the files already you can send me by mail or skype…
        really kind.

        • PR works with this method, scruff and Bender (which is available in BlackBerry World now) do not need to be modified in order to work.
          I haven’t tried hornet but I think it’s the same case as grindr

          • The problem is that i’m not able to make the process i tried hundred times in these days but nothing the apktool seems no working on my Mac!
            I tried to install scruff but it crushes and though with this method make it workin…

            • I can send you the modified PR, Bender (if you can’t download it from BBW) and scruff!

              • It will be fantastic! I’ve just downloaded bender……just didn’t know it was avable on BB World!….i though it was avable with the new OS 10.2…tell me how can i recive the apps from you!!!!!
                Really happy you can help me!

  10. PM me you email and I’ll gladly send the apk’s. 😉

  11. The repackaging always fails for me, if I try to repackage without changing anything in the folder it works, as soon as I apply the following line:
    I get an error message starting with error: Error parsing XML: not well-formed (invalid token) and a lot more than just that.
    I tried 2 files with error 9 and when I try to fix the google.maps part I get the same error message trying to repackage the folder back to apk, what am I doing wrong?

    • you want to email me the AndoidManifest.xml ? Or maybe just paste the text into a PM if it will fit.

      • No, I got one file to work for some reason I don’t know and then another file wouldn’t work with the same error…
        Is it the way I’m saving it, the program that’s editing it…what?

    • That’s cuz you copy/paste the code from the post! “Type” in the code instead. At least that was the problem by me.

  12. Hopefully you guys have found – and continue to find – this hack useful. Just used it myself to get the very useful Key Ring app to work. (And also got myself a free small coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts last week thanks to the app!)

    I’ve just added – replaced, I should say – a step to make this a wee bit easier. I’ve edited the post and the new step is marked NEW. Basically, it takes out one of the Command Line steps and replaces it with a drag-and-drop.

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