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I’ve been traveling to Asia often lately and found that when I am in countries like South Korea or Thailand (where I am right now), I found that you cannot access certain apps on the Play Store. Now, this can become a headache especially when I can’t get apps like Google Voice, which I need to keep in contact with my friends and voice messages for my phone number in the U.S. Also, I do enjoy listening to music using Pandora app or watching movies with Netflix when I am traveling outside the U.S.
Well, I found out the hard way the first time that I couldn’t download any of these apps, especially after installing a new custom ROM. One of the easiest way to get around this is to simply have the apps you want installed on your phone before traveling. But since I do install new custom ROMs often and reset my phone almost on daily basis, sometimes I do need to actually re-download these apps from the Play Store.
Also, you can use Titanium Backup app to backup all of your apps before installing custom ROMs, so you can restore your apps instead of re-downloading them from the Play Store.
But what if Murphy Law’s comes into effect, where I forget to install my apps, I forget to backup apps using Titanium backup, and perhaps the only way is to get the apps on Play Store?
No worries, I found out how to enable U.S. Play Store from any rooted Android smartphone or tablet from anywhere in the world.
This will involve tricking the Play Store to think I am in the U.S.
We can trick the Play Store by doing the following:
1. We need a U.S. IP address. Play Store will check the IP address of the Android device you are using, if your IP is not in the U.S., you will not have access to the Play Store. We can solve this by either installing SSH Tunnel or VPN, both of which will route your traffic through a computer in the U.S. soil.
2. We need to change the SIM numeric value to a U.S. carrier. For example, if you are using a Thai SIM card, Play Store will detect the Thai SIM card numeric number and not let you access to the U.S. Play Store and apps. We can get around this by changing our SIM numeric value to a U.S. carrier one like T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon.
3. We need to turn off all of our location services for Google apps. This will prevent the Play Store from accessing our real location. We can simply turn off all of our location settings to solve this.
So, let’s do this!
Requirements: You will need a rooted Android smartphone or tablet.
Step 1. You will need to setup an SSH Tunnel or VPN so your apps are routed through a U.S.-based IP address.
For SSH Tunnel, if you have a linux computer at home (in U.S.), you can setup a simple SSH server or even use a U.S. web server if you have one.
For VPN, there are many free VPN services you can sign up and setup a VPN using VPN apps.
Setting up SSH Tunnel of VPN is outside the scope of this tutorial, you can find many tutorials online for this. So, go ahead and set that up. For SSH Tunnel, I do have a video tutorial here.
Most SSH Tunnel or VPN apps have an option to route all of your apps through “Global Proxy”, meaning your apps will use U.S. IP for all apps, make sure you enable that.
Once done setting up your SSH Tunnel or VPN, you can goto WhatIsMyIP.com to check that your IP is a U.S. IP.
Step 2. Next, download Market Access app from XDA, install theapp then choose “T-Mobile US” as your new SIM numeric value. This will trick Play Store into thinking you are using a U.S. SIM card.
Step 3. Turn off all your location services in Settings.
Double-check that location services is turned off in Settings->Accounts->Google also.
Step 4. Turn on your SSH Tunnel or VPN at this point.
Step 5. Go to Settings->Apps or Settings->Application Manager, find Google Play Store.
Step 6. Choose “Clear Data” to clear data.
Step 7. Open up Play Store and you should see a pop-up window welcoming you back.
Step 8. Congratulations! You should now be able to see and download any U.S. apps like Pandora, Netflix, Google Voice, etc…etc…
You can now turn off your SSH Tunnel/VPN until your next reboot as it will stay.
Want to do some more damage?
You can also play with the SIM numeric values to get carrier-specific apps. E.g. Set it to Verizon to get Verizon apps that would normally not show up in regular Play Store.
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