- Anonymous logins no longer work in Aurora Store v3. Only logging in with a Google account will work
- In v4, Anonymous login’s do work, but they no longer do location-spoofing, so geo-restricted or country- or locale-specific apps will no longer appear in search results,
Like many others, I have had a problem today to log in to Aurora store as Anonymous. I tried upgrading - via F-Droid - from v3.2.9 (the version in Apps) to the latest version 4.0.2. That worked OK, but I could not find a couple of UK-specific apps (playMoreGolf app, NHS Covid Tracking app) in the search results, although they did appear is search suggestions. So I headed off to the Aurora App Store official support Telegram channel
So, after a lengthy - and rather heated on my part - discussion in that channel, it appears that the situation is as follows:
in v.3 Aurora Store used location spoofing for anonymous accounts - I believe based on the phone’s locale - so that locale-specific / geo-restricted Apps (like UK NHS Covid app) would appear for users in that locale.
v.4 no longer uses location spoofing for anonymous accounts so, unless you hit it lucky and get an anonymous account with the correct locale, those apps will no longer appear in the results.
Now that v.4 is available, anonymous accounts will no longer work in v.3 so you can no longer get these apps directly through Aurora Store.
Two workarounds were suggested. (One of them is not going to be welcomed by /e/ users :))
Workaround 1. In your browser, search for ‘playstore’ and ‘app name’ e.g. ‘playstore nhs uk covid’. Long press the correct link in the search results, choose ‘Open link in external app’, then choose Aurora Store. The app you are after will get installed, but you may not get updates unless you know to go looking for them in the browser again. (I need to check that out - I’ll report back)
Workaround 2. (Don’t shout at me, I’m just passing on the message) Use your own Google account
A third suggestion was that /e/ could run their own ‘tokenizer’ (i.e. the thing that provides anonymous accounts for the app to use) which does support location spoofing. I’ll raise an issue in gitlab, but, given that /e/ are keen to promote their own ‘Apps’ store (despite the bugs and the fact that noone knows anything about the site that the apks actually come from), I don’t hold out a lot of hope.
It came up in discussion, that the location spoofing was removed because the developer considered it ‘bloat’. I pointed out that one person’s ‘bloat’ is another’s ‘functionality I use every day’.
One positive thing, and something that you could all do: their Telegram channel has a feature where, if you make a suggestion, a bot will allow you to vote. So someone added the suggestion ‘Add an option to chose anonymous account location’. If you click on this link, you should be able to vote for Approve or Reject.
If you are interested in how the discussion went, it started with this post.
I’m really annoyed by the whole thing: to me this is software that used to work, now it doesn’t work and we cannot revert to a working version. It adds a layer of ‘friction’ for /e/ users, just at a time when /e/ seems to be picking up a lot more ‘non-techie’ users who want a smooth-functioning alternative to Google. And the Aurora Store admins wouldn’t agree that anything was ‘broken’…
Anyway, that’s enough for one evening - I’m going to have a beer
PS Does someone else want to suggest to /e/ that they put version 4 of Aurora Store into Apps quite soon, otherwise /e/ users will need to use their Google account to log in?