As most of you know, paid Android apps are not available in China or Taiwan, but there are a couple of tricks to work around this (such as the sim card swap). The key point to know is that (at least for smartphones), your location is determined by the country of your sim card. So, if you are using a US, UK, German etc sim card then you will see paid apps no matter where you are. (Does anyone know how it works with non sim card devices like WiFi-only tablets?).
However, even after a successful purchase, the story doesn’t end there. Updating paid apps can also be a problem.
Of course, the sim card swap trick would work again but that’s a lot of effort for what might be a very minor update and not everyone has a suitable sim card readily available. Thankfully, the Market app still informs the user when a paid app update is available. Also, if there is more than one app available for update, then the Update All button can be used to pull in the updates.
However, if the paid app is the only available update then things get nasty:
The old Android Market app
When viewing your apps (My Apps) and seeing “Update” next to a single paid app, if you were to then click on that app you would see a “The requested item could not be found” message. Luckily there was an alternative way - simply long-press on the app and select Update from the context menu.
The new Google Play Store app (3.0.26, released mid July 2011)
Sadly, the long-press functionality is no longer available, so the best thing is to wait for an Update All. It’s not all bad though. Now, when you click on the paid app, you no longer see the error message. Instead, you actually see the app page but the only buttons available are Open and Uninstall. (I hope this does not encourage people to leave negative comments when they are unable to Update!)
I have contacted the Google Play Store team about this already. Let’s hope they fix it soon…