Amazon just launched Amazon Underground, an Android app store where “over $10,000 in apps, games and even in-app items are actually free.” The company’s announcement states, “Many apps and games that are marked as ‘free’ turn out not to be completely free. They use in-app payments to charge you for special items or to unlock features or levels. In Underground, you will find 100% free versions of popular premium titles.”
You know what they say about freebies…that you are the product. That may not be the case with Amazon, as it has wanted more Appstore installs for a long time. Most apps have over-reaching permissions, but Underground currently offers 471 free apps from 19 categories which include games, productivity, entertainment, education, kids, photography, utilities and more.
Here are the permissions the Amazon Underground app asks for:
That may look like a lot, but it looks like even more when those permissions are specifically listed.
Amazon claims it can offer these popular premium apps for free due to “working out a new business model with app and game developers: we’re paying them a certain amount on a per-minute played basis in exchange for them waiving their normal in-app fees. To be clear, we’re the ones picking up those per minute charges so for you it’s simply free. Just look for apps and games marked with an ‘Actually Free’ banner.”
Free Underground apps available under Books and Comics range from the regularly priced $14.99 NIV Quest Study Bible, to $5 Peanut comics and Goodnight Moon, $4 books from the Caillou and Berenstain Bears series and more. This might keep little kids happy and parents as well, being that they are all freebies....so long as you grant all those permissions.
Kids and adults might while away the time with the 256 free Underground game apps, which include titles such as Goat Simulator, normally listed at $4.99, Frozen Free Fall, Star Wars Rebels: Recon Missions, Angry Birds Slingshot Stella, and Looney Tunes Dash.
Change security settings to install
Unlike most apps for Android that you download from the Google Play Store, Amazon’s Underground can’t be found in the Play Store. The company explained, “Google’s rules don’t allow an app that offers apps or games to be included in Google Play.”
Although you can download the app from Amazon, you can’t install it on your Android device without making changes to the normal security settings. Go to Settings>Security and then check the “Unknown Sources” box to allow the installation of apps from both trusted and unknown sources.
Then open Downloads and tap on “Amazon_App.apk” to install it.
It’s up to you to decide if “actually free” is worth it.
Amazon launched Amazon Unlocked, a similar program, back in March. With the launch of Underground, Amazon quietly killed off its Free App of the Day. However, Amazon Underground is meant to be a long-term program, so Amazon will “continue to invent and add more benefits.”