If you are not able to download the Netflix app on your rooted Android phone, then you are not alone. Users who have rooted their Android phones to gain access to more settings than the average user are not be able to grab Netflix’s app from Google Play anymore because the video streaming giant is blocking downloads on such devices.
Why is Netflix blocking its app on rooted Android phone?
On Saturday, Netflix’s app started showing up as “incompatible” on the Play Store for unlocked and rooted Android devices. The app itself, however, continued to work fine, leading many to think that it could have been an accident, but the streaming service confirmed that blocking modified devices from downloading the app was not an accident but intentional, notes Android Police.
The video streaming giant confirmed to Android Police that its app is not visible on Google Play to anyone with a device that has been altered or is not Google-certified. A spokesperson said it is all about the shift in copy protection. Because version 5.0 of Netflix’s app relies more on Google’s Widevine digital rights management to prevent piracy, the video streaming service has to make modified devices incompatible.
“With our latest 5.0 release, we now fully rely on the Widevine DRM provided by Google; therefore, many devices that are not Google-certified or have been altered will no longer work with our latest app and those users will no longer see the Netflix app in the Play Store,” the spokesperson said.
Widevine is actually a Google-made DRM technology that works across several mobile and desktop platforms. This technology categorizes devices into three levels of security, ranging from processes running in the TEE to processes not running anything in the TEE (Trusted Execution Environment), notes Android Police.
Netflix is not the only app to intentionally turn away devices that have unlocked bootloaders or are rooted. There are other higher profile apps and features that do the same, such as Snapchat, Pokemon and Sony’s camera functionalities, notes SlashGear.
Partly blaming Google
Netflix partly blames Google for the shift, saying it is just using the Widevine DRM provided by Google. All OEM devices that decide to forego Google’s certification process for one reason or another do not officially ship with Google Play Store. Hence, they will not see Netflix, even if they install Google services by other methods.
In reality, the DRM block only affects the discoverability of the app on the Play Store. According to Android Police, the app runs properly for now if you manage to install it like by sideloading the APK. In addition, the Google Play listing seems to be connected to whether the user is cleared to run Android Pay or not and not with Widevine itself, reports Engadget.
Netflix’s decision is not completely shocking, but it creates some problems. Though such an action will prevent users from pirating content or gaming the system, it also punishes users who had legitimate reasons for unlocking or rooting their devices without any malicious intent.