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I am having difficulty finding some apps in Play Store. A lot of times, when I come across a link on the older posts of this website and I load it, I get "Not Found" error on Google Play. I explicitly get:

We're sorry, the requested URL was not found on this server.

I do double check with the app on AppBrain and usually, it shows that XYZ app unpublished on some ABC date in the past, so I end up believing that the app is really dead on Play Store. However, sometimes, a user, whose post I deleted because of dead link tells me that the app is live on Play Store.

I do a check using Opera browser's free VPN service (regions: Europe, Americas, and Asia), and also with a Chrome Extension for American/British VPN service. I again and again get the same dead link. I also ensure using Private Browsing to rule out browser caching.

Recently, a fellow moderator notified me that while I was not able to load the link, he could easily load the app Google Goggles on Play Store. AppBrain still shows the app is no more active on Google Play though.

Similarly, I came across the app MyAndroidTools which does not load in Google Play Store, also seems inactive on AppBrain, but had a fresh beta version, as seen on APKMirror.

How do I ensure that the app is inactive on Google Play for everyone? Alternatively, if it is active on Google Play, how do I load the app's page on Google Play?

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    I cannot answer the question, but Appbrain isn't always up-to-date. I found cases where Appbrain showed the latest release being years in the past, while an app had released a newer version just weeks or months ago. It certainly helps, and if it says "unpublished" that app definitely was unpublished on that day. Facts are right, but just not always recent. // Then, if an app has a new release at <name.it> doesn't necessarily mean it has on Play. With G's sometimes stupid rules, some devs already decided leaving it alone. – Izzy Mar 24 at 11:28
  • From my experience I think that it does mean that the app is unpublished or non active on Google Play; which could be conditional. This could be due to the users locale, the app was removed (made inactive or no longer published), not -- or no longer -- available for specific AOSP versions or device type/size/ect. In my case I had a violation of something involving the payment policies and my app was removed (unpublished by Google) until I resolved the issue and uploaded and new version. As @Izzy mentioned, I've also found that Appbrain is not always up-to-date. – Rockin4Life33 Mar 26 at 23:33
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    One thing that I need more users to clarify/confirm is: have they installed the app before? Some users who recommend apps would probably have installed and used them. Now, I have installed Google Goggles before it was removed, and I could still open its Play Store entry and install it on my device until now. I couldn't find it by searching Google Goggles from the Play Store on my Android device, but I could open it from the Play Store library. On the other hand, I always got "not found" error for apps that I've never installed before [...] – Andrew T. Mar 30 at 11:26
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    Currently, my guess is between: 1) if the user has installed the app before, or 2) if it's still on their Play Store library. Now, I just removed it from my library, and will wait for some hours/days to let it synced and see if I still can open it from the web Play Store. I'm still unsure if Goggles is actually region-locked, but based on my experience for active region-locked apps, they are still shown on the web Play Store, but cannot be installed with "this app is not available in your country" message. – Andrew T. Mar 30 at 11:35
  • @AndrewT. I had a hunch this might be the case but I didn't have an app installed which cannot be found on Play Store. Thanks for testing this out. :) – Firelord Mar 30 at 11:55
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+100

Well here's something that I know since I have experienced it in the recent period. Apparently, it so works that when an app is "unpublished", then the app is still downloadable by existing users (those who own the app, either because they paid for it or because they acquired it when it was free).

The users who already own an app will see it in Play Store (app and web) while logged into the same Google account using which it was acquired.

It would be a different outcome when apps are removed (deleted) due to violations. Deleted apps should no longer be available for installation to any user. But since I know that Flamingo was unpublished because it did hit the API limit from Twitter, it is still there, regularly updated, but not available to the public if they never owned it before when it was live and available for purchase (download).

Screenshots (the flamingo example):

App direct URL - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.samruston.twitter

enter image description here

As it is entirely dependent on the Google account and whether the app was owned by the user in the past, there will be no 3rd party api which can tell you if an app is still downloadable from the Play Store. Play Store throws a direct 404 for such apps which are not downloadable unless you are an existing user.

So, I believe you should remove such links because well, these apps are not available for new users to download and these are basically the ones who need the app. Existing users will already have it. With the exception that such apps do not appear anymore in Play Store search, even if you own the app and are logged into your Google account.

And as much as I know, apps locked to certain countries are still browseable in the web version of the Play Store and even within Play Store app. On the mobile app, it is not downloadable and marked as "This item is not available in your country". So, a VPN or location change will not help you to access a Play Store app which throw a 404. You should remove such links without thinking twice.

enter image description here

  • It appears that @AndrewT did cover pretty much the same thing while I was drafting my answer 🙈. I didn't copy, I swear 👻. I am using Flamingo since long and start looking for the URL whenever I reset my phone because well, browsing through the Play Store "My Apps" section with over a thousand owned apps will take forever :) – singhnsk Mar 30 at 12:22
  • No worries, I'm glad you posted it as an answer with more detail including the distinction between "unpublished" and "removed" apps and a reference to it, compared to my only guess/speculation :) – Andrew T. Mar 30 at 12:47
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"NOT FOUND" means it is not active on Play store or by your country location. and if you want to download any app , try some mirrors like apkmonk, apkmirror, etc.

  • Would you please read the bounty note? I have explicitly mentioned what details an answer should have. Furthermore, please see How to Answer. – Firelord Mar 29 at 15:30
  • the details is always in answers and comments. – Mukund Mar 30 at 7:34

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