How do I free up my phone for more games?
February 12, 2015 1:14 AM   Subscribe

I love puzzle games, like The Room, Room 2, Monument Valley, Tiny Bang Theory, Botanicula, all those kinds of things (I have, in fact, gotten many recommendations from others' previous AskMes). The thing is, these games all add up memory-wise. I have finished them once, but know that I will enjoy returning to them in the future after I've forgotten some of the bits. How do I move them somewhere else to free up memory in the meantime? Or can I just delete them and download them again later?

I have tried searching online and on previous AskMes but I don't think I am getting the language right, because I keep finding answers about backing up saved games. I don't actually care about the saved games because the point is someday I will want to play them over again from the beginning.

My smartphone (Android, Sony Xperia Z3 compact) is still reasonably new for me and it is my first smartphone. I have tried plugging it into my desktop but can't really see a directory for apps that I could backup to my hard drive or something. My games are a mixture of free and paid games that I bought from the Google Play store; most of the ones I care about are the paid ones.
posted by Athanassiel to Technology (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Your Google Play purchases are tied to your account; you should be able to freely re-download anything you've purchased (at least to the same phone; not sure about others, but I believe that works too?)
posted by NMcCoy at 1:16 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Most Google Play purchases (maybe all - I've never found it not to be the case) can be reinstalled as many times as you like, on as many devices as you link to your account. I've installed games on at least 4 devices (multiple times) without any issue.

There are ways to selectively back up data from your phone, including individual apps/games, but I found it to be rather fiddly when I tried it, so I just uninstall/reinstall. Sometimes that means losing any saved score or progress, but I find I usually just want to start from the beginning anyway.
posted by pipeski at 1:38 AM on February 12, 2015

I don't have a solution, but i can tell you what NOT to do. Don't try and app2sd type of trick to just move them to an SD card. You need to unlock the bootloader to do that since you need to root, which screws up the camera on the sony phones(see here, among a million other places).

As others said, you should be able to re-download any purchases from the play store later.
posted by emptythought at 1:56 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some apps have inbuilt support for moving to the SD card. You can test this by putting an SD card into the phone and then looking at the app's details. If the "move to SD card" button is enabled, you'll be able to move without rooting. Note that only some apps have this functionality.

I've used the same Google account on three separate devices in the past (not simultaneously, I don't think) without a problem with downloading/reinstalling apps.
posted by Solomon at 2:17 AM on February 12, 2015

Best answer: Definitively,
When you download a paid or free app on Google Play, the app is connected to your Google Account. This means you can reinstall downloaded apps to new or reset devices without purchasing them again.
From Reinstall apps & games - Google Play Help.

As long as you continue to use the same Google Account, you're golden.
posted by books for weapons at 3:28 AM on February 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

The others reporting in this thread are correct. Google Play remembers what you've purchased in the past, and allows you to redownload anything you've previously purchased before for free. Your purchases are tired to your Google account. Some makers of tablets and phones supply alternate app stores, maybe with different account systems, but they pretty much all follow the principle that, once you've got it, you can always get it again.
posted by JHarris at 4:48 AM on February 12, 2015

JHarris: "Some makers of tablets and phones supply alternate app stores, maybe with different account systems, but they pretty much all follow the principle that, once you've got it, you can always get it again."

Yes. Apple's App Store works the same way, as an example.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:33 AM on February 12, 2015

Best answer: As others have said, you can always re-download the apps from Google Play again in the future.

If you really want to it is possible to copy the the app itself off an Android phone: You have to turn on developer mode, & activate the android debug bridge, then you can use the command line to copy the .apk files over to a laptop or PC. You'll have to install the relevant binary tools on your host computer (specifically adb). Once you've done that & turned on adb on your phone the commands you want are:
adb shell pm list packages
adb shell pm path com.example.someapp
adb pull  "whatever path it was you got from the previous command"
And then at a later date you can re-install the apk with
adb install app.apk
Paid Google Apps have DRM which prevents them from running on an unauthorised phone though - you can't use this to copy a game from one phone to someone else's without breaking the DRM.
posted by pharm at 6:41 AM on February 12, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks all, I appreciate all the help! Elephant stamps all round!
posted by Athanassiel at 6:00 PM on February 12, 2015

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