Extending protection against unauthorised use of applications, stewards of the Google-backed Android mobile platform Tuesday unveiled a licensing service for applications in the Android Market.

The free service provides a secure mechanism to manage access to Android Market paid applications targeting Android 1.5 or higher, said Eric Chu, of the Android Developer Ecosystem, in a post on the Android Developers Blog. "At run time, with the inclusion of a set of libraries provided by us, your application can query the Android Market licensing server to determine the licence status of your users. It returns information on whether your users are authorised to use the app based on stored sales records," Chu said.

The service operating in real time provides more flexibility in choosing licence enforcement strategies as well as a more secure approach to protecting applications from unauthorised use, he said. The intention is to replace the current Android Market copy protection mechanism with the licensing service during the next few months.