A APK Mod / Mod APK is an Android app, rather an Android application package, that has been tampered with, manipulated, changed, modified, modded, hacked to include advanced features, change features or remove features. – APK modding is a very popular game hacking method for Android mobile games used by mobile game cheaters around the globe and is the most popular kind of cheat available for Android games. However, modified APKs are also used for many other purposes outside of gaming. - Video version of the Article.
How it works
The process of modifying APKs is an extremely complex issue that is hard to do justice, but we shall try to none the less: Android applications, including games, are programmed in Java (source code) and are then compiled into an executable APK file.
While the APK file contains all data required to operate correctly (compiled code, Resources, signature, manifest, etc.), it does not contain the whole source code and certainly not in a way that could be inspected and edited due to the compilation process. So people that are looking to Mod APK files do not have the luxury of working with the original source code, which makes it necessary to reverse-engineer some of it to modify the app successfully.
Using different tools, such as APKtool, jadx-gui, dex2jar, byetecode viewer and others, the APK is decompiled into ‘smali’ code. Samli, and this will get a bit too technical, is a low-level programming language. Imagine high-level being what humans understand and low-level what computers understand, which makes it extremely difficult to successfully understand and modify, as it is not really meant for programming.
After decompiling the APK modification process continues with analysis, trying to understand the underlying source and then modifying. While only extremely advanced and experienced individuals, not to mention the raw IQ needed to do such things, can successfully perform advanced APK modification, it can be done and is being done to remove ads, unlock features, enable chats and more features in all kinds of Android mobile apps. – In the end the APK is recompiled and sometimes OBB files need to be generated in order for the app / game to work correctly. OBB files being another data packet separate from the APK that the play store uses in order to run the game correctly.
Legal: Are APK mods illegal?
As always, law is jurisdiction and case based, but generally using mods is legal, but selling mods is illegal. No matter how much of any Android app you modify and change, there will always be original intellectual property and code in the app, meaning that if you sell access to the Mod, you are selling someone else’s product, which is akin to selling counterfeit goods and is not legal.
Using APK Mods on the other hand is not illegal in any jurisdiction we are aware of with the possible exception of South Korea where cheating in online games is illegal. All you are basically doing in that case is modifying code on a device that you own and control. So far law does not permit software developers to legally pursue people modifying their own devices and code on those devices. Problems only arise, legally speaking, once you start messing with devices that are not your own.
Downloading of mods is also legal is most places and most circumstances, but uploading may be classified as piracy. Especially is a file is a paid app and the Mod allows users to use the app for free. Downloading paid apps should be avoided, since it can be classified as piracy as well.
Game Hacking using APK Mods
While modded APKs are certainly used for other purposes, the most infamous use of APK Mods and certainly the one that they are most known for is cheating in mobile games: Here modified game clients are used to enable client-side chats, such as Aimbots, Wallhacks, ESP, VAC, physics hacks, speedhacks, automated farming Bots, scripts, improved aim assist, skins hacks, all kinds of explointing and much more. – The only limit of what hacked APKs can do in terms of game cheating is what data and information is processed client-side, meaning on a players Android gaming device, and therefore can be accessed and manipulated by a Mod.
So for example in any live service game using online servers for transactions and save game storage, aim Bots may be possible features in a APK Mod Menu, but Money cheats for unlimited Gems, free in-app Purchases and God Mode cheats will be impossible due to vital account data being stored server-side on the game servers controlled by the game developers.
Fake and impossible APK Mods
When browsing the internet for modded APKs, especially when it comes to Android games, one will find a lot of download sites, most of them are specialized in offering fake Mods that offer impossible features, such as Unlimited Money or Gems in online Android games. The reason why such untrustworthy actors are doing this is because the impossible app features will always sound good and have people click their results.
Of course Google and other big tech companies have no clue about the differences between online and offline games and what data is likely to be server-side processed and therefore what cheats are possible or impossible in any specific game app. – So most of the results you will get when looking for Game Hacks and mods for Android games in any given search engine will be Scams, fakes and sometimes even blatant Malware. Overall, we do recommend that you use HackerBot when looking for Mod APKs, as it allows you to limit your search to sites that have a clean track record of caring about customers and providing clean and safe downloads for a long time. See our article on Server vs client-side processing to learn more about what exact Game Hacks are possible or impossible in any given game.
Most Common APK Mod Features
Here is a rundown of some of the most common features included in hacked APKs:
- Removed Ads
- Mod Menus for cheating / customization
- Unlocked app features
- Speed mods / speedhacks
- Aimbots / Wallhacks for shooters
- Emulator support for the App
- Improved aim assist features in shooters
- ESP / VAC for displaying invisible information
- Script functionality for automated actions
- Support for private or custom Server connections
Sources / References