As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side… of the planet. Most of us have reached some level of angst when it’s come to getting our hands on the latest and greatest game/app for the iPhone and iPad only to learn that it’s not available in your own country (territory). What is a Disney fan to do? The reality is Apple makes it so incredibly simple to bypass this restriction, you just might kick yourself once you discover how it’s done.
Now in the interest of full disclosure, I discovered this method not because I was seeking a Disney app, but because I was dying to get my hands on Popcap’s ‘Plants vs Zombies 2’ which has been released only in Australia and New Zealand so far in order to work out bugs before releasing it worldwide. That said, this technique has proven to be so simple and reliable that I did manage to obtain one app that I jumped through hoops to download before to no avail: the newsstand edition of Disneyfan magazine, available exclusively in Japan.
If you aren’t familiar with Disneyfan, it’s everything the Japanese love combined with Disney (which they also love, conveniently enough). It’s a monthly periodical — mostly full color — consisting of well over 100 pages, all dedicated to the world of Disney: movies, food, theme parks, merchandise, food, merchandise, merchandise and food. While it can be found in the United States online or in person at some Japanese bookstore/importers (I have purchased several copies in person at Kinokuniya in New York City), it’s usually at least twice the cost of the newsstand version. So when I learned that Japan was introducing a newsstand version of it earlier this year, I was ecstatic — that is, until I tried to actually get it.
THE WRONG WAY
Once I realized Disneyfan could only be purchased through the Japan app store and Apple restricts you to your own country, I searched far and wide for a way around it. What I found was a complicated method for acquiring the app by creating a new Apple ID/iTunes account for Japan with no method of payment (even if Apple accepts Visa/Mastercard for other countries, it requires the billing address to be within that country). I was then able to download the app and somehow finagle its way onto my iPhone (I might have even had to use the iPhone Configuration Utility to transfer the downloaded app). Success!, I thought. Until I tried to actually purchase the current issue of Disneyfan using in-app purchase. Not only did it not work because I had no payment method on file, when I wisely tried to switch to my US-based account, it wouldn’t let me even access the app because it was licensed to my Japanese account. And the worst part? The app is entirely in Japanese, so I could only guess as to why I couldn’t get the magazine (which is in Japanese as well, but the words only distract from the photos anyway). Foiled.
THE RIGHT WAY
Fast forward to today. Since then, not only has Japan continued to publish Disneyfan on newsstand, but Disney has actually released an app exclusively in Australia called ‘My Muppets Show‘ which lets you collect (reunite) over twenty Muppets and produce your own version of the show. And, of course, there’s that little matter of ‘Plants vs Zombies 2’ which is exactly how I learned how to do the impossible (which really is fun).
So the issue is that Apple says if you live in the United States, you can only download apps from the US app store. That’s what Apple says. And guess who told Apple where you live? You did. So all you have to do is tell Apple you live in another country and within five minutes time, you’ll have any* app from anywhere in the world.
To do so, launch iTunes and sign in if you aren’t already. In the Store menu, select ‘View my Apple ID.’ Fill out your ID/password and click on ‘View My Account.’ From there you can click on ‘Change Country or Region.’ You’ll be prompted for your country/region (for Disneyfan, Japan (it all remains in English), for PvZ2 or ‘My Muppets Show’ choose Australia). Click continue and accept the agreement. Select NONE for your payment method and fill out your address accordingly (you’ll have to massage it to fit into your desired country, but Apple will even clue you in on how things should be formatted) and that’s just about it! Apple will then automatically take you to the appropriate store where you can browse and download free apps (since you have no billing method) and then transfer them to your iPhone or iPad. When you’re done, just repeat the process, re-selecting United States (or your country of origin). You’ll have to re-supply your billing method for real if you wish to purchase apps in the future or make in-app purchases.
So what’s different about the right method? Everything. First, you are licensing the free app to the same account you normally use which makes it far less awkward. Second (and this is the best part), in-app purchases work! Even though the app isn’t available inside your own country, you can still make in-app purchases, which is how I was able to purchase the current edition of Disneyfan for just $8.40 (prices are even presented in US dollars though the app says $7.99 — foreign transaction fees?).
All that said, Disneyfan and ‘My Muppets Show’ are the only Disney apps offhand that I know of that this would apply to, but there could be more. If you know of any, please help out by letting us know either by adding a comment, or contacting us via our contact link at the top of the page. In fact, this technique may prove to be far more beneficial to those who live outside the United States.
Note that all the information presented here is for entertainment purposes only (literally and legally). We can certainly make no guarantees as to your successes or failures from attempting anything suggested here.