Sideloaded Applications Are Changing on Android Phones

If there’s ever been one key difference between Android and iPhone, it’s that iPhones don’t allow sideloading at all, while Android devices can easily install apps from outside the Google Play Store. Now, in the face of growing scrutiny regarding sideloading and a a settlement related to the highly publicized Epic Games v. Google lawsuit, Google is making sideloaded applications more accessible.

Google has agreed to pay $700 million in a settlement with the U.S. attorney general. In addition to this, the settlement includes several changes that Google will implement, effective from the settlement date.

Google has comitted to supporting Android app installs outside of Google Play, including from third-party app stores for (at least) seven years. This doesn’t necessarily mean that sideloading will disappear after those seven years, but it’s what Google is committing to legally for now. Developers also won’t be compelled to launch apps simultaneously on Google Play, nor can Google enter agreements for prioritized releases. For four years, third-party companies can use APIs for automatic app updates, employ “split features” for on-demand downloads, and implement a consent mechanism to prevent updates during app use. Unless the user prefers to use the Google Play Store for that, third-party app stores and preinstalled apps will also be able to maintain exclusive rights to update apps as well.

Concerning alternative billing, Google must permit developers to offer other billing mechanisms for in-app purchases for five years. Developers can provide discounts to promote alternative billing systems, and they can also display information about other purchasing options for six years without links.

Google also can’t establish exclusive app store deals with phone makers for five years. Device makers won’t need Google’s consent to preload third-party app stores for five years. Google must also grant preloaded app installer rights for four years.

The measures we’ve detailed above are just some of the ones Google is taking, and if you want to know more about what’s happening, check out Google’s blog post at the source link below. The gist of it, however, is that for the foreseeable future, sideloading will remain a staple of Android and Google will be taking steps to protect it further, which is something we’re sure a lot of you are glad to hear.

Source: TechCrunch, Google


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