Google is taking advantage of the media turmoil around Apple to announce better support for third-party app stores in Android 12.
While the Play Store is the main platform for downloading Android apps, several other app stores are also available. This is the case, for example, with the Amazon App Store, the Samsung Galaxy Store or even the Huawei AppGallery. For the next major version of Android, scheduled for 2021, these alternatives to the Play Store will be easier to access for developers and publishers of apps.
An opening speech
In a blog post, Sameer Samat, vice president for Android and Google Play, explains that Google has decided to implement some major changes following discussions with developers in its community.
As Google points out, many smartphone models now come with different download platforms by default. This is for example the case with Samsung or Huawei. For the developer this means that if he does not agree with the commission requested by Google through the Play Store, he can still distribute his application on Android through another platform. Google thus states:
We believe that developers should be able to choose how they can distribute their apps (…) choice has always been at the heart of the Android system and that's why consumers have always had control over apps. that they use, whether it's their keyboard, their messaging app, their phone or their app store.
It is interesting to note that Google chooses to make these words precisely a few days after the formation of a group called Coalition App for Fairness. This group brings together several publishers pointing to Apple's economic model with the App Store. Recently, Facebook said it has made several requests to Apple for the ability to configure its default messaging apps on iOS instead of iMessage. So it looks like Google doesn't want to be put in the same basket as Apple, while hushing up recent revelations about its intentions to toughen up its commission app for in-app purchases in the Play Store.
A promise for Android 12
However, installing a third-party platform remains an unusual practice. It must be said that downloads outside the Play Store are blocked by default as a security measure. Several app stores that do not have Google's security tools actually host corrupt, hacked, or obsolete files.
Google explains that developers want to see better integration of third-party stores. The company promises changes for the next major edition of Android in version 12. This one "Will allow people to use other app stores on their devices without compromising the security rules in place within Android." Sameer Samat did not expand on the subject, but promises that information will be shared on this device later.
Clarification of payment rules for publishers
Google has updated its terms for developers wishing to monetize their apps on Android. "We were told that the terms of our policy could be clearer, particularly on the type of transaction that should use the Google Play payment system", Sameer Samat says.
This new version is available on this page and will come into effect on January 20, 2021. The company explains that of the 3% of applications offering an in-app purchase, 97% already comply with the rules. Other developers and publishers have one year to comply with the changes.