The antitrust lawsuit brewing between Epic Games and Apple over the company’s control of the App Store, which is native to iOS and the app ecosystem within it, is coming to a close; Google has come out and explained its plans to provide better support for third-party app stores with Android 12, which was unveiled as part of the company’s Google I/O event.
In an earlier instance in 2020, Google had responded to claims that were made by Epic Games over how the Play Store and iOS caused issues for third-party app stores by making the point that its upcoming version of Android would contain better support for app stores that do not ship natively with a device, one of the prime examples being the Epic Games Store.
What Is Google Going To Do?
The company has now explained how it intends to implement better support within its developer documentation, first spotted by XDA. In a bid to support third-party stores, Android 12 has made changes to the REQUEST_INSTALL_PACKAGES permission, which is used by all kinds of apps that wish to install another Android Application Package (APK) such as a file manager or a browser.
With the changes that will be made to the permission, app stores will be able to install applications just like the Play Store. As of today, users who download applications from third-party stores must first allow the store to “request the installation of packages”, followed by manual confirmation of the installation of each package. This is meant as a security measure to prevent malicious stores from installing applications without the knowledge of the user.
With Android 12, third party apps will be able to make use of a new method dubbed setRequireUserAction, which will allow them to automatically install desired applications.
Do note that for proper usage, Google has added some security measures. Any app store that wishes to make use of this method will need Android 10 or higher, followed by request for the new UPDATE_PACKAGES_WITHOUT_USER_ACTION permission.
Additionally, they will be able to automatically update themselves or install updates to a specific package that was originally installed. It is easy to see how this system could be misused, especially considering how APK Pure infected devices running older versions of Android with trojans.
Overall, this addition seems to be Google’s attempt to try and make amends with Epic Games, but it still remains to be seen how these stores will work with the next version of Android, with initial impressions hinting at an easier way of installing third-party apps.
Shloke is your go-to guy when it comes to consumer tech. Specializing in In-Depth pieces, he's also getting to grips with Telecom. His hobbies consist of Formula One and Gaming.