Google Play is one of the best Android app distribution platforms around. It also has incredible reach what with it being installed on every Android device. Developers would be stupid not to be on Google Play, but some would prefer not to deliver app updates via Google’s service. Well, they can’t anymore.
Google recently updated its content policy for developers, and there’s an interesting new policy that’s aimed squarely at those developers who would seek to circumvent Google Play when delivering app updates:
An app downloaded from Google Play may not modify, replace or update its own APK binary code using any method other than Google Play’s update mechanism.
Surely this new policy won’t affect any major apps, right? Actually, Facebook introduced a self-updating mechanism in its Android app recently that bypasses Google Play entirely. With this new policy, Facebook will now have to go back to manual updates via Google Play.
Of course, this isn’t a case of Google picking on Facebook. Google says that its Play store is “trusted source for Android application downloads” and that it is “committed to providing a secure and consistent experience.” Allowing apps to update themselves could possibly lead to some less-than-secure scenarios as the initial download from Google Play would be safe while the in-app updater installs malware.
It should be noted that these new policies only affect apps available on Google Play. Former Google Play apps, like Adblock Plus, are completely free to use in-app updates.[h/t: Gizmodo]