Google outlaws Android app updates that don't come from its Play store

Summary:Doing what Facebook did in March will now considered a 'dangerous' act for Android developers. From now on, apps listed on the Play store can only be available through that channel.

Google has tightened the security screws on Android app developers, forbidding them to issue updates to apps available on Google Play outside of the store.

From now on, if an Android app is downloaded from the Google Play store, no updates can be issued to it through any other channel.

"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," says Google in a statement recently added to the 'dangerous products' section of its Google Developer Program Policies.

It's not certain exactly when or why Google added the new rule, however, its introduction comes after Facebook surprised some Android users in March by pushing a new beta build of the Facebook app to their devices outside of Google Play.

Users took to the social network's community pages to voice their disquiet over the move, questioning whether the "install new build" for Facebook could actually be malware. The update was legitimate and was seeking permission to install future updates without notifications, but Facebook never explained why it was attempting to issue it outside Google Play.

While Facebook had not breached Google's developer policies at the time, it will now have to limit itself to issuing new build updates through Google Play.

The new guidance only affects updates of apps originally downloaded through the Play store — Android owners will still be able to install apps outside Google’s official store, however.

Topics: Security, Mobility, Developer


Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, s... Full Bio

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