The potential causes Google is shifting away from APKs on Android

Google has introduced it’s shifting away from the APK format for Android apps. Jack Wallen provides his opinion on why this could possibly be occurring.

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Google is all the time as much as one thing. Now, earlier than you soar to a somewhat important conclusion, let me make myself clear: I do not imagine Google is all the time as much as one thing of a nefarious nature. I’m of the opinion that almost all of what Google does is optimistic—at the least on the entrance of know-how. Name me Pollyanna or not, I need to give them the good thing about the doubt. And given how simple it’s for the courtroom of public opinion to unfold like a meme on a gradual Friday, any firm as much as nefarious doings ought to perceive it is not a matter of if, however once they get caught.

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So when it was introduced that Google was shifting away from APKs on Android, in favor of Android Play Bundles, my thoughts went to at least one very specific place (one it tends to go to continuously). Mentioned place is safety. 

Hear me out earlier than you roll your eyes or choose me (or each). 

One of many points I have been harping on for years is sideloading functions. With Android, it is not all that onerous to search out an APK file from any given web site and set up it in your telephone. The issue with that is, you don’t have any means of figuring out if that file was vetted for safety. In the long run, you may have simply put in a bit of malware or ransomware in your telephone, assuming that APK was simply an innocent-looking recreation.

Too late.

And websites providing APKs are in all places. A few of them may not have malicious intent in thoughts, however many do. Google is aware of this they usually’ve been battling it for years. As personally, I frequently come out to say, “Do not set up apps from wherever however the Google Play Retailer!” Many hear, whereas some don’t.

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If Google has something to say about this, the APK may be useless within the close to future.

Say huh?

That is proper. Google has formally introduced it’s shifting away from APKs to Android Play Bundles. They usually’ve solely given builders a month’s discover to make the shift. In fact, present apps on the Play Retailer are exempt from the change, however all new apps have to be submitted within the new format, else they will not be accepted.

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There was some hypothesis that this transfer was made after Microsoft introduced it will permit Android APKs to run on Home windows 11. Though that is tempting fodder for the media cannon, I do not purchase it. I feel Google is trying additional forward than that and its finish recreation is to eliminate APK recordsdata altogether. 

However why? What is the play right here? I imagine Google has lastly had it with side-loading and is making this shift to place an finish to it. That makes essentially the most sense as a result of the necessity for safety is at an all-time excessive. Malicious apps and assaults aren’t going wherever. Actually, they’re solely going to proceed growing and getting smarter than ever. Firms that produce, curate and distribute software program have been at a loss as to find out how to cease ne’re-do-wells from doing what they do. If Google’s mindset is in step with mine, then this transfer is a transparent checkmate in opposition to those that got down to steal customers’ knowledge and maintain their units for ransom.

And that may be an enormous step ahead. If Google have been to lastly eliminate the flexibility to side-load functions, it will go a great distance towards stopping customers from putting in malicious apps.

The caveat

Earlier than I proceed, perceive that is full conjecture on my half. I am drawing a conclusion that may be means off the mark. However for Google to tug this off, with any measure of success, they will have to carry that Android Play Bundle format near the vest. The second the specs are launched for this new format, they will discover side-loadable apps in all places. That’s the reason, as soon as they’ve formally made the shift to the brand new format (in August 2021), Google also needs to completely disable side-loading for each the previous and the brand new format.

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This would possibly ruffle the feathers of some builders and corporations, however the safety of the end-user should come first. Interval. And though it is nice to have choices, on this case end-users ought to solely have one choice: the one that provides them even the slightest assure of safety. If the safety of end-users and shoppers doesn’t come first, then you definately’re going concerning the enterprise of enterprise all fallacious.

The caveat to the caveat

This is the factor: There’ll all the time be a sure person sort who installs various ROMs on their Android units. This could all the time be a risk for individuals who select. And Google ought to honor that neighborhood going ahead. Despite the fact that the Android Play Bundle would be the default format shifting ahead, the corporate ought to permit APKs for various ROMs. So, here is how I see it taking part in out sooner or later (not instantly):

  • For official Android builds—Android Play Bundles would be the solely supported format, which might solely be discovered within the Google Play Retailer. 
  • For unofficial ROMs—Each APK and Android Play Bundles are supported.

The above would do two issues:

  • Higher shield shoppers.
  • Placate those that need to use unofficial ROMs.

I feel that is the best choice for Google. Anybody who’s bothered to look into the safety crystal balls is aware of the scenario is just going to get far worse. Except Google does one thing now, Android may develop into a veritable playground for hackers and thieves. This migration to Android Play Bundles may go a protracted option to head that off… if Google performs its playing cards proper.

However once more, that is solely conjecture on my half. Google could produce other causes for migrating away from APKs (like velocity and dimension of set up or stopping Home windows 11 from integrating with the Google Play Retailer). Solely time will inform, however I do hope this lands in favor of extra safety for shoppers.

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