The possible reasons Google is moving away from APKs on Android

Google has introduced it’s shifting away from the APK format for Android apps. Jack Wallen presents his opinion on why this may very well be occurring.

Android developer concept

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Google is all the time as much as one thing. Now, earlier than you leap to a relatively vital 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—not less than on the entrance of know-how. Name me Pollyanna or not, I need to give them the advantage of the doubt. And given how simple it’s for the courtroom of public opinion to unfold like a meme on a sluggish Friday, any firm as much as nefarious doings ought to perceive it is not a matter of if, however after 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 1 very specific place (one it tends to go to incessantly). 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 purposes. With Android, it is not all that arduous to seek out an APK file from any given web site and set up it in your cellphone. The issue with that is, you don’t have any manner of realizing if that file was vetted for safety. Ultimately, you could possibly have simply put in a bit of malware or ransomware in your cellphone, assuming that APK was simply an innocent-looking sport.

Too late.

And websites providing APKs are in all places. A few of them won’t have malicious intent in thoughts, however many do. Google is aware of this and so they’ve been battling it for years. As in my opinion, I recurrently 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 could be lifeless 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 wanting additional forward than that and its finish sport is to get rid of 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 are usually not going wherever. The truth is, they’re solely going to proceed rising and getting smarter than ever. Firms that produce, curate and distribute software program have been at a loss as to how you can cease ne’re-do-wells from doing what they do. If Google’s mindset is consistent with mine, then this transfer is a transparent checkmate towards those that got down to steal customers’ information and maintain their units for ransom.

And that might be an enormous step ahead. If Google have been to lastly get rid of the flexibility to side-load purposes, it will go a good 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 could be manner off the mark. However for Google to tug this off, with any measure of success, they are going to have to carry that Android Play Bundle format near the vest. The second the specs are launched for this new format, they’re going to 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 must also completely disable side-loading for each the previous and the brand new format.

SEE: Password-stealing spyware and adware targets Android customers within the UK (TechRepublic)

This may ruffle the feathers of some builders and firms, 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 possibility: the one that provides them even the slightest assure of safety. If the safety of end-users and customers doesn’t come first, then you definately’re going in regards to the enterprise of enterprise all unsuitable.

The caveat to the caveat

This is the factor: There’ll all the time be a sure consumer sort who installs different ROMs on their Android units. This could all the time be a risk for many who select. And Google ought to honor that group going ahead. Regardless that the Android Play Bundle would be the default format shifting ahead, the corporate ought to permit APKs for different ROMs. So, this 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 may 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 defend customers.
  • 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 state of affairs is just going to get far worse. Until Google does one thing now, Android may turn out to be a veritable playground for hackers and thieves. This migration to Android Play Bundles may go an extended technique 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 pace and measurement 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 customers.

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