Google has introduced it’s transferring away from the APK format for Android apps. Jack Wallen presents his opinion on why this could possibly be taking place.

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Google is at all times as much as one thing. Now, earlier than you leap to a somewhat important conclusion, let me make myself clear: I do not imagine Google is at all times as much as one thing of a nefarious nature. I’m of the opinion that almost all of what Google does is constructive—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 transferring 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 continuously). Stated 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 seek out an APK file from any given web site and set up it in your cellphone. The issue with that is, you haven’t any means of understanding if that file was vetted for safety. Ultimately, you might have simply put in a bit of malware or ransomware in your cellphone, assuming that APK was simply an innocent-looking recreation.

Too late.

And websites providing APKs are all over the place. 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 personally, I commonly 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 is likely to be useless within the close to future.

Say huh?

That is proper. Google has formally introduced it’s transferring 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 should 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 enable Android APKs to run on Home windows 11. Though that is tempting fodder for the media cannon, I do not purchase it. I believe 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 usually are not going wherever. In reality, they’re solely going to proceed rising and getting smarter than ever. Corporations 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 according to mine, then this transfer is a transparent checkmate in opposition to those that got down to steal customers’ knowledge and maintain their gadgets for ransom.

And that will be an enormous step ahead. If Google had been to lastly eliminate the flexibility to side-load functions, 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 is likely to be means 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 all over the place. 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.

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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 offers 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 improper.

The caveat to the caveat

This is the factor: There’ll at all times be a sure consumer kind who installs various ROMs on their Android gadgets. This could at all times be a chance for individuals who select. And Google ought to honor that group going ahead. Regardless that the Android Play Bundle would be the default format transferring ahead, the corporate ought to enable APKs for various ROMs. So, here is how I see it enjoying 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 customers.
  • Placate those that need to use unofficial ROMs.

I believe that is the most suitable 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. Except Google does one thing now, Android might turn out to be a veritable playground for hackers and thieves. This migration to Android Play Bundles might go a protracted solution to head that off… if Google performs its playing cards proper.

However once more, that is solely conjecture on my half. Google might 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 customers.

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