Google Play Store is one of the most comprehensive sources out there for Android apps, one has to rely on other sources for their app needs. Thankfully, Google doesn’t block you from installing apps via third-party outlets, but it’s a double-edged sword as it opens the door to a ton of security problems. There are a multitude of reasons why someone would download an app from an unofficial source, ranging from regional restrictions to piracy.
In a bid to combat piracy, Google has expanded on their existing security measures by adding small security metadata on top of developer’s uploaded APKs in the Play Store. This will make sure that the application is distributed from Play Store. According to their blog post:
In the future, for apps obtained through Play-approved distribution channels, we’ll be able to determine app authenticity while a device is offline, add those shared apps to a user’s Play Library, and manage app updates when the device comes back online. This will give people more confidence when using Play-approved peer-to-peer sharing apps.
Another reason why the new measure was implemented was to enable peer-to-peer sharing in locations where mobile data is hard to get. The change will ensure that an app downloaded via P2P is indeed from the Play Store and not anywhere else. The change is a godsend for developers, who can now rest easy knowing that a lack of mobile data won’t hinder potential users from downloading their app.
With the latest update, app authentication can now happen in offline mode as well. One will no longer need any kind of internet connection for making sure of an applications authenticity. The best part is, developers don’t need to do anything other than update the APK file. The new metadata will be integrated into the app itself and Google has adjusted the maximum app size to compensate for increased APK size.
Will this move deter people from pirating apps? Probably not. We’ll probably see a workaround for it hit the internet soon enough, as the battle between developers and pirates continues to rage on endlessly.