Google Play Store is modifying its rules regarding apps having the permission to install APK files on a phone

In the past, Google’s policy mostly allowed apps on the Play Store to install third-party apps from other app stores, as long as there wasn’t any malware involved and the user granted the app the permission to do so. However, with the new April 2022 Developer Program Policy update, the change regarding this policy has taken place. Now apps will only be allowed to install APKs if it’s part of their core functionality and an absolute necessity.

For example, apps like web browsers and folders/file managers need the consent of the user for installing APKs. Contrastingly, apps such as games and media players etc. don’t require this functionality. The Android OS contains a permission named the REQUEST_INSTALL_PACKAGES which allows apps to bring up a prompt to ask the user for permission to install an APK. All apps using this specific permission will be affected and likewise, the apps which do not include this permission would not be affected. App developers are advised to check if any third-party libraries included with their apps don’t have this permission to avoid being affected by the new policy.

It’s still unclear why Google has decided to affirm these rules. Some predict that it’s because of malign tactics of ad networks trying to install APKs on your device outside the bounds of the Play Store. Some apps that are excluded from this policy updates are web browsers, communication services, file sharing and enterprise management apps.
Apps affected by this update are also not allowed to update, modify and bundle APKs that they might’ve installed prior to the update. From now on, apps must also have a proper description mentioning the additional installation of APKs and explanation of why it needs to install them.

Google’s new policy is set to take place on August 11, 2022 but it’s still unclear how strictly these rules will be enforced and if there will be a complete ban on apps that don’t adhere to the new rules. Developers will have to watch out for that and more news concerning this update to avoid any sorts of complications.

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