Google has announced its plan to relax its developer policies to simplify the use of Android third-party app store in next year’s Android 12 update. This comes after recent concerns about monopolies and unfair pricing for app developers, especially with in-app payment systems.
Nearly all small businesses have felt the ill effects of COVID-19 on their profit margin. Android app developers are only the latest group to receive the short end of the stick.
This announcement also comes amidst the recent allegations against Apple. Developers claim it has intentionally thwarted competition with its 30percent fee for all digital goods sold on the app store. Most apps on the platform do not sell goods, but many of those that do have banded together in an effort to curtail Apple’s monopoly. They formed a group known as the “Coalition for App Fairness.”
These developers include Spotify, Epic Games, Protonmail and more. Epic Games, maker of the popular game “Fortnite,” has initiated a lawsuit against Apple. It hopes the lawsuit will end in a policy-deciding victory against Apple’s App Store as well as Google Play. It is now only available through third-party app stores and Epic’s website.
The popular game “Fortnite” was taken off both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store after it introduced its own alternative payment system. The system bypassed the sharp fees required for purchase of in-app digital goods.
Epic Games’ request isn’t as unusual a request as some might think. Most economies have anti-monopoly laws to keep any one company from becoming too powerful. Many smaller companies see this as a way to force larger companies to play by the rules.
Third-party app store use in Android 12
Google’s new announcement may be seen as a move to show solidarity with these developers, and to help draw more developers to its platform. It highlights Google’s openness to allow users to download apps from a variety of sources.
Currently, there is very little popular use of third-party app stores on Android. The closest competitor to Google Play is Samsung’s app store, and that is device-specific. Other app stores for Android, such as the free and open source app repository F-Droid, have failed to be adopted by the broader public.
Hopefully, the Android 12 update will make the process of using third-party app stores easier, safer, and more straightforward for your average end user. Google plans to release more details on these changes in the near future.