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On Android 12, Google says that using 3rd party app stores will be “easier”

In case you haven’t kept up with the fiasco that is the Epic Games vs Apple discussion, the big point of contention is the game developers’ use of their own in-app payment system—a violation of the App Store’s policies. The same also applied to the Google Play Store, although the ability to sideload apps on Android provided to be a significant difference for users.

However, Google has been talking about a couple of changes to its developer policies for Android 12 that address this. According to Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management at Google, Android 12 will make it “even easier” for users to use 3rd party app stores—while promising that the safety of users will not be compromised.

“This openness means that even if a developer and Google do not agree on business terms the developer can still distribute on the Android platform. This is why Fortnite, for example, is available directly from Epic’s store or from other app stores including Samsung’s Galaxy App store.”

Details on these changes haven’t been revealed just yet. However, from what Samat says, Google isn’t letting up on in-app payments for apps on the company’s Play Store. This is a requirement for developers who offer in-app purchases of digital goods, with Google picking up a service fee in the process.

Instead, the Search Engine giants have clarified their billing policies, saying that the service fee only applies to developers who charge a fee—either to download the app, or to make in-app payments.

“We want to be sure our policies are clear and up to date so they can be applied consistently and fairly to all developers, and so we have clarified the language in our Payments Policy to be more explicit that all developers selling digital goods in their apps are required to use Google Play’s billing system.”

Currently, less than three percent of developers with apps on Google Play are subject to this, and of this percentage, 97 percent of apps already integrate Google’s billing method. Those who have yet to do so have until 30 September 2021 to update their apps.

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For now, Google hasn’t really explained how accessing 3rd party app stores is going to be easier on Android 12. It’s already fairly straightforward, particularly if you’re familiar with the Android OS. In contrast, iOS doesn’t allow users to install apps from 3rd party sources, unless you do something that infringes upon your warranty (such as jail-breaking your iPhone).

For the full post from Google, click here.

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