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Google says it will make Android 12 friendlier to alternative app stores

Google has confirmed a story that Bloomberg first broke last week saying that by September 2021, all app developers and publishers selling digital products through the Play Store will be required to use Google’s own billing system.

The company says this is not done by the vast majority of existing developers, of which 97% do not sell digital goods. Of the 3% that sell digital products through their apps, 97% already comply with the states. Google is giving that small number of developers an additional grace period of the year to bring those apps in line with the company’s newly clarified Play Store billing guidelines.

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It is important to note that this clarification goes to the heart of what separates The Play Store from other application stores on Android: Play Store is fast, safe and easy to use, with a lot of tools at the disposal of developers for administration, billing , security and privacy. But in return, Google asks for a 30% cut.

But Google also recognizes that due to the open nature of Android, people can and will search for alternative app stores, from the Epic Games Store to F-Droid. That is in contrast to iOS, where Apple has expressly banned third-party app stores at all.

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Google says that starting with Android 12, it will make it easier for third-party app stores to coexist with the Google Play Store.

In response to those comments, we are making changes to Android 12 (next year’s version of Android) to make it even easier for people to use other app stores on their devices, taking care not to compromise Android security measures. has in place. We are designing all of this now and look forward to sharing more in the future!

While it’s unclear what those changes will look like, at this time the alternative app stores are subject to additional security checks and pop-up notifications that may disable some less experienced Android users. This was one of the central tenets of Epic’s argument against Google after it implemented first-party billing in Fortnite last month, kicking off a series of events that led to a lawsuit and Fortnite’s banning from the Play Store.

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Our policies apply equally to all applications distributed on Google Play, including Google’s own applications. We use the same standards to decide which apps to promote on Google Play, whether it’s third-party apps or our own apps. In fact, we regularly promote apps from Google’s competitors in our Editors Choice picks when they provide a great user experience. Likewise, our algorithms rank third-party apps and games using the same criteria as for Google’s own apps.

Developers are coming up with cool stuff all the time. Using your feedback, we are always trying to adjust our approach to ensure that we continue to help enable new forms of innovation. For example, recent innovations in game streaming have spawned new gaming experiences that are available on Google Play, including Microsoft’s recent launch of Xbox cloud games on the Xbox Game Pass Android app.