Google promised a forthcoming update to its Android operating system would make it easier for users to download apps from third party stores, as it announced plans to enforce a policy requiring developers to use its Play Store billing system.
In a blog, Google VP of product management Sameer Samat said Android “has always allowed people to get apps from multiple app stores”, adding “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”.
But in response to developer feedback he said Google will implement changes next year’s Android 12 release to further simplify access to alternative marketplaces “while being careful not to compromise the safety measures Android has in place”.
The comments came as Samat announced the company would enforce a policy requiring “all developers selling digital goods in their apps” to use its Google Play billing system: compliance is mandatory for all new apps launched from 20 January 2021, with existing apps given until 30 September 2021 to fall in line.
Samat argued the policy “isn’t new” and applies to less than 3 per cent of developers, the vast majority (97 per cent) of which already use Google Play billing.
He added Google allows developers to inform customers about “pricing, offers, and alternative ways to pay” outside Google Play so long as that communication takes place via email or another channel outside the app.
Google and Apple faced criticism of their app store policies recently, most notably from Fortnite-maker Epic Games, which filed lawsuits against both companies in a spat over billing.
Regulators in Australia added pressure earlier this month, launching a probe examining the mobile app marketplace.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back