4 months ago, Google announced that it would be “adding a small amount of security metadata on top of APKs to verify that the APK was distributed by Google Play. ”
That day has finally come.
3 days ago, the company announced, through its developer blog, the beginning of a test program that sees Google Play verifying the authenticity of apps and games shared by users with other users i.e. peer-to-peer app and game sharing.
Like I noted before, this is a practice that has been going on for like forever. For people like me, personally, when I used to get apps from friends and also share my apps and games with others, the motivation was simple: to save on the data I’d have used if I were to download them from the Google Play Store. There are also other reasons that lead to this like spotty network coverage.
While all the circumstances I have shared above make the case for why peer-to-peer app sharing has been there over the years, the key question we all ask ourselves is, are those apps and games secure?
That is the question Google is seeking to answer by taking charge of the process, as earlier announced in June.
Going forward, when one shares an app or a game with another user, as long as the app/game being shared was initially downloaded from the Play Store, Google will be able to track the shared app, even if the user/user’s device is offline and queue the said app or game for addition to the user’s Google Play library so that they can receive updates as well as benefit from regular security screenings done by Google Play Protect.
According to Google, this move helps developers reach a wider audience as their apps are readily accessible even by audiences they would previously not be able to reach because of some of the constraints listed above while for the users, it helps secure a process they are already accustomed to.
Google Play peer-to-peer app and game sharing is currently being trialed with users of SHAREit, Lenovo’s sharing app, but is also coming to popular app sharer Xender (formerly Flash Share) as well as Google’s own Files Go app.