Android apps that users download and buy in the Google Play Store can only receive upgrades through the Google Play going forward.
The change, which only recently appeared as part of the Google Play Developer Content Policy makes it clear that using the Google Play store to initially distribute an application and then update itself, won’t be tolerated going forward:
“An app downloaded from Google Play may not modify, replace or update its APK binary code using any method other than Google Play’s update mechanism.”
APKs are the actual application file and code that are trigged whenever a user opens an application. It’s widely believed that this change in policy is a response to the way Facebook recently attempted to distribute updates through its own application resulting in freezing and reboots for some users. Facebook then compounded the issue by waiting to address it for three days, according to AndroidCentral.
In order to fix the issue, users needed to try downloading the Facebook application update while on a Wi-Fi network instead of their mobile data connection. The change in language could indicate that Facebook didn’t actually violate Google Play’s Developer Content Policy then –though if it attempts to do so again, it most certainly will be.
In actuality the problem extends from Android itself. Users can decide whether they would like to install applications that are available outside the Google Play Store. Only those users who had the option on experienced the Facebook’s updating issues.
As Android is open source and freely available to customize, it would violate the operating systems philosophy to not allow updates outside of Google Play. On the other hand locking Android devices to applications inside of Google Play would mean a more secure experience for an operating system that has seen a rise in security issues.
Even with this new rule in place, users can stil install applications from outside the Google Play Store.
According to reports by mobile security firm NQ, the number of Android devices that were infected with malware tripled to 32.8 million devices in 2013, up from 10.8 million the previous year.