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Here's how Android 12 will make alternative app stores easier to use

Third-party stores could gain functionality similar to the Play Store in the future.

Published onMay 20, 2021

android 12 alternative app stores fdroid 1
Andy Walker / Android Authority
  • Android 12 should be more user-friendly for those who use third-party app stores and installers.
  • A new set of criteria, discovered in Android 12’s developer notes, will allow app stores to install or update apps without user intervention.

Android allows users to install apps from alternative app stores, but it never made the process easy. By design, Google Play Store has been the staple for those installing new apps or hunting for updates. But this could change in Android 12.

According to developer documentation discovered by XDA-Developers, Android 12 will make installing apps a little more seamless.

Under certain conditions, alternative app stores will not need manual user interaction to install or update apps on Android 12. Currently, updating an app from a source beyond the Play Store requires users first to confirm the action. The new system means installing apps from alternative sources on Android 12 should feel akin to the Play Store.

What Google requires from alternative app stores

The feature may appear like a pretty large security loophole on Android 12. But Google has laid out a strict set of conditions required for app stores to use the system. For starters, stores will have to opt into this behavior and target Android 10 or newer. The functionality will only be available if an alternative app store updates itself or updates an app it initially installed. The UPDATE_PACKAGES_WITHOUT_USER_ACTION permission will also need to be held by the store.

Do you use a third-party app store on your phone?

398 votes

It’s good news for developers posting to alternative app stores and users alike. The functionality should make it easier to install and update games with dedicated third-party launchers or app repositories hosting apps not hosted on the Play Store.

What do you think of the change? Do you use a third-party app store on your phone? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to vote in our poll above.

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