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This will end well: Facebook will let you download Android apps via ads

Do you trust Meta to run an Android app store via Facebook?
By
June 30, 2023
Facebook app on phone 3
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Meta will allow European users to directly download Android apps via Facebook ads.
  • The company will start a pilot program later this year with a selection of developers.
  • There are a few reasons why we’re skeptical of Android apps being hosted on Facebook.

Meta already owns the world’s largest social network in Facebook, along with juggernauts like WhatsApp, Oculus, and Instagram. Now, it looks like the company wants to get in on the app store action.

The Verge reports that Meta is working on plans to let users in the EU download Android apps via ads on Facebook. The outlet asserts that this pilot program will kick off later this year with a handful of developers.

It’s believed that Meta is taking this approach due to the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which effectively forces Apple and Google to allow alternative app stores on their mobile platforms.

Meta reportedly claims that app developers who host their apps on Facebook will see higher conversion rates for their ads than ads linking to the Play Store. It’s also believed Meta won’t take a cut of in-app purchases via this route for now. Presumably, the company will take its pound of flesh if a ton of developers sign up and the solution proves popular among users.

The last app store we’d trust?

In saying so, we’re not sure Meta’s solution is a slam-dunk for users. For one, we’re not sure that an ad linking to the Play Store is a real annoyance for consumers in the first place. The process is almost seamless on smartphones, as you can install the app via the Play Store and then swipe back to Facebook.

Another concern is that people might fall for dangerous apps masquerading as established names in these ads once the company opens up this feature to all. After all, there’s no shortage of people who have fallen victim to misinformation on the platform in the first place.

Would you download apps directly from Facebook?

230 votes

The Facebook Android app is also capable of bypassing the Play Store to quietly update itself, so we wonder whether apps installed via Facebook ads would have similar capabilities. That could be a problem if a developer decides to make unwanted changes to the app, or if a previously legitimate app gets sold to a shady party.

It’s also worth noting that the Play Store has several privacy and security features in place. This includes Google Play Protect for detecting malware, a list of data collected by a given app, and a list of security measures for each app. Several other third-party app stores also have privacy and security measures in place, but there’s no word on Meta’s features in this regard.