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Here's how sideloading (and more) will change after Google's settlement

Sideloading app is already pretty easy on Android, but here's how it'll get easier.

Published onDecember 19, 2023

Google Play Store January 2023
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
  • Google has revealed settlement terms following a lawsuit brought against it by US states.
  • The company will simplify app sideloading and expand alternative billing as part of the terms.
  • The search giant will also pay about $700 million into a fund for users and states.

Google settled a lawsuit in September between itself and over 30 US states regarding its Play Store and Android practices. The terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed at the time, but the company has now revealed them.

Google confirmed on its blog that it would make sideloading apps easier on Android. It would also update the language used to warn users about potential risks. 

We asked Google about these changes and the company told Android Authority that two “flow” screens will be combined into one.

The search colossus also told us that it could use the following language or a “substantial” equivalent:

Your phone currently isn’t configured to install apps from this source. Granting this source permission to install apps could place your phone and data at risk.

Google currently offers a pop-up menu when you attempt to sideload an app via another app (e.g. Chrome, Files). This menu doesn’t directly let you enable sideloading, instead featuring a “settings” button that takes you to a second screen where you can enable sideloading. So it seems like these two screens will be consolidated, which should make for a more user-friendly experience. 

Alternative billing and other settlement terms

Easier sideloading isn’t the only term in the settlement. The company also confirmed that it would now offer alternative billing options in the Play Store for in-app purchases. It’ll allow developers to show different price options within the app too (e.g. offers via the developer’s website or a third-party app store).

Google reiterated that it had been piloting alternative billing in the US for over a year. However, it’s worth noting that this pilot along with alternative billing in other markets came after a wave of pressure from regulators and politicians.

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Third-party app stores have long been available via Android devices, and Google said it’s always allowed these Play Store alternatives to be preloaded on devices.

“The settlement with the attorneys general makes clear that OEMs can continue to provide users with options out of the box to use Play or another app store,” the company asserted on its blog. It also highlighted changes in Android 14 to improve functionality for third-party app stores.

Finally, Google confirmed that it would be paying roughly $700 million as part of the settlement. The company says $630 million will be paid into a settlement fund for consumers while $70 million will be paid into a fund for the states.

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