The possible reasons Google is moving away from APKs on Android

    Google has introduced it’s transferring away from the APK format for Android apps. Jack Wallen provides his opinion on why this may very well be taking place.

    Image: quietbits/Shutterstock
    Google is all the time as much as one thing. Now, earlier than you soar to a relatively vital conclusion, let me make myself clear: I do not consider Google is all the time as much as one thing of a nefarious nature. I’m of the opinion that almost all of what Google does is optimistic—at the very least on the entrance of know-how. Call me Pollyanna or not, I need to give them the good thing about the doubt. And given how simple it’s for the courtroom of public opinion to unfold like a meme on a gradual Friday, any firm as much as nefarious doings ought to perceive it isn’t a matter of if, however once they get caught.SEE: Hiring equipment: Android developer (TechRepublic Premium)

    So when it was introduced that Google was transferring away from APKs on Android, in favor of Android Play Bundles, my thoughts went to 1 very specific place (one it tends to go to ceaselessly). Said place is safety. Hear me out earlier than you roll your eyes or choose me (or each). 

    One of the problems I’ve been harping on for years is sideloading functions. With Android, it isn’t all that arduous to seek out an APK file from any given web site and set up it in your telephone. The drawback with that is, you don’t have any method of realizing if that file was vetted for safety. In the top, you possibly can have simply put in a bit of malware or ransomware in your telephone, assuming that APK was simply an innocent-looking recreation.Too late.And websites providing APKs are in all places. Some of them may not have malicious intent in thoughts, however many do. Google is aware of this they usually’ve been battling it for years. As in my opinion, I commonly come out to say, “Don’t install apps from anywhere but the Google Play Store!” Many hear, whereas some don’t.SEE: Electronic communication coverage (TechRepublic Premium)If Google has something to say about this, the APK is perhaps useless within the close to future.Say huh?That’s proper. Google has formally introduced it’s transferring away from APKs to Android Play Bundles. And they’ve solely given builders a month’s discover to make the shift. Of course, present apps on the Play Store are exempt from the change, however all new apps have to be submitted within the new format, else they will not be accepted.SEE: Samsung Galaxy S21 Series: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)There has been some hypothesis that this transfer was made after Microsoft introduced it could permit Android APKs to run on Windows 11. Although that is tempting fodder for the media cannon, I do not purchase it. I feel Google is wanting additional forward than that and its finish recreation is to get rid of APK information altogether. But why? What’s the play right here? I consider Google has lastly had it with side-loading and is making this shift to place an finish to it. That makes essentially the most sense as a result of the necessity for safety is at an all-time excessive. Malicious apps and assaults should not going anyplace. In truth, they’re solely going to proceed rising and getting smarter than ever. Companies that produce, curate and distribute software program have been at a loss as to cease ne’re-do-wells from doing what they do. If Google’s mindset is consistent with mine, then this transfer is a transparent checkmate in opposition to those that got down to steal customers’ knowledge and maintain their gadgets for ransom.And that may be an enormous step ahead. If Google had been to lastly get rid of the power to side-load functions, it could go a good distance towards stopping customers from putting in malicious apps.The caveatBefore I proceed, perceive that is full conjecture on my half. I’m drawing a conclusion that is perhaps method off the mark. But for Google to tug this off, with any measure of success, they are going to have to carry that Android Play Bundle format near the vest. The second the specs are launched for this new format, they’re going to discover side-loadable apps in all places. That is why, as soon as they’ve formally made the shift to the brand new format (in August 2021), Google must also completely disable side-loading for each the previous and the brand new format.SEE: Password-stealing spyware and adware targets Android customers within the UK (TechRepublic)This would possibly ruffle the feathers of some builders and corporations, however the safety of the end-user should come first. Period. And though it is nice to have choices, on this case end-users ought to solely have one choice: the one that provides them even the slightest assure of safety. If the safety of end-users and shoppers doesn’t come first, then you definitely’re going in regards to the enterprise of enterprise all incorrect.The caveat to the caveatHere’s the factor: There will all the time be a sure person kind who installs different ROMs on their Android gadgets. This ought to all the time be a risk for many who select. And Google ought to honor that neighborhood going ahead. Even although the Android Play Bundle would be the default format transferring ahead, the corporate ought to permit APKs for different ROMs. So, here is how I see it enjoying out sooner or later (not instantly):For official Android builds—Android Play Bundles would be the solely supported format, which may solely be discovered within the Google Play Store. For unofficial ROMs—Both APK and Android Play Bundles are supported.The above would do two issues:Better defend shoppers.Placate those that need to use unofficial ROMs.I feel that is the most suitable choice for Google. Anyone who’s bothered to look into the safety crystal balls is aware of the scenario is just going to get far worse. Unless Google does one thing now, Android may develop into a veritable playground for hackers and thieves. This migration to Android Play Bundles may go an extended strategy to head that off… if Google performs its playing cards proper.But once more, that is solely conjecture on my half. Google might produce other causes for migrating away from APKs (like pace and dimension of set up or stopping Windows 11 from integrating with the Google Play Store). Only time will inform, however I do hope this lands in favor of extra safety for shoppers.Subscribe to TechRepublic’s How To Make Tech Work on YouTube for all the newest tech recommendation for enterprise execs from Jack Wallen.

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