Listening to developers, Google has said its next mobile operating system will simplify the experience of using stores, other than the Play Store.
Most Android phone owners head over to the Google Play Store, when they need new apps. However, the search giant said Monday that the next version of its mobile operating system will make it easier for users to install third-party app stores. It’s not incredibly difficult to access other app stores, so it begs the question, what will Android 12 do to simplify the process?
Google officially launched Android 11 earlier this month and it comes with a slew of improvements over Android 10, including new themes and improvements to communication, security and privacy. However, Android 11 is still in the process of being rolled to users, so it’s a little odd to already be talking about its successor.
In spite of this, Google is already thinking ahead to next year’s release. In a post on the Android Developers Blog, Sameer Samat, Google’s vice-president of product management, wrote that after listening to feedback, the company is committed to supporting app developers who wish to offer their software in multiple places, whether that be different platforms (such as mobile and PC) or app stores other than the Google Play Store. Samat added Android 12 will be designed to make it easier to use third-party stores without compromising safety measures. Unfortunately, the announcement was a little vague on what these design changes actually include.
Installing Third-Party App Stores
The main reason most Android users don’t use third-party app stores is because there usually isn’t a need to. Most of the apps they would ever think to use are already available on the Google Play Store. Although as Samat pointed out, most phones running Android already come with at least two app stores installed considering smartphone manufacturers, such as Samsung, install their own stores alongside Google Play. So perhaps Android 12 will just include multiple app stores out of the box. Granted, people who don’t want those app stores, might consider their inclusion bloatware.
So probably the best way for Android to make it easier to access third-party app stores is to feature them on Google Play. Users who currently try to search for such content on Google Play will come up with the odd store here and there but they won’t find any of the more popular alternatives, such as the Amazon Appstore, Aptoide or APKPure. If you want those ones, they have to be installed manually. Doing so isn’t particularly difficult, but it can be a bit of a hassle. The application package file (APK) for the app just has to be downloaded from the internet. The APK file can then be opened with either an APK installer app (which can be downloaded from Google Play) or through some browser apps. Once installed, the app store can be used the same way as Google Play.
Another option would be for Google to launch an app, similar to Huawei’s Petal Search – a solution the Chinese company launched to help compensate for the fact its phones lost access to Google Play due to U.S. sanctions. While Huawei’s own app store is somewhat lacking, Petal Search essentially is a browser for apps. Users simply type in the name of an app and it searches APK repositories on the web for it. The user then downloads the app and installs it through Petal Search. Perhaps Google could make an app along the same lines that would search a select set of the more reputable app stores to streamline results and reduce the risk of users downloading unsafe content. Or perhaps it wouldn’t be an app at all but a feature built in to the OS itself. Of course, this is all speculation. Google has not offered any specifics on how it plans to make third-party app stores more accessible in Android 12. While the above examples are simply possibilities, Google’s own solution could be something completely different.
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