Android 12 LogoSource: Alex Dobie / Android Central

What you need to know

  • Google is working on making alternative app stores easier to use on Android 12.
  • Third-party app stores will be able to update apps without requiring any user action.
  • Currently, third-party app stores cannot install an app update without user intervention.

Earlier this week, Google announced the first beta of Android 12 at its first-ever virtual I/O. Android 12 brings a ton of new features to the table, including more personalization options, smoother animations, a new Privacy Dashboard, and more. Google also confirmed that it is delivering on its "promise to make third-party app stores easier to use on Android 12," but the search giant is yet to detail the exact changes that it is working on.

According to developer documentation accessed by the folks at XDA Developers, Android 12 will finally let alternative app stores update apps without requiring users to to allow the installation manually. This means alternative app stores will be able to seamlessly install app updates, just like the Google Play Store.

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Google has added a new method called setRequireUserAction to Android's PackageInstaller.SessionParams to indicate if user intervention is required before an app install session is allowed. While it defaults to true for the best Android apps that hold the REQUEST_INSTALL_PACKAGES permission, user action will not be required if all of the below conditions are fulfilled:

  • The installer opts into the new behaviour.
  • The app that's being installed targets API level 29 (Android 10) or higher.
  • The installer is either updating itself or installing an update to an app it first installed.
  • The installer declares the UPDATE_PACKAGES_WITHOUT_USER_ACTION permission.

Google had first hinted at major changes to make it easier for Android users to use alternative app stores in September last year, in response to mounting pressure from regulatory authorities and the lawsuit filed by Epic Games over Fortnite's removal from the Play Store.