Google Play will now authenticate apps shared offline via P2P services like SHAREIt

Google Play can now tell when an app that’s been shared from another device is what it claims to be.

Google announced a change to APKs uploaded to the Play Store last December, adding a bit of security metadata to verify the integrity of the uploaded files. This change was made official in June earlier this year and Google now claims that because of this existing metadata, they are now able to roll-out Play-sanctioned peer-to-peer app sharing.

With the update, users who share apps via a Google Play-approved partner P2P app (SHAREIt for now), it will ensure that Google is able to determine shared app authenticity while a device is offline. It will then add the shared apps to a user's Play Library and also manage app updates when the device is brought back online.

In an Android Developer Blog post, Google mentioned that this should benefit both users and developers alike. That's because users will now have access to more secure software without needing to download it first, while developers can now reach a larger user base.

Google Play store depicted in a slide show on-screen at Google I/O. Image: Reuters

Google Play store depicted in a slide show on-screen at Google I/O. Image: Reuters

Product Manager at Google Play, James Bender writes, "This is an important step that improves the integrity of Google Play’s mobile app ecosystem. Offline Play peer-to-peer sharing presents a new distribution opportunity for developers while helping more people keep their apps up to date."

Google is planning to partner with the likes of existing players such as SHAREIt and Xender and will also add its own Files Go in the coming weeks. So the next time you share a heavy app with your friend using SHAREit, the app will be shared along with Google's security metadata which will ensure that no malware is shared.

For those confused about what offline peer-to-peer sharing really helps with, it is handy in places where mobile data networks aren't widely available and aren't quite cheap either. With ever-increasing file-sizes, it becomes increasingly difficult to download essential apps in such places.

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