Google’s Advanced Protection Program Might Block Non-Play Store Apps in the Future
Back in 2017, Google announced it's advanced protection program that lets volunteers get additional security benefits and protections for their apps. It also expects users to use 2FA at all times and restricts access to apps hosted outside the Play Store. Lastly, downloading content off of unsecured pages on Chrome is a lot more difficult.
The program is strictly voluntary and not enforced upon anyone. It is intended primarily for users who are concerned about security. You can sign up for the program here. Do note that you'll need to purchase two Titan security keys and link them to your Google account to proceed. Now, we have stumbled upon what could be the latest security measure in Google's advanced protection program.
Based on their latest APK teardown, 9to5google came across several instances of text that said: "App blocked by Advanced Protection," followed by "For additional security, Advanced Protection won’t allow apps from outside the Google Play Store." Preventing users enrolled from sideloading any third-party apps seems like a bit too much. A more balanced approach would be to scan all apps sideloaded outside of the Play Store with Google Play Protect.
Ideally, it should be left upon users to determine their take on apps hosted outside the Play Store. A lot of businesses enrolled in the program would welcome the change, as it lets them add an extra layer of security to their devices. The same can't be said for most users, though. There are a lot of incredibly useful apps hosted on third-party platforms such as F-Droid that might get affected by this policy.
Since this a teardown of a beta version of the Play Store's Advanced Protection Program, it may take a while for the changes to make their way to a final release. There's even a likelihood that they won't get implemented. Prima facie, the policy comes off as tad anti-competitive. Although there are a lot of shady operators out there, 'security' is hardly a reason to lock users out of entire app ecosystems outside of the Play Store.