How to distribute apps on Android without Google Play

Mishaal Rahman
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How to distribute apps on Android without Google Play

The Google Play Store is home to millions of Android apps. It's most likely the place where you downloaded the app to get this podcast. But what if you're in that very special group of users who source their apps from outside the bubble of Google Play?

On this episode of Android Bytes, we talk with Logan Magee, the developer behind his very own app store, Accrescent.

  • 01:23 - Why do so many OEMs license GMS? What’s the importance of the Google Play Store and Google Play Services?
  • 03:38 - What are the considerations you need to make when designing an app store?
  • 07:45 - How do you get your app store on devices without GMS?
  • 09:32 - What is Accrescent, and how will it differ from other Android app stores?
  • 11:51 - How does Android’s security model work when it comes to apps? What is an APK file? What’s inside of an APK? How is it updated?
  • 14:20 - How have APK signatures evolved? What do APK Signature Scheme v3 and v4 bring to the table? How does APK Signature Scheme v4 enable the “Play as you download” feature?
  • 16:28 - Is there a way to secure Android’s trust on first use (TOFU) model for first-time app installs?
  • 19:20 - What do Google Play and other app stores do to get developers on board?
  • 20:40 - How does Google Play (try to) keep malicious apps off their store? Are these measures effective?
  • 26:08 - Should app stores take over guarding of sensitive permissions from the OS?
  • 28:40 - What is the advantage of bundling an app store with the OS image? What can preinstalled app stores do that sideloaded third-party app stores can’t?
  • 30:25 - How does Android 12 enable third-party app stores to perform unattended updates?
  • 33:35 - What is an Android App Bundle and how is it different from an APK? What are the benefits of app bundles and what are some of the downsides?
  • 40:25 - How will Google Play’s app archiving feature work? What is an archived APK?
  • 41:50 - What can we learn about Android app distribution from China?

About the Podcast

Android Bytes (powered by Esper)

A weekly show that dives deep into the Android OS

Android Bytes (powered by Esper) is the podcast that dives deep into the engineering and business decisions behind the world’s most popular OS. 

Android powers over 3 billion devices worldwide and is the platform of choice for over a thousand companies. You’ll find Android on smartphones, tablets, watches, TV, cars, kiosks, and so much more. How does Google architect Android to run on so many form factors, and how do companies fork AOSP to make it run on even more devices? These are the kinds of questions the Android Bytes podcast considers each week.

Join cohosts Mishaal Rahman and David Ruddock, two journalists with extensive knowledge covering the Android OS platform and ecosystem, as they speak to system architects, kernel engineers, app developers, and other distinguished experts in the Android space.

Click here to learn more about the podcast. Get in touch with us at if you’re looking to use Android for your product — we have the experience you need.

Our music is “19” by HOME and is licensed under CC BY 3.0.


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How to distribute apps on Android without Google Play
Mishaal Rahman
Mishaal Rahman

Mishaal Rahman is a Technical Editor at Esper. He has been an Android user for over a decade and has been at the forefront of Android news coverage for half a decade. His in-depth breakdowns of new Android versions have been referenced across the Internet.

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