Last weekend, Netflix was in the news because the company made it so that rooted devices and those with unlocked bootloaders could no longer download the application. Netflix quickly confirmed that it would start blocking the installation of the app from the Play Store for devices that didn’t pass Google’s Safety Net. Now, Google has updated the Google Play Console to make it easier for all developers to do the same thing…
At I/O 2017, Google added a bunch of new tools to the Play Console that includes new ways to check application performance, publish Instant Apps, and much more. One thing Google didn’t mention on stage but did post on its support page is the ability to easily restrict applications from being installed on devices that didn’t meet SafetyNet’s standards.
All a developer needs to do to access these new tools is to have uploaded at least one APK to the console. After selecting the application in which they would like to set restriction upon, head on over to the side menu, click on the arrow next to Release Management, and select device catalog. This is the new location where developers can see what Android phones, tablets, TVs, and smartwatches do and do not work with the application.
In the middle of the screen, there is a button labeled as Excluded Devices. Once in that section, developers can choose to either not exclude their application based on SafetyNet, exclude devices that don’t pass basic integrity, or entirely exclude it from both.
Long story short, Google is giving developers more tools to easily block users who are either rooted, running a custom ROM, or have an unlocked bootloader from downloading their applications from the Play Store. Now that it is easy to do so, it would not be surprising if we saw more developers decide to go this route.
Thankfully, this is not the same thing as Google’s SafetyNet API. The applications that are blocked on the Google Play Store side can still be sideloaded as APKs and used as normal, but applications like Android Pay with the full API cannot run at all if the device does not meet SafetyNet’s standards.