Peer-to-peer sharing of apps is common in developing nations where data is limited due to connectivity or price. Over the past few months, Google has been working to make the practice more secure for users. Today, it is beginning a beta of offline P2P installs by partnering with third-party applications.
In June, Google started adding security metadata to apps and updates to verify that an APK was distributed by the Play Store. This extra payload gives users “more confidence when using Play-approved peer-to-peer sharing apps.”
Starting today, Google Play will be able to determine the authenticity of apps distributed via P2P even when a device has no internet connectivity. Once a data connection is regained, shared apps will be automatically added to a user’s Play Library and be eligible for regular app updates. The experience will be identical to a user directly installing the app from a Play Store listing.
Sharing has to be initiated through Play-approved partner peer-to-peer apps, like Lenovo’s SHAREIt. That integration is live today and coming soon to Google’s Files Go client and third-party app Xender.
Developers do not have to do any extra work with applications to make them P2P compatible — except benefit from the now authorized offline distribution channel:
This also benefits you as a developer as it provides a Play-authorized offline distribution channel and, since the peer-to-peer shared app is added to your user’s Play library, your app will now be eligible for app updates from Play.