Google has quietly tweaked its Play store policies to prevent apps like Facebook Home from updating on Android devices without going through the official method. The change, which coincides with Facebook directly tweaking its social homescreen replacement rather than pushing out an update through the Google Play store, adds a new proviso which forbids any circuitous attempts to "modify, replace or update" code.
The change joins existing prohibitions on apps that secretly download other software from outside of the Play store, but has the impact of specifically blocking Facebook's tests with unofficial updates. The social site had been trialling a system whereby some Facebook Home users would be prompted to install a beta version for limited testing, with that beta delivered to the device directly rather than via Play.
Users would have to agree to the update, which was not downloaded automatically, and it was apparently only loaded to a device over a WiFi connection, not cellular data. Although not contrary to Google's rules at the time, the idea of developers bypassing the market unsurprisingly didn't go down well with the search company.
"An app downloaded from Google Play may not modify, replace or update its own APK binary code using any method other than Google Play's update mechanism" Google Play Developer Content Policy
Facebook is yet to comment on the changes, which are part of Google's "Dangerous Products" section of the policy. There's more on Facebook Home in our full review.
Update: Google tells us that the following explanation was added to the Android Developers Console with regards to the policy update:
"Google Play Program Policies have been updated. See “Content Policies” section, which clarifies that “An app downloaded from Google Play may not modify, replace or update its own APK binary code using any method other than Google Play's update mechanism.” Google Play is a trusted source for Android application downloads, and we are committed to providing a secure and consistent experience"
[via The Verge]