Sideload with Caution: Google Tightens Grip on App Updates Across Android

In the upcoming Android 14, Google is introducing a new Update Ownership API. This feature allows app stores to claim ownership of the apps they install, like those from Google Play. When users update apps from other sources or directly via APK, the system detects this and issues a notification.

This API primarily serves as a security measure to alert users about potential risks when downloading, installing, or updating apps from outside the official store. Users must read the notification and confirm before proceeding with updates.

Initially, this update ownership pop-up was exclusive to Google Pixel devices and Google’s apps. However, it has now expanded to include third-party apps on non-Pixel devices.

According to AndroidPolice, users of Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra reported receiving such notifications when updating apps like AccuWeather through APK. This doesn’t impede the side-loading of updates, but Google may soon extend this feature to more applications, especially since Google Play is a major app store.

It’s important to note that these notifications appear only once per app; subsequent updates of the same app won’t trigger the pop-up. Also, for security, Google Play Protect conducts scans on side-loaded installations and updates, reducing the likelihood of malware infiltration.