Google’s Epic response: Android 12 will make it easier to install app stores

Google today announced it will make it easier to install and use third-party app stores with the release of Android 12 next year. (Google releases new versions of Android annually and launched Android 11 earlier this month.) Google also reiterated its existing Payments Policy for in-app purchases of digital goods: Android developers who want to distribute apps and games on Google Play must use Google’s billing system. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Google is offering a 1-year grace period for developers who aren’t complying with this policy: The deadline is September 30, 2021.

Today’s announcements are a direct response to Epic’s war with Apple and Google over the 30% cut the companies take of every purchase on the iOS App Store and the Google Play store, respectively. On August 13, Epic updated Fortnite for Android and iOS to use its own billing service, resulting in Apple and Google deleting Fortnite from their app stores. Epic then turned around and sued both tech giants. The lawsuits could define how all developers, from individuals to massive corporations, distribute apps on the world’s duopoly of mobile operating systems.

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