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Last year Facebook's hands were slapped by Google for updating their APK outside of the Google Play update process. Google then introduced language in their Developer Program Policies.

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.

How is this to be interpreted across two cases?...

  • Is making the APK available for download for those that do not want to enable a Google account on the device a violation of this policy?
  • If an APK ships with the ROM, is it considered an "app downloaded from Google Play"? Can such an app be eligible for updating through other means? Can such an app update itself? In other words, are APKs originating from a ROM exempt?
  • If the app isn't on Google play (comes with a ROM, downloaded from an alternative market, is made by your friend etc) then it has nothing to do with Google, as the quote says "An app downloaded from Google Play" Since the apps aren't from there in the first place there is no policy in the first place to violate. For example, apps from the Amazon App Store need to conform to Amazon's guidelines. If you install an apk I send you then you simply have to trust me, Google Play doesn't enter the equation. – RossC Aug 19 '14 at 7:45
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No and no. In the first case, the app isn't downloaded from Google Play, it's downloaded from another source. In the second case, it's shipped with the ROM, and has no ties to Google Play. However, if you supply the APK via other means than Google Play, you can't use Google Play's update features.

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    The APK both comes on the ROM and is available on the Play Store. An example might be Motorola Alert. I am not talking about custom ROMs but legit, blessed ROMs that have APKs in /system/priv-app/ but are also on the Play Store for upgrade purposes. – Brandon Smith Aug 20 '14 at 20:25

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