Google to begin cracking down on sideloading the Google Play Store and other Google apps

It appears as though Google is starting to actively prevent users from using Google apps, such as Google Play Store, Google Play Music, Google Maps, and others on Android devices that are not certified by Google. While Android is an open-source operating system that can be used by anyone without Google’s involvement, manufacturers must follow strict certification guidelines in order to distribute Google’s apps on their devices. Many users of uncertified Android devices, such as Fire TV and Fire Tablet owners, choose to sideload the Google apps they need. That may no longer be possible for newer devices.

According to a tip received by XDA-Developers, Google as started “entirely locking out newly built firmware from accessing Google apps” on uncertified Android devices. The change apparently affects devices running Android with an OS build date of March 16th or newer.

If this is true, it could mean that future Amazon hardware and possibly future software updates to existing Amazon hardware will not be able to sideload Google apps. The “Device Not Certified” message being displayed in various Google apps has been appearing for about a year, but, in the past, it has been possible to circumvent the message by simply clearing Google Play Service’s data. That may no longer work for devices running newer Android builds.

It’s too early to know if this will affect Amazon hardware that can currently run sideloaded Google apps, like Fire Tablets. Since Amazon heavily modifies Android on their Fire devices, those devices do not qualify for Google certification. If Fire device owners want access to Google’s apps, their only option is to sideload the apps.

There is, however, one shred of hope. Google provides a page where owners of uncertified devices can register their devices in order to restore access to Google’s apps. The page is meant for developers and users running custom ROMs on their devices. If Google’s apps stop working on Amazon devices, restoring them may be as simple as registering the device’s Android ID with Google. The Android ID can be retrieved by connecting to the device via ADB and running the command: adb shell settings get secure android_id

SourceXDA

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23 comments
  1. TechyChris says:

    This is actually fairly frightening news.
    Elias, can you elaborate a bit further, does this affect just the official “Google” apps you have noted above or any app that is available in the Google Play Store?
    About a third of my FTV apps are side loaded, but I don’t have the Google Play installed on my FTV, I get my apps mostly through APK Mirror, so would those be blocked as well?

    • AFTVnews says:

      This only effects apps made by Google. You can see the full list here. It does not affect all apps in the Google Play Store, so the sideloaded apps on your Fire TV will continue to work.

      This mostly impacts Fire Tablets because it’s very easy to get the Google Play Store and other Google apps, like Chrome, to run on Amazon’s tablets. Google made apps are not that useful on the Fire TV, so most don’t bother with them.

      • hegemon13 says:

        Well, not quite. It also affects, by extension, all apps that rely on Google Play Services, which is a ton.

        • Yorkshire Tea says:

          Indeed. I already began receiving messages stating that my device is not compatible with Google Play Services! :(

          • AR says:

            i have 3 2015 fire 7 tablets
            rooted and running resurrection remix custom rom

            about a little over a month ago google play services stopped working on one of them , it says unsupported device, this is the device that has full root ,unlocked bootloader and TWRP , the other 2 tablets i flashed with flashfire ,no TWRP

            are still working , not sure if this has anything to do with it or not
            weirs that one all of a sudden stopped working and the other 2 work

            i wonder if this ADB command will work to fix it,i was told to try a dirty flash by XDA because i do not want to start over and lose my app data and other stuff
            i have not got around to doing the flash maybe i should try this first

      • AR says:

        am i supposed to be able to connect to my rooted fire 7 tablet running custom rom using you adb instructions for the fire tv/stick , because it is not working at for me it says unable to connect every single time with
        Android Debug Bridge version 1.0.32
        Revision eac51f2bb6a8-android

        both android debugging and adb over network are enabled but it will not connect, what could be the problem here?
        something with my router?i forget if i have ever successfully used abd connect over my wifi since i got this new asus router , it has given me trouble with other things ,or am i doing something wrong

        cmd run as admin win 8.1

      • AR says:

        oops nevermind it finally connected bt now what am i supposed tot o with this id once i get it? do i just enter that abd command and ten it is magically supposed to start working again or are you supposed to take the ID and enter it someplace?
        should i try and reinstall play services or just give it time
        not sure i am supposed to do next here after i enter the adb command i got the ID but now what?

        • AR says:

          i went to the google/android/uncertified page and i tried to enter the ID i got after running th ADB command but it says this above the field where you are supposed to enter the ID
          “please note that the input only accepts numbers”

          the ID i got is not a number it looks kind of like a mac address
          letters and number, when i enter it it just says “value must be a number”
          but the ID is not a number it is a mix, is there some other page or some other way to get a totally numerical ID or a calculator or translator or something that will convert it to all numbers i am totally confused here
          i have no idea what to do

    • AR says:

      oh yeah i forgot to mention that the google play store works fine on all 3 tablets just no google apps like youtube and gmail will work on the TWRP one

  2. sosh says:

    While this comes off as a bullshit move on Google’s part, I can understand why they’d want to do this. Open source or not, Android fragmentation needs to quit, it’s the cause of every problem the platform has. There is no reason why Amazon can’t run ‘stock’ Android, with a different face, like Samsung does on their fones. I like my FireTVs, but I blame Amazon here, not Google…

    • AFTVnews says:

      There are many things that Amazon has done in Fire OS that are not allowed by Google’s requirements for Google app certification. Fire OS takes too much control out of Google’s hands so Google will never share their apps with it. As for Amazon running stock Android with a “different face,” clearly they have no interest in that and I’m very glad that’s not the case. There are already plenty of generic Android devices. I like there being a third option with Amazon. Plus, Fire TV predates Android TV, so it’s not like running stock Android was even an option for Amazon for the Fire TV.

      • Reflex says:

        Furthermore Amazon will not permit user account data to be shared with Google, a prerequisite for any device to legitimately utilize Google Play Services. Amazon does not view user data as something they have the right to give away, it belongs to their users not Amazon.

        • sosh says:

          Google makes money from user data, it’s the contract we agree too, even if subconsciously. Amazon profits from the result of this contract, but gives nothing back to it, even using their own app store. Seems unfair? Using a ready-made OS is easier and cheaper than making your own, of course ;)

          Of course, you could also argue that Google profits from Linux, and gives little back to the open source community, but at least there’s pressure/hope in that area, such as the promise that Google’s kernel changes will be folded back into the mainstream linux kernels.

          • Reflex says:

            1) Yes Google makes money from user data, and its an agreement their users agree to. Amazon does not have the right to agree to that on the behalf of its users without their permission.

            2) The portions of Android uses on FireTV devices are not the portions that Google owns or curates, they are the open source portions that are contributed to by the larger community of which both Amazon and Google are members and contributers. They are not taking Google’s work and profiting from it any more than anyone else in the OSS community is doing so when they use it to build software for your router, smart devices or public clouds.

      • sosh says:

        I’m not a fan of fragmentation, and while I also have an NVIDIA Shield TV, it still irks me to no end that they use Android TV instead of stock Android. IMHO, Android TV adds nothing but removes the ability to run many Android apps, especially games, that would otherwise run great on the device, which was advertised as a mini-console. It wasn’t until very recently that Minecraft, for example, worked on the Shield TV. Even hand-held Nintendo devices were able to run Minecraft, but not the Shield, and for no technical reason other than silly, and unnecessary, self-imposed shackles (software-differences)…

        My LG and Samsung fones both have different UIs, the LG has stock, Samsung has SenseUI. Two different approaches, each with strengths and weaknesses, but I can run all of the same apps on either device.

        FireOS isn’t technically its own operating system, it’s not even its own operating environment, IMO. it’s taking Android and changing the face, like Samsung does, while taking control of just enough under the hood such that it officially fragments ‘the’ platform, which is ultimately bad for both. It’s awesome that Mojang has a custom version Minecraft just for the FireTV, but there is no actual technical reason that this is required ;)

        • Reflex says:

          Google Android is a fork of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and is just as guilty of creating fragmentation as FireOS and any other AOSP derivative. Making the most popular fork of a open source project does not grant moral authority over other forks, and this situation is quite common (see MySQL and MariaDB).

  3. Dave says:

    This is very welcome news!! It’s good to see Google stepping up and defending their software. Admittance of a problem is the first step toward recovery.

  4. Nate says:

    Elias,

    If this block is limited to Google apps only, this would include Google Play Services as well, yes?

    I currently use a rooted Amazon Fire 7 tablet, Lineage OS 12.1 installed (thanks to keeping my 5.0.1 bootloader); I currently do not sign into a Google Account, but use Yalp to download directly from the Play Store. I flashed pico GApps in TWRP.

    Those apps that require Google Play services to run – will they continue to run, or will I be presented with the same error as others are seeing somehow?

    • Manabi says:

      It may affect you, but since you’re running a custom ROM, Google has given you an out. The last paragraph of the post details the info on how to register your tablet as an uncertified device. You could go ahead and do so, just to be on the safe side. (Although the device ID will change if you flash an updated ROM and you’d have to do it over.)

      • Nate says:

        Absolutely. I realize Google is giving custom ROM users an out, which I appreciate, but I wondered if this was in regard to any and all apps that rely upon Google Play Services, or merely home grown apps from Google (E.g. Gmail, etc.).

        Interestingly enough, according to Android Police’s article, custom ROM users will receive only 100 ROM flash allowances per account:

        “Google is only allowing 100 ‘custom ROM’ blocking exemptions per Google account, so just know that if you factory reset your phone, you may have to use up another of your 100 allowances.” (Source: https://www.androidpolice.com/2018/03/27/google-confirms-blocking-google-apps-uncertified-android-devices-heres-deal/)

        While many of us will never flash a device over 100 times, I am willing to bet there are a lot of people who test nightly builds that could easily hit 100+ flashes. No idea if this includes dirty flashing as well, but I assume it does.

        Suffice to say, this will get interesting as time goes on. I notice little by little Google is clamping down on the Android ecosystem more and more.

        • AR says:

          i have 3 2015 fire 7 tablets running resurrection remix custom rom with pico gapps and xposed , but only one has the 5.0.1 unlocked bootloader and TWRP on it the other 2 i flashed with flashfire

          about a little over a month ago i noticed that google play services just all of a sudden stopped working on the TWRP tablet
          then i check the other 2 i flashed with flashfire and they seem fine
          the one with TWRP will not run any apps like gmail or youtube
          i tried installing google play services from another device clearing cache etc, nothing get google pay services to work again
          i think it says unsupported device ,but the play store still works on the tablet , i have not checked if my paid app licence are working though but play store works fine but no youtube and gmail

  5. Adam says:

    Dave, please Google the Everything is fine meme.

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