Earlier this week, it was discovered that the Netflix app on the Google Play Store was preventing users with rooted devices from installing the app. It was assumed the block was caused by changes to the app’s DRM. Android Police has discovered that it’s much worse than that. Google is now giving app developers the option to prevent rooted devices from installing their apps.
There is a new “SafetyNet exclusion” option in Google’s developer console that, when selected by the developer, prevents “devices that fail integrity tests or those that are uncertified by Google” from installing apps. This essentially blocks rooted device’s and those running custom ROMs from installing certain apps.
It is likely this new developer option that Netflix enabled which is preventing rooted devices from installing the Netflix app from the Google Play Store. The good news is the new option does not modify the app itself. It just controls the Google Play Store’s distribution of the app.
Those with rooted devices can still use apps that enable the new option, like Netflix, if they’re able to acquire the apps from 3rd-party sources. For a feature that’s meant to improve safety on Android devices, it seems counter intuitive that Google is now essentially forcing a subset of Android users to seek apps from unauthorized sources.
This change does not currently affect the Fire TV platform or Amazon appstore in any way, but it could lead Amazon to adopt a similar developer option if enough apps, like Netflix, demand it.