GOOGLE HAS started adding a string of metadata to all packages downloaded to the Google Play Store.
The announcement was quietly dropped last week, but before everyone starts panicking let's take a step back.
Yes, it's a form of DRM. But DRM isn't all bad. In fact, the main problem with DRM to date has been the completely dastardly way it has been used. Remember 15 years ago when putting a CD into the drive would bring up an embedded music player to try and prevent you ripping it?
They never really worked anyway.
Anyway, the point is that DRM has got a practical purpose and in this case its to ensure that all apks coming from the store are digitally signed. That means that even if you don't get your apps from Google Play, they're still safe, and still work with the Google Play Services framework for things like cloud saving and cross-device play.
Plus they're a heck of a lot safer.
Not to mention it makes it a lot easier to track down anyone who has hacked a malicious payload.
Perhaps the best thing about this is that if you got an app from elsewhere (say, Amazon) and installed it, as long as it has been certified, it will be added to your library and get all the updates it will ever need.
Now let's be very clear here - this is now an open Pandora's box. Google is using its DRM for good right now, but this is Google, lest we forget and there could be a bit more data collection than we expected at any time.
By not out-and-out calling it DRM, Google is avoiding a lot of the instant backlash the very mention of the term causes, but the fact is that, if you're the type of person that trusts big corporations as far as you can throw them, then this is one to keep an eye on - it would take very little extra code to make the new safety measures into a giant surveillance device powered by your phone.
Let's just hope that doesn't happen, eh? µ
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