Google follows Apple's lead with new, stricter Play Store payment rules

Google Play Store
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google will no longer allow app developers whose software offers in-app purchases to circumvent the Google Play Store's payment system as the company looks to crackdown on apps and services trying to bypass its rules.

The search giant has always required developers who distribute their apps on the Play Store to use its billing system if they offer in-app purchases of digital goods. For this convenience, developers pay a service fee from a percentage of each purchase.

However, in a new blog post responding to developer feedback about the Play Store and Android, vice president of product management at Google Sameer Samat explained that less than three percent of developers sold digital goods via their apps over the last 12 months and of those who did, the vast majority (nearly 97%) already use Google Play's billing.

For those developers that don't use the Play Store's billing system, Google will give them until September 30, 2021 to complete any needed updates to apps that may require technical work to integrate it.

Choice of app stores

In addition to updating the Play Store's payment rules, Google also revealed that it will be making changes to the next release of its mobile operating system to make it even easier for users to use other app stores on their devices in addition to Google Play.

Unlike Apple's iOS that only allows users to download and purchase apps from the App Store, Android has always allowed users to get apps from multiple app stores. Each app store is able to decide its own business model and consumer features but Google does not allow rival app stores to list their apps in the Google Play Store.

With the release of Android 12 next year, the company plans to make it easier for users to access other app stores on their devices while being careful not to compromise the safety measures Android has in place.

One of the main reasons many users prefer Android to iOS is due to the freedom they have over their devices and by making it easier to use rival app stores, Google will effectively give consumers more choice over the apps they have installed on their smartphone and tablets.

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.