Google I|O 2021 and Uncomfortable Questions

Last August, Google stated that:

we intend to require new apps and games to publish with the Android App Bundle on Google Play in the second half of 2021

To publish an App Bundle, we must use App Signing:

it is a requirement to use Play App Signing in order to publish with App Bundles on Google Play.

As a result, Google can do whatever Google wants with the contents of the App Bundles. Some of that could be positive for all parties. Some of that could be very bad, though, which led to some uncomfortable questions about app signing.

In November, Google publicly responded to those uncomfortable questions, indicating that Google was “looking into how [Google] could alleviate some of these concerns”.

Since that time, AFAIK, there has been “radio silence” on the subject. There has been no reversal of the mandatory-App-Signing requirement, and I have not seen any announcement about how Google might “alleviate some of these concerns”.

Worse, time is running out.

There is some Play-specific content presently on the Google I|O 2021 agenda. However, other than a 15-minute “What’s new in Google Play”, keynote I do not see any obvious session where announcements like this might be made. Other keynotes could cover it, but I do not find that to be likely.

They do have quite a few “AMA” sessions, where presumably they are taking live questions. I did not see any tied to Google Play. Wojtek Kaliciński, who provided the best statements in the public response to the concerns, is participating in an AMA, albeit on “Developer Tools and Languages”.

I certainly recommend attending whatever of Google I|O that you can. A lot of content is “on-demand” (i.e., pre-recorded), and presumably the live sessions will be available shortly afterwards in YouTube as well. If you are interested in the App Signing concerns and you get a chance to ask an AMA question about it, great! However, please bear in mind that most developer relations people will have little insight on this, as this is a Google Play concern. Somebody helping with the Jetpack, for example, is unlikely to have any information about App Signing policy changes. Please be respectful of their time and the time of other AMA participants.

Regardless, I hope that we get more clarity on this situation.

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