Google earlier this week in a quietly fashion rolled out a feature that adds a string of metadata to all APK files for apps when they’re signed by are developer.
One should note that you won’t be able to install an application which hasn’t been signed during its final build so, that means that all apps built using the latest APK Signature Scheme will have a chunk of DRM built into them.
In an effort to improve security, this new feature will check the security of metadata to Android APKs to make sure they’re distributed through the Play Store. It will also make it possible to verify an app when you’re offline.
According to Google, there is no reason to panic over the new update as it may ultimately be helpful, even if there are legitimate concerns.
The DRM feature is very helpful to those in developing areas where people don’t always have reliable data, and may have to go through a peer-to-peer portal or another channel that isn’t Google’s.
Technically, the addition of DRM to APKs will act as a form of assurance to those downloading apps from places they don’t trust and also it will help weed out any insecure apps that could compromise your handset’s security.
What is DRM?
DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. It is intended to protect the content owner and keep applications secure from unauthorized sharing.
We have seen the same feature being used by many gaming companies like EA (Electronic Arts) where you have to install an Origin client and have it regularly check online to run any games published by EA. The same measure has been put in place by entertainment companies like Netflix to protect their content from authorised access and sharing.
However, people are more concerned about how this feature will be used and don’t really trust it because of the way developers and publishers have abused it in the past.
PC gaming platforms like Steam, U Play and other companies like Sony, Disney have fully implemented DRM in their applications which has caused some strife among users because it decides where in the world you are allowed to use their content. For example, you may not be able to play music or video content you paid for because you moved to another country.
In Africa, we have faced the same issues from time to time where by gamers on the Sony PlayStation network can’t purchase certain online content because its location restricted. To me, this is just total nonsense.
We too are clients and deserve a right to have access to content we paid for.
The DRM move by Google isn’t a bad thing since security is important and apps need to be verified for their contents. Plus, you can buy an app from any approved distributor and it will work with Google Play Store features like family library and subscriptions.
However, in case the tech giant decides to switch its tactics and play an EA move, then just know very soon you may not be able to access that favorite app you love so much because its restricted.
All things considered, let’s hope the DRM feature isn’t abused.
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Allan Bangirana is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Spur Magazine. He is also the co-founder of the Innovware project.
He is a freelance consultant passionate about tech, programming, games and entertainment.