Facebook Android App Wants To Bypass Google Play Store For Updates

The update alert being pushed out to some Android users (via liliputing.com)

The update alert being pushed out to some Android users (via liliputing.com)

As most Android users know, one of the nice things about the operating system is that you don’t always have to get your apps through the official Google Play app store. But usually, any future updates to an app come through whichever store you downloaded the app from. Except now Facebook is asking some Android users to accept an update in the app itself that would allow future updates to be pushed through without notice.

According to liliputing.com, “the Facebook app on your phone downloads the update automatically and then beeps or vibrates incessantly until you install it (or uninstall the app altogether).”

And while there are tweaks like being able to report spam in the app, the big one is “Get app updates automatically over Wi-Fi,” meaning that even if you downloaded the app from Google Play or the Amazon App Store, the Facebook app will now update itself independently of those marketplaces.

Some consumers may see this as a good thing; it’s one fewer hassle, right? But it also raises concerns about the ability for Facebook — or any Android app developer — to simply push through an update that may not meet the standards put in place by Google and others.

“I generally install any trusted app update from the app store, and I ‘trust’ the app store,” writes one user in a Facebook thread discussing this topic. “I feel like my facebook app is not playing fair and it concerns me.”

As TheVerge’s Aaron Souppouris points out, “It also raises questions about security: if Facebook can skip Google Play to update its app, what’s stopping a malicious developer from circumventing Google Play’s built-in virus scanner?”

Facebook now has the following not-exactly-an-explanation up:

We’re working quickly to improve Facebook for Android and want to make sure everyone is using the best version of our app. Updates will download when you are on Wi-Fi, and they won’t rely on your data plan.