Google Play Store v18.6.28 hints at automatically installing apps and games you pre-register for
The Google Play Store is a very important app for the Android ecosystem, serving as the primary and central point of distributing Android apps to millions of users around the world. The success of apps and games can thus depend heavily on marketing strategies that hinge on the Play Store — how many users are reached, how many users install the app and if they react to it and how well they react to it. A few years ago, Google introduced an option for publishers to create pre-release Play Store listings and allow end-users to express their interest in the app by pre-registering for it. Now, the Google Play Store may be preparing to automatically install these pre-registered apps and games on the end-users device.
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An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.
Google Play Store v18.6.28 contains strings that indicate that the app distribution platform may soon automatically install apps and games that users have explicitly expressed an interest in through pre-registration.
<string name="notification_prereg_auto_install_success">%1$s is installed</string>\n<string name="notification_prereg_auto_install_success_explanation_app">"You pre-registered for this app and it's now installed on your device. Enjoy the app!"</string>\n<string name="notification_prereg_auto_install_success_explanation_game">"You pre-registered for this game and it's now installed on your device. Enjoy the game!"</string>
Currently, when a user pre-registers for an app or game, they get a notification when the app or game releases and becomes publicly available for download. The notification is a call for action, but the user can end up entirely ignoring the notification, or just genuinely missing it in the barrage of daily notifications. This upcoming change presumably would install the app or game for you automatically, and then notify you that it was installed.
It’s likely that Google might also add an option in the Play Store settings to control download (WiFi and Mobile Data settings) or opt-out completely from automatic installation, since not all users may be comfortable at downloading apps on mobile data, or automatically in the first place. It is also possible that the app or game turns out to be different at release, compared to what the Play Store pre-release listing alluded to, so having some user-defined control in place would be logical. It remains to be seen how this change from Google would work alongside their recent decision to not display any notification for updated apps (though there is an app that fixes this behaviour).
Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.