With the legal fight between Epic and Apple ongoing, Google seems to be taking steps to put as much distance between itself and potentially duplicating Apple's behaviors as possible. One of the key differences Google seems to be focusing on is the functionality of third-party app stores which are not associated with Google Play.

In an announcement reported on Android Central, Google indicated next year's Android 12 release would have more robust functionality in place for third-party app stores.

We will be making changes in Android 12 (next year's Android release) to make it even easier for people to use other app stores on their devices while being careful not to compromise the safety measures Android has in place. We are designing all this now and look forward to sharing more in the future!

However, in the same announcement, Google also stated they would be taking more rigorous steps towards enforcing the 30% cut of transactions which occur through the Google Play Store. Google will be requiring all Android app developers and publishers selling digital goods through the Play Store to use Google's billing system. For the bulk of Android developers, this likely isn't going to be much of an issue, since they don't sell digital goods. But for the few who do, they have until September of next year to get their apps into compliance.

Food For Thought

While Google has been taking jabs at Apple about their "walled garden" approach, they may not have been paying attention to one of Epic's claims, and this announcement may potentially leave them open to the same legal strategy Epic is employing despite Google's efforts to distance themselves from Apple. If Apple's requirement to use their payment systems with the App Store is found to be a violation of Section 16727 of California's Cartwright Act, then that establishes a precedent which Epic can then use on Google for precisely the same thing.