Xiaomi wants to block extraction .apk files on Android and Google refuses

A Xiaomi developer has submitted a patch to the Android Open Source Project aimed at preventing users from extracting installed apps in the form of an .apk file. AOSP administrator Google will not agree.


Xiaomi employee Guowei Du suggested the change to Android’s source code with the comment, “.apk files may contain confidential data, so we should not allow others to pull it . ” Google developers argue that the contents of an .apk should not be expected to remain secret and that those who really want to extract an .apk can always use a userdebug build of Android to get their hands on it. Moreover, there are plenty of sites where .apk’s can be downloaded.

Another Google employee adds that any secrets in an .apk can be encrypted and that it can be verified whether an app has been paid for via other methods, such as a check with Google Play Services, so fighting piracy doesn’t seem like an argument either. All in all, the Google developers seem to agree with neither the ends nor the means.

An .apk file allows apps to be installed on Android systems. It is similar to an .exe installer or .msi file in Windows.

Android expert Mishaal Rahman spread the word . He adds that he’s “glad that Google isn’t bringing this patch” and “hopes Xiaomi doesn’t either.” The implication there is that Xiaomi can apparently introduce this blockade independently on its own devices. To check, Tweakers has asked Rahman whether that is really the case.

It does not seem to be the first time that Xiaomi has engaged in these practices. This year it has also introduced the so-called Pure Mode in MIUI 13, the company’s Android shell. This prevents sideloading , but can be disabled.

Other examples of such practices include Samsung and OnePlus restricting access to the cameras when unlocking the bootloader and using third-party camera apps , respectively . The manufacturers in question later lifted these blockages.