Why is the Driver app not in the Play Store?

App stores, such as the Google Play Store, often impose conditions on software developers that constrain what they may or not do with apps distributed through app stores. They also regularly impose charges of up to 30% of revenues gathered through an app that has been distributed through an app store. Were Simply Connect’s driver app to be distributed through the Google Play Store, this could both constrain what we were able to offer and force us to charge more for our services. It would also put Simply Connect and the services we offer you at the mercy of future changes to Google’s policies.

There have been many examples of apps being removed from the Play Store – and thus businesses damaged or destroyed – seemingly because the app in question offered alternative means to pay for a service from outside the Google in-app payments system (and therefore, from which Google would not be able to collect 30% of the payment). For example, in 2021 Google removed an open source language learning app from the Play Store because the app provided a link to its own website, which contained a Paypal donations link. (Read the full story here.)

Instead, we have opted to maintain independence and manage our own distribution and application update process. This allows us to offer our service at prices that would not otherwise be possible. Further, it protects us and organisations using our software from any future changes to Google’s policies that could potentially make services such as ours harder or more expensive to run.

Unfortunately, installing apps from outside the Play Store might require you to make a small settings change on your Android tablet. The exact location and text of the setting can vary between versions of Android and device manufacturer; however, it is usually to be found within the “apps” or “security” categories of settings, and often goes by the title of “Install unknown apps”. This link might be of assistance if you have difficulty finding the option. You can also just try opening the .apk file on your device (for example, from a file manager app on the device) – if you do this, some versions of Android will direct you to the correct setting to enable the installation of apps from outside Google Play. Furthermore, do not hesitate to contact us if you are unable to install the driver app on your device.

How are Android apps installed?

It is easy to think of the Play Store on Android as the single way to obtain apps for Android devices. In reality, the Play Store is just a directory of apps that is pre-loaded onto most Android devices and that Google manages. Just as on Windows computers an executable installer file can be downloaded and installed from many different locations, on Android a .apk file can be downloaded and installed, or “side-loaded” on the device.

Is it safe to install the Driver App since it does not come from the Play Store?

Yes. The Driver App has been developed following modern development good practices and is an integral part of the Simply Connect software system. There are many other examples of respectable apps that are distributed outside of the Play Store, including Fortnite Games (because it allowed payments outside of Google’s in-app payments system); Amazon Appstore; and NordVPN for Android (because it allows the user to remove Google’s adverts from their device).

If you are concerned about the safety of the Driver App, rest assured that even though the Driver App is not downloaded from the Play Store, Google Play Protect will still scan all apps on your device (including apps such as the Driver App that were not downloaded from the Play Store) to detect malicious behaviour.