Last week, the news about the Netflix application being hidden for rooted users when searching the Play Store made waves across the community. At first it wasn’t quite clear exactly why this was happening but then Netflix released a statement saying this was intended behavior. The company said they were using Google’s Widevine DRM as a way to block unsupported devices, but that didn’t make sense because it could still be side-loaded very easily.
Instead, it looked like Netflix is using some sort of SafetyNet check to determine whether or not the application shows up as a search result in the Play Store. Now that Google I/O has started, the company is rolling out new features to a large number of their services and the Google Play Console is one of those services. It looks like there’s a new feature in there that enables developers to exclude their application or game from people depending on an additional number of variables.
This can be done so your graphics heavy game doesn’t show up to people who only have 1GB of RAM, or it can be applied so that people on an unsupported SoC do not see your work. There’s also an option here to enable SafetyNet exclusion here as well. This means that developers can hide their applications from devices which don’t pass the SafteyNet checks, or don’t pass basic integrity checks, or even devices which are not certified by Google.
This is actually a bit different than the traditional SafetyNet checks that most of us are used to. With the standard check, the check is done at the time the application is launched and then it will direct you to an error page if the test is not passed. This Device Catalog exclusion feature prevents people from seeing the application in the Play Store if certain tests are not passed, which is interesting because the application can still be side-loaded (assuming that SafetyNet checks aren’t present in the application itself) and will continue to function normally.
I can only assume this will cause more and more people to use 3rd-party application repository websites such as our very own XDA Labs as a way to bypass this issue.
Source: Android Developers Blog Via: Android Police