Google adding security metadata to Play Store apps
Android users that download their apps through Google's official app storefront will now also be downloading security metadata on a per-app basis to verify that each app has not been modified from how it is distributed on the store. This will also enable the apps to be verified on devices even when are not on an active Internet connection.
James Bender, Google Play's Project Manager, detailed the way apps downloaded from the Google-operated app store will verify that content was distributed by the store and not modified in any way. Bender states that this will most benefit users in countries with more limited and costly Internet data plans that rely on peer-to-peer app sharing.
As Engadget notes, however, this additional metadata is also, by definition, a form of digital rights management (DRM). Though Google only states that this will enable app developers that publish their apps on the Play Store to access "new distribution opportunities for developers and help more people keep their apps up to date," this will also allow those developers to, if they wish, have more control over how users may use this software.
For Play Store users concerned about this new metadata, popular app repositories such as F-Droid are readily available due to the open, modular nature of the Android operating system.