By threatening to remove the software from the Google Play Store, it appears that the rather well-liked file manager Total Commander has been prohibited from sideloading APK files.
Google sent a notification to the creators of Total Commander, a file management program accessible on both Android and Windows, explaining that the app was in danger of being deleted from the Play Store, as detailed on both a forum post and a Reddit comment . The justification cited was “device and network abuse,” especially mentioning Google’s rule that Play Store apps aren’t allowed to download executable files from outside the Play Store.
Google clarified and provided a follow-up:
It has already been mentioned that your app (APK versions 1031, 1032, 1033, 1034, 1035, and 1036) encourages users to download or install apps from untrusted sources outside of Google Play.
Given that Total Commander is a file manager and should be able to install APK files, just as Google’s own Files program or browsers like Chrome, this is undoubtedly an interesting position. The program does allow you to install APK files that you download from outside sources, however most people download these files via regular web browsers. Even with that functionality disabled, Google is still threatening to remove Total Commander. APK files of apps that are already installed on the device can be be backed up and restored by Total Commander.