Lack of Updates for VLC Android App with 100 Million Downloads

VLC Player

VLC media player, a widely used open-source application known for its versatility across platforms, has encountered a roadblock in recent months on the Android platform. The VLC Android app, boasting over 100 million downloads on the Google Play Store, hasn’t received updates since summer 2023. This lack of updates has caused concern among users who rely on the app’s functionality.

Stalled Updates: A Look at the VLC Android App Impasse

VLC Media Player windows app

The source of the issue appears to be a disagreement between VLC’s developer, VideoLAN, and Google. VideoLAN claims Google has imposed limitations that hinder the app’s update process.

One point of contention is Google’s Play App Signing requirement. This feature utilizes Google-controlled signing keys to verify the authenticity of app updates. While this enhances security, VideoLAN expresses reservations about surrendering control over these keys, fearing it could compromise the project’s open-source principles.

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Another point of friction lies in Android API compatibility. VLC prioritizes supporting older Android TV versions (pre-API 30) alongside newer Android versions (up to Android 11). However, Google’s guidelines restrict updates for apps that target deprecated APIs. While this encourages developers to adopt newer, more secure versions, it risks leaving users on older Android TVs behind.

VideoLAN estimates tens of millions of users still rely on older Android TV systems. Their stance prioritizes maintaining functionality for this user base, even if it clashes with Google’s update policies.

As of now, no resolution has been reached. This ongoing dispute could force users to seek updates from alternative sources outside the Google Play Store, potentially raising security concerns. Both parties reaching a compromise that prioritizes user safety, open-source integrity, and platform advancement remains vital.

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