Meta is planning to allow users in the EU to directly download apps through Facebook ads, aiming to compete with Google and Apple’s app stores. The Verge’s Alex Heath writes: The new type of ad is set to start as a pilot with a handful of Android app developers as soon as later this year, I’ve learned. Meta sees an opening to try this thanks to new regulation in the EU called the Digital Markets Act (DMA) that is expected to go into effect next spring. It deems Apple and Google as “gatekeepers” and requires that they open up their mobile platforms to alternative methods of downloading apps. Android technically allows sideloading already, though Google makes it difficult by coupling its in-app billing and licensing with the Play Store, along with the scary warnings it shows when someone tries to download an Android app from another source. Even still, Meta clearly thinks it’s safer to try its test first on Android rather than Apple’s iOS.
Meta’s pitch to developers participating in the pilot is that, by hosting their Android apps and letting Facebook users download them directly without being kicked out to the Play Store, they’ll see higher conversion rates for their app install ads. At least initially, Meta doesn’t plan to take a cut of in-app revenue from participating apps, so developers in the pilot could still use whatever billing systems they want.