TikTok, the live-streaming platform from Chinese company Bytedance has been taken off Google Play Store and Apple App store this week for users in India. This decision was made after the Indian government reached out to the technology giants, asking them to comply with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s orders.
The app has been taken down, but users who’ve already got it on their phones can still use it for content creation and consumption. However, that doesn’t mean new users can’t download or get hold of the app after the ban.
While Apple is strict with its app policies, not allowing its users to side-load or download app files (called APK) from third-party platforms, Google’s Android, being an open source ecosystem, allows you to do it.
Side-loading is the process where you get hold of the app’s APK or application file, TikTok in this case. Then you have to allow the phone to support third-party apps that haven’t been downloaded from the Play Store (because it has been removed), and install it with all the features intact. It’s usually a simple setting in Android phones.
Just a basic Google search can list the number of websites from where a user can install TikTok. The ban is likely to trigger a spurt of forums filled with information on third-party stores from where the app can be downloaded.
However, downloading from unknown websites can be dangerous as it is likely to carry malware threats, risking the data that resides in a user’s device and damaging the phone as well, for which Google won’t be liable in this case.
APKs have been the go-to source of downloading apps that aren’t available via Play Store for Android users, and the latest ban on TikTok in India is likely to kick start a storm that can have other repercussions.
We’ve often seen people using yet-to-release apps via a virtual private network (VPN), something that was extensively used to access Spotify (and pay for it) before it became officially available in India.
For users on iOS, however, they’ll probably have to make the switch to Android (if they really want to) or just wait for the ban to be removed to get streaming on TikTok in the country.
The ban on TikTok is an unprecedented move, one that involves removal of the app from the app store for consumers. The Supreme Court will be hearing the case against TikTok on 22 April and that’s probably when it’ll become clear whether the app has its ground covered as laid out in its content policies or not.
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