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Russian devs plan alternative Android app store after Google Play bans paid apps
Claim NashStore will help Russians access common apps from May 9
A group of Russian developers are planning a Google Play alternative for Android users that will give those based in the country access to paid apps and services lost due to sanctions.
Google suspended users' ability to purchase apps and games, make subscription payments and make "any in-app purchases" of digital goods using Google Play in Russia as of 10 March. It asked devs that make apps that offer "critical services" to make them free.
According to ANO Digital Platforms, the organization behind the new app store, NashStore will launch on May 9, the same day the country has a public holiday to mark its victory in World War Two. The org behind it also serves as an industry association and IT consulting firm, and hosts a registry for connecting software makers with business customers.
Vladimir Zykov, project director of ANO Digital Platforms, said of the move: "Unfortunately, Russians will no longer be able to use the Play Market normally to buy and pay for applications, and developers have lost their source of income. This is the fact we are facing today."
NashStore translates to "Our Store," and will reportedly be designed to work with all Android devices, with payments from bank cards compatible with the Russian Mir payment system being accepted.
The as-yet-unlaunched store will enable users to download, install and update apps, as well as pay for subscriptions. It will also have "all the usual set of functions," including a five-point app rating scale, a feedback system and more.
One thing NashStore won't have when it launches (unless it gains significant traction between now and launch) is an abundance of apps. As it stands now, over 500 developers have joined the NashStore community, but it's not there yet.
In the NashStore FAQs, the question of whether or not the new store will be a full-fledged Google Play replacement, ANO said it's working on it. "At the moment, our task is to make it possible for users to buy familiar applications," to which end ANO is "actively recruiting developers to connect to our platform."
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Russia has been hit hard by Western sanctions since invading Ukraine in late February. Visa and Mastercard have suspended Russian operations, as did PayPal, Netflix and others. Major tech companies have also put a hold on business, with Apple and Samsung among those ceasing sales as well.
Apple's App Store hasn't shut its gates to Russia yet, though it has shut off Apple Pay and taken steps to close loopholes that let Russian users continue to use it after sanctions had gone into effect.
Zykov is well aware of the tenuous position Russia is in with Apple: "So far, they have not removed the ability to pay via mobile phone, although they have repeatedly stated that Apple has such plans … [we will] watch and wait."®