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Google made Amazon pull the app store hidden in its app

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Earlier this year, Amazon updated its official app in the Google Play Store — and snuck in a direct link to its own app store at the same time. Previously, users who wanted to use Amazon's app store had to sideload the app, a process that less tech-savvy users were likely to be familiar with, but this update let anyone install Amazon's app from the Google Play Store and start buying apps through it.

It looks like Google has gone ahead and closed that loophole, though — as noted by Android Police, the main Amazon app has been replaced by a new app called Amazon Shopping. It appears identical to its predecessor, but without the direct links to the Amazon app store. Indeed, we checked on a phone that already had the older Amazon app installed, and were still able to access the Amazon app store. But phones without that app already installed are out of luck.

Amazon confirmed that it removed these links to its app store because of Google's rules for the Play Store. According to Amazon, the change is due to a new update in Google's developer distribution agreement, but the company notes that anyone who wants the "full" Amazon Android experience can still download and sideload the app from the Amazon website. We reached out to Google for a comment and will update if the company offers a response.

Amazon's full statement is below:

We launched a new Amazon App for Android Phones on September 9 that provides an award-winning mobile shopping experience, enables customers to discover and purchase all of Amazon’s digital catalog, and provides customers access to the Prime Instant Video player and unlimited streaming of over 40,000 movies and TV episodes. Google subsequently changed their Developer Distribution Agreement on September 25. As a result, we removed the app from Google Play and published the Amazon Shopping app. Customers who want the best Amazon experience on their Android phone, including access to Prime Instant Video and Amazon’s entire digital catalog, can still get the Amazon App for Android Phones at amazon.com/androidapp.