Facebook eyes an Android end run around Google

Tensions between the tech giants have led the social network to cook up contingency plans for its apps, according to a report.

Will Facebook apps and Android peacefully coexist in the future?

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For Facebook and Google, Android could be a battleground.

Tensions between the tech titans have been bubbling away for several years, says a report in The Information. According to the tech journal, Facebook is quietly preparing for the eventuality that it comes to blows with Google and needs to exist on Android even without its maker's blessing.

Social-networking giant Facebook makes apps that are among the most popular on smartphones, including the millions that run on Google's Android operating system. It also has ambitions to be the gateway to the online realm for you and just about everyone you know, a role that long has been the strong point of search powerhouse Google.

Menlo Park, California-based Facebook has plans, for instance, to expand its own search capabilities, and for many users, it has become a de facto source of news. With nearly 900 million people accessing Facebook from mobile devices every day, the social network carries a great deal of weight. Any significant interruption to the service could be devastating.

Periodically, Facebook has sought to exercise greater control over its apps on Android, provoking clashes with Mountain View, California-based Google, which in the past has threatened to drop Facebook from its Google Play app store, according to unnamed sources cited in The Information's report.

Because of those tensions, Facebook has been putting together contingency plans, the report said. For instance, the company has examined ways to let Android users download a Facebook app directly from the social network, rather than via the Google Play store. Ideas for how this might work were discussed by Facebook as recently as the end of last year, according to the report.

Another approach would be to give wireless carriers the option of preloading Facebook's own specially built Android software onto phones.

It's even gone this far, according to The Information's report: Facebook several years ago conducted an experiment in which it deliberately crashed its own Android app, for hours at a time, to see if users would stick with the social network even in confusing circumstances. (They did.)

A Facebook spokesman declined to comment for this story. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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