Google on Thursday said it suspended some apps from its Play Store after it found that the applications were misleading users into removing or disabling third-party apps, which is a violation of its policy. The matter pertains to the search engine giant taking down applications Mitron and Remove China Apps from the Android store.
The clarification from the US-headquartered company comes at a time when anti-Chinese sentiment is high in the country, especially after the Coronavirus pandemic and the border skirmishes between Indian and Chinese soldiers on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Google said the Play Store has been designed to give consumers a safe and secure experience and to create a platform for developers to build sustainable businesses. The firm did not take the name of any of the apps that it removed.
Sameer Samat, vice-president of Android and Google Play, in a blog post said that a number of recent app removals received particular attention in India and the company wanted to clarify on its actions.
“We also recently suspended a number of apps for violating the policy that we don’t allow an app that encourages or incentivises users into removing or disabling third-party apps or modifying device settings or features unless it is part of a verifiable security service,” he added.
Samat stressed that this is a longstanding rule designed to ensure a healthy, competitive environment where developers can succeed based upon design and innovation. When apps are allowed to specifically target other apps, it can lead to behavior that one believes is not in the best interest of the community of developers and consumers.
“We’ve enforced this policy against other apps in many countries consistently in the past — just as we did here,” he pointed out.
Remove China Apps gained around 5 million downloads on Play Store in less than a month before being suspended. Developed by Jaipur-based OneTouch AppLabs, it helps users identify and Chinese-origin apps.
The other app, Mitron, which got more than 5 million downloads within a month during May and is considered a homegrown replacement for the famous Chinese short video-posting app, TikTok. Developed by an IIT Roorkee student, the app is understood to have purchased the app’s source code from a Pakistani coding firm, Qboxus.
“We hope this helps clarify the rationale behind these recent actions. We thank our developers for all the amazing work they do and our consumers for their continued support in helping to create a safe and secure mobile app ecosystem,” Samat said in the blog post.