Aptoide store on a smartphone.

One of the best things about Android is the ability to install apps from anywhere, allowing you to side-step the Play Store if you want to. Now, one prominent third-party app store has launched a campaign against Google, saying the Mountain View company is hampering consumer freedom.

On its Google Play Fair website, Aptoide wrote: “Since summer 2018, Google Play Protect flags Aptoide as a harmful app, hiding it in users’ Android devices and requesting them to uninstall it. Google Play Protect is Google’s built-in malware protection software for Android, but we believe the way it works damages users’ rights.”

The company says the move “eliminates” healthy competition.

The team has disputed Google’s move, citing a study by a Japanese university that found Aptoide’s content is the safest. It also claimed that major anti-virus firms haven’t found malware on its store, adding that Google hasn’t given a reason for it being flagged as a harmful app.

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For what it’s worth, Aptoide also hosts more than a few pirated games and apps. Some of the more prominent ones we’ve spotted include the Monument Valley series, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Minecraft. It’s unclear whether this could be the reason for Google apparently blocking the app. It’s also worth noting that a colleague and I were able to install Aptoide just fine on our phones.

We’ve contacted Aptoide and Google for comment regarding the matter and will update the article when we receive a response from the companies.

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