Android apps and games took huge leaps in 2018. We saw AAA game titles like Fortnite and PUBG hit Android. We also saw excellent new apps and services like Bouncer and YouTube Music. However, some apps and games simply didn’t have such good luck. There were a number of scandals and mistakes made in 2018. Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal immediately comes to mind, but that was more Facebook the service rather than Facebook the app. Some apps were removed from Google Play for silly reasons (that actually happens a lot). In any case, some incidents simply stand above the rest. We are happy to report that Uber managed to not make this list for the first time in this list’s history. Congratulations to Uber! Here are the five most controversial Android apps and games from 2018!
Ad fraud served two ways
Google Play had not one, but two big ad fraud problems in 2018. The first used bots to simulate real people. Here’s how it worked. A group of developers would purchase popular apps on Google Play from developers for Bitcoin. They would keep the app maintained and track user behavior. The developers would then create bots that emulated the human behavior they observed, except these bots also viewed ads along with doing the other stuff. The bots managed to avoid Google Play bot detection for a very long time. Hit the link above to find the full list of all 129 apps that did it. The reason this probably didn’t hit harder was because it didn’t actually affect any end users. It was essentially a bunch of developers defrauding advertisers. Still, that’s not great and many of those apps were available in the Play Store at the time the report took place.
The second ad fraud case was by several Cheetah Mobile apps. This one is a little less creative. Several Cheetah Mobile apps, including Kika Keyboard and CM File Manager, would read the apps installed on a user’s phone. CM would then take credit for all the apps the user installed and collected the advertising money. Cheetah Mobile swears up and down that it did not do anything and the advertising SDKs were to blame. However, Cheetah Mobile has pulled some deceptive ad tactics before so we don’t necessarily trust them. Google is still investigating as of the writing of this article so we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
Fortnite bucks the trends for better or worse
The biggest Android game narrative of 2018 was PUBG Mobile versus Fortnite. PUBG Mobile’s launch was fairly typical. It came out in Google Play, people enjoy it, and everything went as normal. Then Fortnite came around. To start, the game is not available on the Google Play Store. Instead, it opted for a launch on Epic Games’ own website along with Samsung’s app store. People lost their minds about it. The CEO called it a move to promote a free and open platform. It also stands as the biggest mobile game to do this. The installer had its share of problems, including a massive security issue early on. There was also that pesky problem of all the fake Fortnite APKs. The PUBG developers even sued Fortnite for stealing content, although that suit was eventually dropped. Things have smoothed out for now, but goodness Fortnite’s mobile game had a rough first six months.
Google shuts down all the things
The Google app library had a surprisingly rough year. Let’s start with Hangouts and make our way around the circle. Google Hangouts is reportedly changing from a single chat service to a group chat service similar to Slack or Discord. That reporting prompted a surprisingly aggressive Twitter conversation with a Hangouts developer. This puts an end to one of the few consistently decent chat services that Google had and the closest it ever came to a true Android version of iMessage. Google then shocked everybody by announcing the end of Google Allo. Many of Allo’s features are headed to Android Messages for now, but Allo is now officially circling the drain. Finally, Google is shuttering Google+ in 2019 after not one, but two major data breaches. It all leaves Google in a bit of a hole after it announced no major new apps in 2018. They did re-brand a bunch of stuff for no apparent reason, though. It’s been a surprisingly rough year for Google.
Telltale Games had an epic crash and burn
Telltale Games had some of the best point-and-click adventure games on mobile. They usually work with existing titles like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Minecraft, Borderlands, and others. Well, 2018 is probably its last year in existence. The company announced a massive layoff in mid-September that spared only 25 employees. The layoff also doubled as the announcement that the company was shuttering its doors. Telltale Games’ CEO Pete Hawley cited poor sales as the primary reason and that makes sense. The company simply didn’t generate as much buzz this year as they did in previous years. To make matters worse, the employees filed a class-action lawsuit against Telltale Games for unlawful termination, citing WARN laws. That lawsuit is in progress as of the writing of this article.
Google and Amazon are seriously still fighting
Amazon and Google have been competitors for a while. However, late 2017 saw things take a nasty turn for consumers when Google yanked YouTube from all Amazon Fire devices, starting with the Echo Show. This turned into a year long trench war that is only making things suck more for consumers who use both Amazon and Google products. Initially, Amazon promised to start selling Chromecasts again, which it only started doing again in early December 2018. That certainly didn’t help things. Both companies announced that talks were underway to restore YouTube to Amazon devices along with possibly some other stuff. While we definitely don’t mean to pry, we would love it if Amazon Prime Video received Chromecast support as well.
In any case, the companies broke off talks early into 2018 after Google intentionally made YouTube worse for Silk Browser, Amazon’s default browser. In March 2018, Amazon stopped selling Google’s Nest products. Of course, YouTube TV never made it to a Fire device either, so you can add that to the list too. This has gone on long enough and is now bordering on the absurd. We’re really hoping that Amazon selling the Chromecast helps bring an end to this ridiculous and long-winded problem sooner rather than later. Until the dust settles, we highly recommend just buying Roku or Nvidia Shield. Those devices don’t seem to be affected by this preposterous pissing match.
If we missed any controversial Android apps and games, tell us about them in the comments! Check out all of our Android app and game lists by clicking here!