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Why is Google hiding this app? (Update: App went live by mistake)
Updated, November 6, 2020 (17:53 PM): Google got back to Android Authority with an explanation about the app described below. As it turns out, this app first became active in July of this year, but only in Kenya. In that country, Google partnered with companies to get Android Go phones to people who otherwise couldn’t afford one. The Device Lock Controller app is thus intended to help creditors prevent defaulted loans for those devices.
However, a Google spokesperson said that this app wasn’t supposed to be active in the United States. It was mistakenly uploaded to the US version of the Play Store, which is why it appears new to us and why it does not appear on the list with other Google LLC apps.
The original article speculating on the Device Lock Controller app is below.
Original article: If you want to find all the Android apps Google has created, you can just visit the Google LLC page on the Play Store. However, for unknown reasons, you won’t find one of its newest apps on that list (h/t XDA-Developers).
The new app is called Device Lock Controller. Here is the official description from its Play Store page:
Device Lock Controller enables device management for credit providers. Your provider can remotely restrict access to your device if you don’t make payments. If your device is restricted, basic functionality, such as emergency calling and access to settings, will still be available.
In brief, the app allows lenders to limit the functionality of Android devices owned by borrowers. Theoretically, you could buy a smartphone through a lender and that lender could pre-install this app. If you defaulted on your loan, the lender could then shut down specific functions of your phone until you rectify the situation.
This app is a very strange new avenue for Google. It’s additionally strange that this app is hidden away on the Play Store, separated from the rest of the Google LLC products. We reached out to Google to get some clarity on this but didn’t immediately hear back.