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An app that helps remove China-made apps from your phone has gone viral (Update)
Update, June 2, 2020 (2:30 AM ET): Just yesterday, Remove China Apps had over a million downloads on the Google Play Store. Now, the app has crossed a whopping five million installs, though it’s not clear how many new downloads were registered yesterday.
However, users are still reporting that the app is unable to detect all applications originating from China. Addressing the feedback, the developers have posted the following message on their website:
Due to the high volume of feedbacks, we were not able to respond to all of feedbacks individually. We are working hard to improve our applications as per received feedbacks.
Meanwhile, a day later, Remove China Apps is still the top free app on the Google Play Store in India.
Original article, June 1, 2020 (6:33 AM ET): It’s not news that anti-China sentiments have recently picked up steam. The country has been at the center of the COVID-19 crisis and is on delicate footing when it comes to foreign relations with nations like India and the US. In the midst of this all, a new app called “Remove China Apps” emerged on the Google Play Store on May 17.
The app helps identify and remove apps made in China from your Android smartphones and in a matter of two weeks, has become the number one free app on the Google Play Store in India.
Remove China Apps now has over 1 million downloads, most of them from India. The app itself is made by an Indian startup named OneTouch AppLabs and its Play Store description reads that it’s “being developed for educational purposes only to identify the country of origin of a certain application.” However, the app only scans China-made apps, complete with an option to uninstall them from within the app.
The developers further write in the app description that they detect China-made apps based on market research. However, they do not guarantee the accuracy of the information.
We installed the app on a Pixel 3 and indeed, it recognized Xiaomi’s Mi Remote app and TikTok as the two apps originating from Chinese developers. However, it failed to include PUBG Mobile in the list, an app developed by China-based Tencent Games.
Users also report that the app does not identify pre-installed apps on Chinese smartphones and only takes into account the apps installed by users from the Play Store or any third-party store. So as you can see, Remove China Apps isn’t very accurate in its assessment of apps made by Chinese developers. It might not work on all phones in all countries either.
The app itself does not require you to create an account to use it. However, it does collect data such as your phone’s Android version, the number of clicks on the app’s features, the language you use on your device, the version code of apps you are using, time on your phone, and more.
Looks like the developers themselves are pretty new as Remove China Apps is the only app listed by them on the Play Store. A domain name lookup of their website also shows that it’s only 24 days old and went live on May 8.
Meanwhile, Google’s Play Store terms prohibit an app from interfering with other apps on a device. We’re uncertain if this guideline applies to Remove China Apps, but if it does, the app could be removed from the Play Store in the near future.