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Viral app Remove China Apps pulled from Play Store (Update: Google statement)

Update: As we expected, Google cites its longstanding Play Store TOS as the reasoning behind the removal.

Published onJune 4, 2020

Remove China Apps

Update, June 4, 2020 (12:08 PM ET): Google recently removed an Android app from the Play Store called Remove China Apps, which does exactly what you think it does. While it’s fairly clear that the app violates the Play Store’s TOS, Google still felt pressured to issue a public statement on the matter.

You can read the statement here in full, but here’s the important bit:

We also recently suspended a number of apps for violating the policy that we don’t allow an app that “encourages or incentivizes users into removing or disabling third-party apps or modifying device settings or features unless it is part of a verifiable security service”. 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 we believe is not in the best interest of our 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.

It is unlikely Remove China Apps will come back to the Play Store, but it’s possible other apps with similar features could make it to the store temporarily before going viral and then getting removed.

Original article, June 3, 2020 (02:01 AM ET): A new app called Remove China Apps went viral in India over the past week, becoming the top free app in the market. Now, it turns out that Google has taken action by pulling the app from the Play Store.

The app, which was downloaded over five million times, has been pulled because it violated the Play Store’s Deceptive Behavior Policy, according to TechCrunch. It seems like Remove China Apps fell afoul of the section regarding deceptive setting changes.

More specifically, Google says it doesn’t allow apps that mislead users into uninstalling or removing third-party apps/features. This section also specifically bars apps that “encourage or incentivize” users into removing third-party apps and features unless it’s a security app.

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Remove China Apps scans your phone’s list of apps and alerts you to any China-made apps on your device. The app also gives you the option of quickly deleting any offending apps. Presumably this latter feature is what caused Google to take action.

It’s not a complete surprise to see Remove China Apps pulled from the Play Store, as we initially noted that Google prohibits apps from interfering with other apps. Nevertheless, the removal of such a popular app is bound to provoke a response from many Indian users.

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