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Titanium Backup back on Play Store, but app developers are growing concerned

App developers aren't feeling heard when it comes to the Google Play Store and its development policies.

Published onFebruary 27, 2019

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  • Popular Android app Titanium Backup was suddenly removed from the Play Store earlier this week.
  • With some assistance from Google, Titanium Backup has now been reinstated.
  • The sudden removal of the app brings up growing concerns among the development community.

Earlier this week, longstanding Android app Titanium Backup was suddenly removed from the Google Play Store. The app’s lead developer posted to Twitter asking TB fans for help in getting ahold of a human at Google who might be able to get the app reinstated.

Today, Titanium Backup is on the Play Store again. Per a series of tweets from the lead dev, a Google Play rep was able to explain more clearly why Titanium Backup was removed and what needed to be done to get it back up and running.

It turns out, the primary issue stemmed from instructions linked in the app that helped users root their smartphones. This violates Play Store policies. Once Titanium Backup got this fixed up and tweaked some permission requests a bit, everything was fine.

Hi everyone, we’re happy to report that #TitaniumBackup is back on Play Store now!
(Let’s just hope it will last.)
A huge “Thank You” to our supporters!
Also thx to @GooglePlayDev for listening. Email is below (bullets 2-3 less interesting as version 405 is gone)
— Titanium Backup (@TitaniumBackup) February 27, 2019

However, app developers are growing more and more concerned with how much power Google Play (and the Apple App Store) have over their financial security. Titanium Backup, for example, has a paid version which the developer likely depends on for income. Even though the app was only off the Play Store for a few days, that’s still a few days where income was not generated.

The developer for ClockworkMod — another Android app based on rooting and system tweaks — took to Twitter last week to air some grievances about this very issue. According to him, the problem isn’t just that Google has the power to remove an app, but that when it does remove one, it can be sometimes unclear why it was removed. If a developer doesn’t understand the problem, then they can’t fix it.

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In his tweets, the ClockworkMod dev shows an email he received from Google when his app was temporarily removed. In the email, the section where reasons would be listed for the app’s removal is totally blank.

When things like this happen, it can be tough to “get a human” at Google who can actually give you the information you need to rectify the problem. Meanwhile, your app isn’t generating income and people who might have downloaded it will probably download something else.

In that ClockworkMod Twitter thread, several developers bring up the idea of unionizing to have more collective bargaining power over Google.

What do you think? Does Google have too much power over app developers? Or is this just the price devs have to pay to have their apps on the world’s largest app store? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

NEXT: Here’s how Google fought sketchy Play Store apps in 2018

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