Chromium-based Kiwi Browser attracted widespread attention last month after it added support for desktop Chrome extensions. The app recently vanished from the Play Store, and while some assumed it was due to the browser's new extension support, it was apparently removed due to its ability to play YouTube videos in the background — functionality that is supposed to be reserved for the native YouTube app with a Premium subscription.
We reached out to the developer of Kiwi Browser, Arnaud Granal, who believes that the issue is more related to Google protecting Chrome market share than an actual policy violation:
Google Chrome itself can play any (including YouTube) videos in the background out of the box (just after ticking Desktop checkbox). Brave Browser has specific code and setting for background play on YouTube. [...] In theory Brave Browser should be 100% banned from the store now. If we take the definition more broadly (apps that can play YouTube in the background), Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera could be removed too.
Google told Granal that it is reviewing the removal. We reached out to the Google Play team, and we will update this post when we get a response.
Granal reached out to us again and said he and Google are now working on a resolution, so stay tuned.
Kiwi Browser's developer has told us the issue has been resolved. The app has been restored to the Play Store, but background play for YouTube has unfortunately been disabled to meet Google's requirements. At least fans of extensions in mobile browsers can get back to enjoying them.