Google has a serious problem with draconian, overreaching app removal policies in the Play Store. Instead of taking the time to discuss minor issues with developers, the company loves to use a sledgehammer to crack the nuts. The latest app to take the hit is FX File Explorer, a popular file manager with more than 5 million downloads and a 4+ rating. It has been removed without warning because it allegedly sports deceptive ads, which is not true as far as we can tell.

Google's email to the developer. The survey at the bottom adds insult to injury.

Google seems to have a problem with a Play Store link to the free and open-source Faenza Icon package in the Themes section, accessible via the Get FX Plus entry in the app's settings. The pack is offered by the same developer as the file explorer itself. It's clearly explained what it is and what it does, and the "Go to Store" and "Screenshot" buttons take you exactly where you'd expect them to take you. There's nothing deceptive to be seen here, and since the icon theme is a free open-source first-party extension of the app, it's debatable if you can really call it an ad in the classic sense at all.

The "deceptive ad" in question points to a free first-party icon theme for FX Explorer in the Play Store.

For what it's worth, Google's website with examples of deceptive ads show apps that behave completely differently. They hijack your screen with pop-ups warning of viruses on your device, send you special offers as notifications, or surface unexpected ads when you tap an innocent-looking button. It's obvious that FX File Explorer doesn't do any of that.

Google really needs to get its act together and find less tone-deaf solutions for minor alleged offenses. Many of these potentially livelihood-wrecking misunderstandings could be avoided if the company first communicated with developers and gave them a chance to address or appeal a decision before outright removing their products.

If you want to download the app while it's not available in the Play Store, just head to APK Mirror.

FX File Explorer back on the Play Store

Good news: FX File Explorer is back on the Play Store. The developer reports that the new version is identical to the one they published a few months ago – no changes have been made. The issue was only resolved after they got past the Play Store's automated emails and answers and managed to contact a "real person."

Google really needs to fix this process.

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  • osm0sis