A company snapping up a popular Android developer can be a precursor to shenanigans. And shenanigans aren't anything new for Treydev Inc, a Romanian developer which we've reported on before. The dev makes popular custom user interfaces that mimic the behavior of Android device maker skins. Earlier this year Treydev's most popular apps were switched over to the developer account for ZipoApps, a holding company with a few dozen apps on the Play Store of varying function and quality.
This looks like ZipoApps either straight-up acquired Treydev, or Treydev sold its most popular apps to ZipoApps. At the moment Treydev's Play Store account has only one app listed, Mi Control Center, and it's already showing the ZipoApps developer account on its actual listing page. The moved apps are as follows:
Between them, the five apps have more than 13 million total installations.
ZipoApps seems to have wasted no time making the former Treydev apps its own. Recent user reviews complain of extensive, intrusive ads, increasing bugs, and ridiculous premium plans. The apps have been flooded with recent 1- and 2-star reviews, all complaining of much the same thing.
Trying out the most popular among them, Mi Control Center, at least some of the complaints seem more than justified. Upon first launch the app immediately asks you to upgrade to a pro version for $29.99 a month - $360 a year - to unlock "Custom Backgrounds, Advanced Settings, and Remove Ads." (Clearing cache and re-launching the app offered different price structures: $20 a month or $100 a year.) Trying the limited version opens a video ad (with full volume) right away. Banner ads appear in most of the menu screens.
According to the Internet Archive, the move from Treydev to Zipo happened sometime in May or earlier. Before that, Mi Control Center's monetization ranged from a little less than one Euro to €7.49. Today, the same app's IAPs range from $0.99 - $149.99. A hundred and fifty bucks is unaccountably steep for an app that replicates an iOS-style notification shade. The reviewers' complaints seem to be well-founded.
We've reached out to TreyDev and ZipoApps for comment, and will update this story if we hear from either party.
According to one Treydev fan, the sale of these apps to Zipo occurred back in March, after which the latter immediately began to integrate huge subscription fees, intrusive advertisements, and new bugs to boot. The original author is aware of the issues, but control is entirely out of their hands. Others are allegedly attempting to recreate the apps via reverse engineering.
Neither Treydev nor ZipoApps have responded to our inquiries.