Google has taken down the Assistant-integrated AutoVoice Action again, for the second time in a year. This time, the company claims the action "promotes content that advocates hate or violence or promotes discrimination," apparently because someone in Germany stringed together a clearly custom command that made the Assistant spout off some hate speech.
Google is reportedly gearing up for a crackdown on in-app purchases for apps distributed via the Play Store. Google has long required that developers give the company a cut of in-app purchases, but it hasn't strictly enforced that rule for big names like Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify, who all allow for billing and purchases in their apps separately from Google's required system. According to Bloomberg, the day of reckoning is coming, and Google will reportedly update its guidelines as soon as next week to further clarify the billing requirement ahead of more aggressive enforcement.
The popular open-source Reddit client Slide for Reddit is now back on the Play Store after being mistakenly pulled by Google on July 9th. The company initially claimed that the app violated the Play Store's "impersonation" policy. However, upon further review, the app was found to be compliant with Play Store policies, and the app's listing was reinstated today.
Slide for Reddit is a reasonably popular third-party, cross-platform, open-source Reddit client. In my humble opinion, it's the best one out there (don't @ me), but fans of the app may have noticed that it disappeared from the Play Store in the last couple of days. It turns out, the developer ran into a small problem with the app's rating, which, thanks to Google's stereotypically terrible developer support, quickly exploded into a full-blown suspension of the developer's account. (Update: And now it's back on the Play Store.)
Google has a serious problem with draconian, overreachingappremovalpolicies 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 history of draconian and arbitrarydecisions regarding developer infractions on the Play Store is extensivelydocumented. In this latest episode, the open-source torrent client LibreTorrent has been removed from the Play Store due to "spam," with Google claiming that the app is a low-quality duplicate of several others on the Play Store. The twist this time is that LibreTorrent is actually the original app, and it's the others that are the ad-filled "spam" clones.
The developer of a fairly popular file managing app that scours out latent APKs on a device is appealing the Play Store's decision to delist his app. Why did Google take action? From his inference of a rejection email, it was because the app allowed users to install APKs.
Late last year, Google decided it was time to crack down on apps requesting SMS and call log permissions. Ostensibly, exceptions would be granted for categories including backups and automation, but as of now, there are still gaps which cover legitimate use cases. While some popular apps like Tasker have successfully secured exemptions, others like Cerberus have not. Instead, they've decided to strip out those permissions or risk facing the wrath of Google's upcoming January 9th banhammer, killing associated functionality and disappointing millions of long-time users to adhere to the Play Store's new policy.
Google's history of providing support to Android developers that run into issues on the Play Store is pretty abysmal. If you have the clout of Facebook or Netflix, your whims are individually catered to, but independent developers get the short end of the automated-support stick. Yesterday, yet another indie Android app, Always On Display AMOLED, was kicked to the curb in what appears to be an overzealous, automated DMCA takedown, and in true Google fashion, the affected developer is left without recourse or a means for dispute.