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.
Editor's note: the first three paragraphs of this story are a brief primer on fair use in US copyright law and the complications created by the DMCA. Skip down if you're already familiar with this stuff.
The United States copyright system has a series of protections for citizens who want to use video, audio, text quotes, and other copyrighted material in legitimate ways. These are generally called fair use exemptions: they're why Saturday Night Live can make a parody of Jeopardy or The Big Bang Theory without the fear of CBS suing them for copyright infringement, or why a movie reviewer can use clips of the movie in his video critique.
Last night, we received a tip that the Play Store listing for AirDroid, a popular app that allows users to see notifications, respond to messages, and manage content from their Android devices on a desktop, had been removed from the Play Store. The listing was directing to Google's infamous "Not Found" page.
We reached out to the AirDroid team who, at the time, were still trying to figure out what had happened. As it turns out, Google had removed the listing after a mass-complaint from Facebook. The sweeping set of complaints picked up tons of apps with "WhatsApp" in their names, but also apps - like AirDroid - that simply mentioned WhatsApp in the description.
Feel free to change the channel if you've seen this one before, but the widely used SeriesGuide app has disappeared from Google Play. This piece of phone and tablet-friendly software is great for tracking which episodes and series you've watched and keeping up with new releases. Earlier today the developers sent out a tweet alerting users to the app's removal.
SeriesGuide was removed from Google Play for violation of its Content Policy. Submitted an appeal and waiting for a response.
Update: To the developer's surprise, Google has returned D-GLES to the Play Store. People who bought it in the past no longer need to send emails requesting updates, and those who have purchased the Amazon version will continue to get new releases going forward. The latest one adds support for Amazon Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick.
Doom took the gaming world by storm in the early 90s, so when developer id Software open sourced the game's code later in the decade, fans of the groundbreaking first-person shooter rushed to port the title to whichever platforms they wished.
Just about a year ago we reported that the popular multi-platform retro gaming emulator RetroArch had been published to the Play Store. Apparently Google took exception to this, as they've done with a seemingly random assortment of game emulators - some have been viciously torn out of the Play Store, some have been left alone, and Google isn't talking about why it picks one over the other. In any case, RetroArch is back, at least for the moment.
RetroArch is multi-platform in every sense of the word - the open-source emulator itself has versions available for Windows, OSX, Linux, jailbroken iOS, Raspberry Pi, and even game consoles from the original Xbox to the Nintendo Wii.
A French image processing company by the name of DxO Labs has filed a DMCA takedown request targeting 12 GitHub repositories containing device-specific code for ROMs, most of them maintained by CyanogenMod team members. The notice is vague, only citing:
 I have a good faith belief that the file downloads identified below (by URL) are unlawful under these copyright laws because among other things, the files circumvent effective access controls and/or copyright protection measures;
Content Type: "Custom Firmware" files
Violation(s): Trafficking a device that circumvents effective access controls and/or trafficking a device that circumvents effective copyright protection measures.
This may not be strictly Android-related news, but it's safe to say that what Google does to search results is relevant to our readers' interests, no? Today, Google announced via its Inside Search blog that the company will start including the volume of valid copyright removal notices as a factor in determining how high or low a site ranks in its search results. Translation: pirate sites won't be removed entirely, but they'll start ranking lower than legitimate sites.
Pretty soon, sites like the Pirate Bay won't be the #1 search result anymore.
The net effect of this change will likely be very minimal to the more hardcore pirates.