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Google pulls down Remove China Apps, Mitron from Play Store for policy violation

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New Delhi: Google has removed from its app store  an Indian mobile application, ‘Remove China Apps’ that allowed users to delete Chinese games and other software from their Android smartphones, citing violation of its policies.

Alphabet Inc’s Google had previously removed Mitron app – the popular Indian alternative for China’s TikTok.

The two apps had drawn millions of downloads in India as border tensions between India and China surged.

Mitron app had over 5 million downloads. Developed by little-know OneTouch AppLabs, based in Jaipur, Remove China Apps had become a top trending free app on Google’s mobile app store in India with more than five million downloads since late May.

“Our global Play policies are designed to provide a safe and secure experience for our users while also giving developers the tools they need to succeed. When violations of these policies are identified, we have an established process of working with developers to help them find remedies,” Google spokesperson said in response to an e-mail query.

Remove China Apps helped users identify the country of origin for apps installed on the phone, highlighting Chinese ones and suggesting steps for removal.

Once deleted, a message popped up saying “You are awesome, no China app found.”

The app came in the limelight after innovator and educationist Sonam Wangchuk appealed to Indians to boycott Chinese products because of aggression by the Chinese army on the Indian border in the Ladakh region.

Mitron app may have been taken down due to security issues. Its owner Shibank Agarwal, a student of IIT Roorkee, bought the source code of the app from a Pakistani coding company, Qboxus and rebranded the app as Mitron and launched in India. The Pakistani version is called TicTic.

OneTouch AppLabs, the developer of Remove China Apps, on its website, said: “Google has removed ‘Remove China Apps’ from google play store.”

“Thank you all for your support in past 2 weeks. “You Are Awesome”,” it said, and went on to provide a workaround to the app being removed from Goople Play Store.

“TIP: It’s easy to find the origin of any app by searching on google by typing <AppName> origin country. Stay Tuned !! Stay Safe!!,” it said.

Remove China Apps is said to have been found with deceptive behaviour by Google Play.

Under this condition, Google Play removes an app if it attempts to “deceive users or enables dishonest behaviour including but not limited to apps that are determined to be functionally impossible”.

The deceptive behaviour note from Google Play says that apps must not attempt to mimic functionality or warnings from the operating system or other apps.

“Any changes to device settings must be made with the user’s knowledge and consent and be easily reversible by the user,” according to the guidelines.

Google Play is said to have removed video-sharing app Mitron for violation of guidelines related to spam and minimum functionality.

According to Google Play guidelines for spam and minimum functionality rules, “At a minimum, apps should provide users with a basic degree of functionality and a respectful user experience. Apps that crash, exhibit other behaviour that is not consistent with a functional user experience, or that serve only to spam users or Google Play are not apps that expand the catalog in a meaningful way.”



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