Google Play Removed 700,000 Bad Apps Last Year
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Thursday, 08 February 2018

Google says it removed more than 700,000 apps that broke the rules on Google Play last year, 70 percent more than the previous year. The apps that were removed violated the policies on Google Play for a number of reasons.

Writing about the removal on the Android Developers Blog, Andrew Ahn, Product Manager for Google Play, said the removals had:

"more than halved the probability of a user installing a bad app, protecting people and their devices from harm's way, and making Google Play a more challenging place for those who seek to abuse the app ecosystem for their own gain."

In fact, 99 percent of apps with abusive contents were identified and rejected before anyone could install them. Google managed this thanks to:

"significant improvements in our ability to detect abuse - such as impersonation, inappropriate content, or malware - through new machine learning models and techniques."

Google also made use of detection models and techniques that can identify repeat offenders and abusive developer networks at scale.

The types of inappropriate apps makes interesting reading. The first group were 'copycat' apps that try to confuse would-be buyers of famous apps by using confusable unicode characters or hiding impersonating app icons in a different locale. This type of app accounted for more than a quarter of a million of the apps removed, a third of the total.

The second group of apps to be removed fell into the category of having inappropriate content such as pornography, extreme violence, hate, and illegal activities. Andrew Ahn, said that:

"The improved machine learning models sift through massive amounts of incoming app submissions and flag them for potential violations."

The final category for removal was Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs), a type of malware that can harm people or their devices, such as apps that conduct SMS fraud, act as trojans, or phishing user's information. The team at Google stresses that this group is small in volume, and is also more difficult to find as malicious developers go the extra mile to make their app look as legitimate as possible. The average annual PHA installs rates on Google Play was reduced by 50 percent from the previous year, largely due to the launch of Google Play Protect in 2017. Google Play Protect is Google’s security services for Android that is built into all devices with Google Play.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 19 September 2018 )