Google cracks the whip on cryptocurrency miners and apps that add no value to users

Android can easily be deemed as a synonym for “choice”. There’s no other platform that is as diverse as Android is.

How diverse? Well, there are over 24,000 different devices from 1,300 brands that identify with the platform and rely on it to function properly. Additionally, there are over 1 million applications on the platform’s main and official app store, the Google Play Store.

As such, that comes with its own fair share of challenges in terms of providing a more uniform, consistent and centred user experience when it comes to both the hardware and the software. With the ever emerging threats on security, there are even more risks when the platform is as mature as it is today than in its earlier days. Google has been trying.

Part of Google’s resolve to be proactive has involved constantly being on the lookout of applications that flout the guidelines it has in place to guide developers and content creators on the kind of apps and other content that they avail to users through the Play Store. Apps that are found to be in violation of any of the guidelines are usually flagged and even deleted from the store.

Going forward, apps and games that are similar in functionality and content to those that already exist on the Play Store are not permitted. This is meant to reign in on lots of apps that are usually submitted to the Play Store for the sole purpose of making a quick buck for their developers and not necessarily to add value to end users as they either scrap and copy content from other already-existing applications or by not striving to bring anything new to the table.

With such a stance, it goes without saying that applications created using several of the various app creator services and templates out there won’t be going past the Play Store’s gatekeepers. Since the early days of Android, Google would accept apps developed using wizard services as long as they were submitted by a particular developer directly and not through the service they used to automatically create them. Now, it’s no longer permitted.

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Apps developed with the sole intention of just serving users with nothing more than ads are banned from the Play Store. As are apps that impersonate people or organizations and those that are not clear on their purpose or hide the identity of their owners.

Applications and games that identify as child-friendly but end up serving adult content will also be pulled from the Play Store, if at all they manage to find their way there in the first place. This is because they are also banned in the updated developer guidelines as unearthed by the hawk-eyed fellows at Android Police.

Things don’t end there. Apps that deal with firearms and their accessories are no longer welcome to the Play Store. On any other day, I’d say that this is probably aimed at gun-loving Americans but a recent survey’s findings have me looking at things a different way. There are probably some Kenyans who’ve been relying on such apps given that there are 750,000 firearms owned by civilians in the country, 70,000 of which have been acquired in the last two years alone.

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The biggest news, and I am happy that Google is doing this, is that cryptocurrency mining apps are not welcome to the Play Store.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and others are all the rage right now or have been for a little over a year now. In fact, chances are that whichever device you are using to read this article right now, someone has probably used its computing power to mine cryptocurrencies without your knowledge.

I won’t go into the fine details of cryptocurrencies and how they work (this article explains the Blockchain – the technology that makes it possible for cryptocurrencies to work and guarantee all the advantages that they have over traditional currency – in a good and easy-to-understand way) but it is because of this that Google is banning cryptocurrency miners from its content and app store.

It is impossible to want to provide an almost guaranteed user experience when apps that have the ability to hog system resources for the benefit of either the user or unrelated parties, lurk in the shadows.

Google has done this in the past but that was on its Chrome browser. Apple, whose app store is highly moderated and has a tight app approval process, unlike Google’s, already banned cryptocurrency miners last month. Good riddance!

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com