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Google boots 46 (more) shady apps from the Play Store

Google seems to be more actively policing the Android Play Store of late, and has booted off popular apps for shady practices seemingly every week. A new report by Buzzfeed News suggests the company is continuing its spree with yet another big takedown.

Google has abruptly pulled a staggering 46 apps from a single China-based developer called iHandy. Google has yet to share an explanation behind the removal. Therefore, it’s unclear whether the apps, which collectively have tens of millions of downloads, were found to be involved in any malicious activities.

A Google spokesperson told BuzzFeed that the investigation is ongoing and confirmed iHandy apps have been also banned from the search engine giant’s ad network.

We’ve reached out to both Google and iHandy for additional details and will update this story if we hear back.

Similar to a few previous cases, iHandy’s range of apps too offer generic features such as virus protection, selfie filters, virtual keyboards, horoscopes, and more. One of them titled “Sweet Camera – Selfie Beauty Camera, Filters” has been downloaded more than 50 million times. Interestingly, 8 other iHandy apps are still available on the Play Store.

iHandy’s vice president, Simon Zhu, assured BuzzFedd that the company is “willing to follow these [Play Store policies] improvements as a developer in good standing.”

“It is an unexpected action from our point of view. We are trying to find out the reasons. Hope the apps will be back to Play Store as soon as possible. As we all know that in recent years, Google keeps improving policies and processes to build a healthier ecosystem for users and developers,” he added.

In a filing on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, iHandy revealed it has about 180 million monthly active users. The document also listed Google as its biggest customer last year, hinting the mobile ad network is responsible for a significant chunk of iHandy’s revenue.

In the last couple of years, Google has placed Play Store security at the forefront of its efforts, with a series of more stringent policies. However, it seems like there’s still quite a lot of room for improvement as rogue apps continue to evade these rules and run loose.

Earlier this week, Google removed a handful of adware apps with over 1.5 million downloads. Widely adopted document-scanning, CamScanner app was also discovered with malicious code which was capable of executing and downloading additional malware files on its own in the background.

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