Many Android users are familiar with Aptoide, an alternative to the Google Play Store, which offers a selection of apps. The developers of the Aptoide app are known for the fact that they are a vocal critic of Google Play Store practices.
They filled their first EU antitrust complaint against Google company in 2014, becoming a part in a group of other developers which criticized how Google handles Android. After a lengthy investigation, the European Commission decided that Google was guilty of committing antitrust abuses and issues a significant $5 billion penalty for the tech giant. However, several developers, including the Portugal-based Aptoide devs, claim that the company hasn’t renounced its old ways.
Now, Aptoide started a campaign against Google that sparked by the fact that in the aftermath of the fine, Google deiced to ban Aptoide from the Android ecosystem. The app was flagged as a dangerous app, it was hidden on select devices, and users were asked to uninstall it. These steps led to a potential decrease in unique Aptoide users, which may have reached up to 20 percent.
Aptoide launched an online campaign against Google Play Store
Google Play Store Protect is advertised as built-in malware protection for Android devices, but Aptoide argues that it can use to limit the rights of the users. The online campaign describes the anti-competitive behavior in details and asks users to report abusive flags.
The drop in active users was estimated with the help of Google’s SafetyNet API, which can be used to query the classification of a specific app. While Aptoid has managed to secure new partnerships and engages with new user constantly, the artificial barrier hinders the ability to grow in the long run.
The website for the online campaign underlines the fact that Google reinforces its antitrust practices by breaching the freedom of the users. Since the app icon is hidden automatically by the system, there is no way to launch the app, even if the app is trusted manually. If users want to use Aptoid to install apps, they will have to disable Play Protect manually. As Google prepares to face antitrust charges in the US, other challenges may surface.
Tim M. Hill helped bring Digital-Overload from a weekly newsletter to a full-fledged news site by creating a new website and branding. He continues to assist in keeping the site responsive and well organized for the readers. As a writer to Digital-Overload, Tim mainly covers mobile news and gadgets.