Over 813,000 apps removed from Apple’s App Store and Google Play in the first half of 2021



A new report from analytics firm Pixalate reveals that more than 813,000 apps were removed from Apple’s App Store and Google Play in the first half of 2021. There are some common themes among these deleted apps, including most importantly, the vast majority (86%) targeted children.

Apple’s App Store had a separate issue with a lack of privacy policies (59%), despite recent mandatory platform privacy changes. Google Play‘s area of ​​focus was unsafe permissions (66%) that could potentially skim personal information or locally saved data from users’ devices.

Apple App Store and Google Play remove apps for targeting children, no terms of service

Pixalate’s study does not follow the specific reason given by the Apple App Store or Google Play for the deletion (something that is not always made available to the public). Instead, it examines deleted apps for indicators that may have raised a red flag with either of the app stores.

A preponderance of these warning signs, however, is a strong indication that Apple and Google are watching them. The main headline is that child safety is in the crosshairs of both companies, with 86% of all apps removed on both platforms targeting users 12 and under. An even more common problem is the lack of a privacy policy; 94% of deleted apps did not have one, although Apple’s App Store now requires it.

Each of the app stores also had their own issues. Failure to include an adequate privacy policy and / or terms of service was, surprisingly, much more common among apps removed from Apple’s App Store (59% vs. 25% for Google Play). That’s a somewhat unexpected result given Apple’s heavy push for user privacy from the iOS 14 update series, something it has leaned into so hard it has alienated a good part of its advertising activity.

Jay Seirmarco, senior vice president of operations and legal affairs for Pixalate, explained how apps still manage to get listed while missing key required elements like a privacy policy: “Apple requires all apps from the App Store have a privacy policy as of October 2018. Data shows apps without a privacy policy are at a higher risk of being removed from Apple’s App Store, but many apps without a privacy policy still remain – 16% of apps in the first half of 2021 in the App Store don’t seem to have a privacy policy, according to Pixalate estimates. Google, Apple’s biggest competitor in the app ecosystem, still doesn’t require app privacy policies on the Google Play Store. The requirement will not be available on the Google App Store until April 2022. “

Android apps are more likely to have dangerous permissions

On the flip side, Android apps were more likely to have at least one unsafe permission: 66% of apps deleted from Google Play, compared to just 8% from Apple’s App Store. The study defines “dangerous permissions” as a list of 30 functions very subject to abuse: these include automatic writing to external storage, initiating a phone call without going through the dialer, audio recording and read / write to the contact list. .

Not all deleted apps were rinky-dink software downloaded by only a few hapless souls. The study documented around 20,000 apps that had at least 100,000 user downloads before delisting. In total, deleted apps were downloaded 9.2 billion times in the first half of this year. Additionally, they collectively had around 21.8 million user reviews before the deletion. Apps removed in Asia tended to have the highest ratings before being phased out: China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea were the first four countries to give apps removed before their demise a high rating, and Japan and Taiwan were also in the top 10.

While both platforms had an equal frequency of missing terms of service (94% in both cases) and Apple’s App Store was much more likely to lack a privacy policy, the sketchy Google Play apps were much more likely to list a questionable problem. unprofessional email address (69% vs. 8%). This may be due to tighter control and oversight in the initial Apple App Store approval process.

Apps don’t necessarily have to list a country of registration, and removed apps took full advantage – 74% didn’t bother to list an address. Of the few who did, the majority were in the United States (6%) or India (4%). There was a fairly wide distribution across the rest of the world, with no country reaching 1%.

The United States was also the leader in apps removed with dangerous permissions, at 74%. Some other countries were very close: UK, India and South Korea were all over 70%. 25% of apps removed from the list in the US had access to the camera. Microphone access was most common in South Korea (15%), but the United States and China were not far behind (13%).

The most popular Google Play apps among those that were removed were from Google itself: Cloud Print (1 billion downloads), Google Japanese Input, and Google PDF Viewer (100 million each). This does not necessarily mean that these applications compromise the devices; the most likely explanation is that they have been flagged to have at least one questionable clearance. Cloud Print was scuttled by Google in January because it was primarily used for printing to Chrome devices, which gained native printing capability at the start of the year. PDF Viewer was also deprecated after Chrome received this feature.

Android apps were more likely to have at least one unsafe permission: 66% of apps removed from Google Play, compared to just 8% from Apple’s App Store. #privacy #respectdataClick to Tweet

The most popular of the apps removed from Apple’s App Store came mainly from China and none came from Apple itself, but “Word Streak With Friends” from popular game maker Zynga made the top 10.



About Author

Leave A Reply