All apk install functions will soon be removed

Support for Android version of Total Commander

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ghisler(Author)
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All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *ghisler(Author) »

Unfortunately Google has again sent me a warning that my app will be removed if I don't modify it within 7 days. The warning is:
DEVICE AND NETWORK ABUSE
Your app is not compliant with the Device and Network Abuse policy.

An app distributed via Google Play may not modify, replace, or update itself using any method other than Google Play's update mechanism. Likewise, an app may not download executable code (e.g. dex, JAR, .so files) from a source other than Google Play. This restriction does not apply to code that runs in a virtual machine or an interpreter where either provides indirect access to Android APIs (such as JavaScript in a webview or browser).

Apps or third-party code (e.g., SDKs) with interpreted languages (JavaScript, Python, Lua, etc.) loaded at run time (e.g., not packaged with the app) must not allow potential violations of Google Play policies.
I did block the installation of Total Commander's own APK when you click on it, but unfortunately the Google AI doesn't seem to detect this and just sees the APK install functions. Therefore I will unfortunately have to remove all APK installation functionality from the Play Store version. I will instead release a separate downloadable version which allows to install APK files. I'm very sorry for the inconvenience.

I tried to appeal, but all I got back were standard texts:
As mentioned previously, your app (APK versions 1031, 1032, 1033, 1034, 1035 and 1036) causes users to download or install applications from unknown sources outside of Google Play.
It's very strange that this is now forbidden, even Chrome and all other well-known file managers can install apk files.

This is very unfortunate and will certainly cause a lot of 1 star reviews. I will probably have to remove the app from the Play Store entirely because of the bad reputation.
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *ghisler(Author) »

Thanks, I'm following the Android sub on Reddit and already saw your thread.

The problem is that the warning sent by Google (which I quoted above) is very vague, they don't explain how exactly my app is "updating itself". There is no auto-updater in my app. I tried adding a check in the apk installer so it doesn't install my own (Total Commander) apk even when the user tries to do it, but then got a second warning a week later (same words, no explanations). Other developers have described that they were banned from the Play Store and even lost their GMail and Youtube accounts after 3 warnings, so I didn't want to risk that and removed the apk installer as a whole. There is no chance for a small developer like us to contact a real person at Google to get this resolved.
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *Connor »

I don't think this rule applies to browsers.

"This restriction does not apply to code that runs in a virtual machine or an interpreter where either provides indirect access to Android APIs (such as JavaScript in a webview or browser)."
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *georgeb »

Good riddance! Google-Play-Store that is!

However I can understand that a (small) developer cannot afford to dump a source of income light-heartedly. On the other hand, given Googles impertinence and intrusive stance towards even their loyal base of professional partners/developers, I can hardly imagine that any app distributed via that "Moloch-platform" would pay back a fortune.

And yes, bad reputation might become a problem. Moreover, if they "smell the rat" of an uncrippled version of that same app distributed via (in their opinion) "renegade-channels", they might be inclined to further retaliate against you.

So my personal advice would be to de-facto split the applications apart. Play-store itself has often offered 2 versions in the past, one free and an enhanced "pro-version" at a small extra cost. Although I've observed some "pro-versions" vanish from the store as of lately with only the leaned-down free versions remaining. Don't know why that is, presumably b/c of Googles greed and meanness, but then again it doesn't matter.

So why not rename the Google-compliant free Play-Store-version to something like "Lean-Commander-Android", thereby not concealing its limitations and subsequently giving reviewers no reason for voting it down.

On the other hand TC has always had a reputation as a genuine power-tool for power-users. And in that tradition you might want to start distribution of a payed TC-pro-Android-version without any Google-restrictions exclusively via your own website "ghisler.ch" following the pattern of TC-Win. Now I am no lawyer, but my assumption would be that 2 separate applications with different names would make it very hard for Google to retaliate against the one distributed without any connection to Play-Store at all. But the Play-Store-version then might still work as an appetizer to make the full version well-known to all the Android-users worldwide.
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *Usher »

georgeb wrote: 2022-05-18, 01:22 UTC something like "Lean-Commander-Android"
Subtotal Commander ;-P
Regards from Poland
Andrzej P. Wozniak
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *clever_man »

ghisler(Author) wrote: 2022-05-16, 10:25 UTCAs mentioned previously, your app (APK versions 1031, 1032, 1033, 1034, 1035 and 1036) causes users to download or install applications from unknown sources outside of Google Play.
Hi, maybe you need just remove links for direct downloading plugins from your site? Seems that Google thinks that is unknown source.
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *white »

Nice article and well written.
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *ghisler(Author) »

Hi, maybe you need just remove links for direct downloading plugins from your site? Seems that Google thinks that is unknown source.
I already removed them, do you still see them somewhere?
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *clever_man »

ghisler(Author) wrote: 2022-05-18, 12:11 UTC I already removed them, do you still see them somewhere?
When I'm tapping on "+Add plugins(download).." on the main screen, I get dialog with button "OK" that opening direct link in a browser to the site with plugins.
I think it is forbidden.
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *ghisler(Author) »

Are you using the downloaded apk version? It does indeed show download links when there is no Play Store on the device.

The Play Store version shows an included html file with only Play Store links in the internal WebView.
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *gemeenteraadslid »

Aww f- Google. I install apks quite often (Tasker beta, Microsoft SMS organizer, MTG Forge card game) and have no idea what to do now.
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *ghisler(Author) »

2gemeenteraadslid
Why not use the download version too?
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Re: All apk install functions will soon be removed

Post by *nbsp »

I noticed that under the last entry "+ Add plugins (download)..." there is the text "www.ghisler.com". Maybe this is what they refer to by "unknown source".
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