Last week, Google quietly removed at least 46 apps from the Play store belonging to iHandy, a major Chinese mobile developer, but won’t comment on why it took action against the company.
The iHandy removals, which had not been previously reported, are yet another example of Google taking action against a major Chinese app developer, further raising concerns about the ad and privacy practices of Android developers based in that country.
iHandy, a Beijing-based company, filed documents earlier this year to be listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. It describes itself as “one of the world’s largest mobile application developers” and says it has 180 million monthly active users in more than 200 countries.
Google removed at least 46 iHandy apps, including selfie, security and antivirus, keyboards, horoscopes, emoji, and health apps, from the Android Play store that in total had been downloaded in the aggregate tens of millions of times. One of the most popular was “Sweet Camera — Selfie Beauty Camera, Filters,” which had been downloaded more than 50 million times alone.
It’s unclear what caused Google to take action against iHandy, and why it won’t provide a reason for the removals from Google Play and its ad network.
The Google rep also confirmed the removed iHandy apps are no longer being monetized using Google’s ad network. In its filing to go public, iHandy listed Google as its biggest customer in 2018, which suggests the Silicon Valley giant’s ad network is iHandy’s single largest source of revenue.