Google has a tough job keeping its Play Store free from bad apps and malicious creators. From keeping those apps from ever making it onto the service, to removing them if they actually do make it through, the company has its hands full. But such is the life of a tech company servicing billions of Android users, and Google continues to refine its process.
In 2017, Google took down more than 700,000 apps that violated company policies, a 70 percent increase over 2016, according to Google Play Product Manager Andrew Ahn. "Not only did we remove more bad apps, we were able to identify and action against them earlier. In fact, 99% of apps with abusive contents were identified and rejected before anyone could install them."
Ahn said the company has also removed more than 100,000 bad developers through better detection models and techniques, making it "more difficult for bad actors to create new accounts and attempt to publish yet another set of bad apps."
The removed apps fell into several categories:
- Copycats: attempting to deceive users by impersonating famous apps
- Inappropriate Content: such as pornography, extreme violence, hate, and illegal activities
- Potentially Harmful Applications: malware that can harm people or their devices
While Google Play Protect has been a help in weeding out many bad apps, Ahn acknowledges that Google still has work to do. "We know a few still manage to evade and trick our layers of defense," he said. "We take these extremely seriously, and will continue to innovate our capabilities to better detect and protect against abusive apps and the malicious actors behind them."
Indeed, Google has usually been fairly quick to respond to inappropriate content once it finds out about it. and given the creativity of bad developers looking to circumvent any process just to prove they can, the process is that much harder, especially with more than 3.5 million apps on the store as of the end of 2017.