Google Play details 2017 protections against copycat, inappropriate, & malware Android apps

Google rolls out update for 'Files Go' app, here are the new features

According to a new report, USA consumer spending in the top 10 SVOD mobile apps grew 77 percent in 2017 to around $781 million on the App Store and Google Play. Among total, 99 percent of apps were removed before anyone could install them.

Statista estimates there were 3.5 million apps on Google Play in December, so the 700,000 removed apps are a substantial figure.

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Google also notes that it took down 100,000 bad developers in 2017, and made it hard for bad actors to create new accounts and restrict attempt to publish yet another set of bad apps.

However, Google admits there is more work to be done, as evidenced by the Adult Swine bug: "Despite the new and enhanced detection capabilities that led to a record-high takedowns of bad apps and malicious developers, we know a few still manage to evade and trick our layers of defense". Unlike many online publications, we don't have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic. A Google rep told me that the Play team is applying Machine Learning more broadly, using it to identify not just bad apps but the developer networks that create them. When Google says that automation is "aiding the human reviewers in effectively detecting and enforcing on the problematic apps", we believe this change of tack could perhaps be the most crucial bit. For example, the launch of Google Play Protect "reduced the rate of PHA installs by an order of magnitude compared to 2016". There were tens of thousands of apps which fell into the inappropriate content category that includes hate speech, pornography, and illegal activities.

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These numbers were published today in an end-of-year report authored by Andrew Ahn, Product Manager of Google Play.

Google is also trying to control the potential damages caused by the apps installed from the third-party app stores.

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Google Play Protect took several security measures that were already present in Android and improved them. Potentially Harmful Applications are those that try to get your personal information. If there's a fix that requires a newer OS, you're stuck. The copycat apps are not real nor are they associated with the actual app or company. This means that if a user opens PDF file from inside Files Go app, it is possible to open that file in their favourite PDF app.

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