Google on Tuesday announced that Google Play in 2017 took action against "bad apps" by eliminating apps and developer accounts from the platform. The tech giant claims to have used machine learning to identify bad apps with identifiers like impersonation, inappropriate content, and malware to root out over 700,000 apps and 100,000 developers in 2017, which is a 70 percent jump from the preceding year. "In fact, 99 percent of apps with abusive contents were identified and rejected before anyone could install them," was a claim mentioned on Android Developers Blog.
Google, on its Android Developers Blog, states that impersonators or 'copycats' are the most common red signal for removing apps from Google Play. In 2017 alone, the Mountain View giant removed as much as 250,000 apps that were caught impersonating big titles. The impersonators carried out this practice through deceptive methods such as "confusable unicode characters or hiding impersonating app icons in a different locale."
Much like any other Safe For Work public platform online, Google Play does not allow any kind of inappropriate content. Inappropriate content, according to the company's definition, includes pornography, extreme violence, illegal activities, and hate. Google claims that its advanced machine learning models help quickly sift through app submissions and flag them for inappropriate content. Human reviewers then jump into the scene, with tens of thousands of apps removed in the past year.
And, finally, another red flag for Google is the presence of Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs) that can cause harm to device users. Apps involved in phishing, fraud, and Trojans are part of this list. The tech giant claims PHAs are currently small in volume but research to remove them is being heavily invested in. With the launch of Google Play Protect - Google's malware scanning feature - at I/O 2017, the annual PHA installs have apparently gone down by 50 percent year on year, the company said.
"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 defence. 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. We are committed to make Google Play the most trusted and safe app store in the world," said Andrew Ahn, Product Manager at Google Play.