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Google crackdown catches innocent devs in the crossfire (wired.co.uk)
242 points by crm114 on Aug 3, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 118 comments

Once again there is no way to contact a human being.

Once again we hope that getting publicity on blogs will catch the attention of someone at Google who can do something about it.

This time, I'd like someone to tell me why it was impossible for the dev to remedy this through the normal channels and tell us what Google are going to do to stop this happening again.

I agree with the poor support channels.

But remember the people generating publicity on blogs, because their Google+ account was deleted? Then it turned out they used a company name as their profile name, posted underage nudity, or otherwise violated the rules.

The blog assumes the developers are innocent and abiding by the developer rules. But can we take this assumption for a fact?

For all we know the developers might have been offering incentives to write reviews. The developers might have send account activation emails from a spammy host.

The email they received from Google isn't published, only described as vague. A tweet mentions "repetitive content".

  Spam and placement in store
  Do not post repetitive content
If you currently search for "RPG" ( https://play.google.com/store/search?q=rpg&c=apps ) 4 games from the top 9 are by 'Cory Trese'. All have near duplicate descriptions. They have 4 versions of a single game "Star Traders RPG".

I wouldn't look at update frequency or an algo fluke as the culprit, but look how I could remedy this apparent repetition, both in game versions and game descriptions.

He has two version of Templar Assault and Cyber Knights (paid and free) and three versions of Star Traders (paid, free, lite).

Many big-name games do this (you can choose between a paid version and a free, ad-supported version). Rovio released an Angry Birds Lite for a while when they were having performance issues on lower-end devices.

Assuming this behavior does break the rules (which is not a given), the rules are still enforced very inconsistently, with no recourse.

Star Traders International is the third version. It contains a community translation to six languages done by volunteers. We didn't feel right selling donated work.

Star Traders Mini is a super stripped down low resolution version that is 1/7 the size of RPG. Tiny downloads are appreciated by some users, but can't be combined with full size editions.

The other two are basic freemium Paid/Free.

Having actually played these games (particularly Cyber Knights which is an absolutely brilliant CyberPunk/ShadowRun tribute), I support these developers. I was highly skeptical when I first played the Star Traders game because the website wasn't the greatest, but after having played the games, I went and downloaded all their other stuff as well. I can see how it would be easy to dismiss them, but the algorithm is just wrong in this case.

Things would be a lot easier if Google just stated clearly what the alleged breach is. Google seems to think that saying too much enables the bad guys to tune their algorithms. That may be true, but I think it's the smaller problem.

Explaining exactly what behaviour should be stopped may make Google's arms race with the bad guys a little bit more difficult but it makes things a lot easier for everyone else without causing the kind of costs that human intervention would.

What they do now is basically security by obscurity.

But remember the people generating publicity on blogs, because their Google+ account was deleted? Then it turned out they used a company name as their profile name, posted underage nudity, or otherwise violated the rules.

It sucks for people running into legitimate issues, but I've learned to develop a bias over the years for these types of stories (especially when the word "ban" comes into play).

The vast, vast majority of people who complain about being banned from one service or another are either straight up lying, or leaving out crucial details to make their story sound sympathetic. Again, this ruins it for people that have legitimate grievances, but that's so rarely the case it's a lot more useful to take that stance that the person isn't being truthful about the situation.

Like paypal shutting down charities and refunding the donations after they take their percentage.

If separate free and paid versions (of course with almost identical descriptions) are going to be grounds for banning, the app section of Google Play is about to become very empty. It seems to be a fact of life that you really need to have a free demo version to be able to sell a game (or even a more serious app). Of course developers could change to just a free app + in-app purchases, but in-app purchases seem to have a slightly sleazy reputation. It's easy to see why some would prefer the two app model.

Why are people so much more willing to give Google a pass for this kind of stuff than Apple? Whenever the Apple app rejection story du jour makes the rounds, I rarely see anyone taking the "two sides to every story" angle.

At least with Apple you can appeal to a human. With Google all you can do is appeal to the press and hope someone there cares.

While Google has terrible, terrible support outside of Enterprise Google Apps use, you bring up something foundational-

But remember the people generating publicity

We're hearing one side of the story, where the players know that the other side is limited in what they normally can or will say (e.g. talk bad about Apple or Google -- playing up being the victim -- and for legal and professionalism reasons they usually won't correct egregious lies).

I want Google to seriously put the hammer down on the Play store -- this is a good thing for everyone. The people who exploited it before, who are the enemy of people who want a healthy and vibrant system, will inevitably cry foul and protest their innocence.

That isn't to say that I know anything about whether these guys are in the right or wrong, but it is curious how one-sided they are about Google's communications. It's also worth noting that very frequent updates are also a mechanism to get your app in the "New" category again and again, and we have to assume that Google has the capacity to know that the update wasn't an actual update but instead was simply, for instance, a version number change.

This is precisely why Google will remain a search company. It's not that they can't create tech for enterprise, it's that no one with a brain cell trusts them with anything important.

I know we don't.

That's obviously false. Hundreds of millions of people trust Google with things of high importance. They're even approved to be trusted by the US Government (FISMA). Cities like Los Angeles have no problem trusting Google. Neither do businesses like Genentech or BBVA.

Who's the we? I'm sure tons of Y Combinator startups use Google Apps.

They come with million dollar accounts and get a rep. Joe average doesn't get that luxery.

They offer enterprise support: http://support.google.com/a/bin/request.py

Yeah, but not for Android or their Play store or their app ecosystem.

brador's comment stands. Would I trust my livelihood to a company with a proven track record of not caring about its own digital sharecroppers?

Google has a team of Developer Advocates to provide developers with support. Search for "google play developer advocate" and the top 4 results are Google+ profiles for people in those positions.

Oh so you have to join Google +? And then send a message to a few profiles; hoping you get a response?

That's now good customer service.

That's not what he said. What he said was that there exist customer advocates. You can see this for yourself by finding them on Google+ and looking at how they chose to advertise their job description.

They also have office hours that you can join via hangouts. I've only seen them on youtube after the fact, but they're generally pretty good, and they will sit there and answer questions to your face (though since it's a webcast, general questions about banning would probably work better than "why is my app being banned?"):


I had to can a project recently after spending over a month fruitlessly trying to get a response from Google's support resources.

On the up side, I made $70 and learned some interesting stuff.

But here's yet another way for Google to run false positives which send you into their black hole of non-support. So one of the things I'm still learning is "don't let Google be a mission-critical part of a project."

> "don't let Google be a mission-critical part of a project."

This can be expanded to "Don't let any single company be a mission critical part of a project".

Better yet, "Don't let anything over what you have no control whatsoever be a mission critical part of a project". If that single company can be heavily influenced by you, risks are acceptable.

It's back up as of right now. I just downloaded Templar Assault.

Also, just to be clear: once again, we're responding to a one-sided media story without reference to the app in question or the facts on the ground. And, once again, we're jumping in for or against the side we curently favor in the smart phone wars (I'll bet good money there's an iPhone in your pocket, so let me put down my Galaxy Nexus to respond).

It seems you are trying to steer this into a "if you criticize Google you're an Apple fanboy, if you criticize Apple you're a Google fanboy" argument which is not only dangerous in itself but utterly ridiculous.

I think the demands he made are pretty reasonable. Both Google and Apple need to improve relations and communications with developers in cases like this and trying to avoid the subject or turn it into a fanboy war wont help the case.

So please, put back your Nexus in your holster, cowboy.

It's more "If you make a knee jerk criticism of Google or Apple that we've all heard a thousand times already, based on a single poorly sourced blog post, and bring no new insight to the table" then you're a fanboy and should be posting somewhere else. I'm tired of this.

You are tired, fair enough, but then don't try to make it a fanboy case, just let it slide.

I have my own perception about these things and that is that if this was an Apple case instead of a Google one it would have been overanalyzed and exaggerated ("devgate" or whatever other stupid name attached to it) and that one-sided stories would be welcomed instead of questioned.

This is probably coming across as a pro Apple statement, no doubt (and I do'nt really care, i don't make a big deal about what technology i decide to put in my pocket), but I also think it'd be against users and developer interests to say that the problem is not there or that is only a matter of perception based on your ecosystem preferences.

If there something wrong, or that needs improvement, it should be said regardless on what phone you use or your personal preference.

Given that both Apple and Google are notorious for not talking to anybody, even the devs they're making money on, I'm not sure what you see as the alternative. If a journalist can only get one side of the story, I think they should print it.

As a dev I can and do communicate with Apple reps.

Also, just to be clear: once again, we're responding to a one-sided media story without reference to the app in question

And just to be clear, the only reason you're responding is because ten thousand other people consumed and shared the story. And the reason they did that is because the narrative that nobody is home at Google is powerful in the development community. It threatens to spread to the rest of the web as well if you guys don't get in gear and start fixing this corporate culture problem.

Since an android app has to demand all possible permissions pre-installation (feel free to correct me here if I'm mistaken), then how else can one provide versions of said app that don't ask for the permissions that make some uncomfortable?

The Android guys even have videos that touch on this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDDgoxvQsrQ

And that's just one non-spammy reason for multiple versions. More sweaty Steve Ballmer and less Bill Lundburgh please...

That's just repeating the speculation in the article. We have no idea if the multiple app versions are the source of the warning. We haven't seen the letter, nor even read selective quotes from it. That's what drives me nuts about this: this is pure sensationalism. There's no journalism here at all, and almost no real facts. Yet all the "con-Google" crowd jump in with the tired old customer support meme anyway.

Stop it, people. Find some real evidence and indict them with that.

How is it not journalism? The story is admittedly one-sided but only because Google won't communicate with anyone. The author and the article's subject both reached out to Google and got no reply at all.

That is the story. Google is threatening to remove non-shady apps for reasons that are entirely mysterious.

Where are the quotes from the notifications from Google? Where is the independent verification? Where is the attempt by the author to "reach out to Google" (I just re-read the article -- they didn't do what you assume they did)? Literally all this is is an author using a few quotes from one source to rehash a meme and get clicks. And everyone here has jumped on it and pushes it to the top of YC. And I'm sick of this kind of discourse.

Here is a quote cut & pasted from the article: "Google didn't respond to a request for comment from me."

So the article details the attempt and failure of the devs to contact Google, and the author's attempt and failure to contact Google. What do you want, a seance?

The Trese Brothers have attempted to contact Google many times via email and through Google's support boards since the first warning and have heard nothing back.

Google didn't respond to a request for comment from me [the author of the article].

I think you need to read more closely.

And BTW I'm generally favorable toward Google, and my pocket holds an Android.

>Where is the independent verification?

How would you suggest getting it?

By asking Google. By looking for criticism of the apps elsewhere. By downloading and running them to validate there is no spam. By asking for a copy of the communication from Google. Are you serious about this, or did you just not think of that stuff?

Oh fer cryin' out loud. I downloaded and played this game (or an earlier version of it) over a year ago. It's not anything special, but it sure isn't spam, and the developers clearly have an engaged and enthusiastic audience...

If google is going to use an automated tool to detect violations of their rules that generates false positives, then if they have any clue whatsoever they need to put a human in between it and the developers to prune those out. Otherwise, it's like going to see your doctor and only getting a web browser set to WebMD instead.

I'm not an Android developer, but it looks like there are several contact forms at the bottom of http://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/bin/a...

When a problem happens with Apple's App Store, is there a guaranteed way to contact and get an answer from a human?

It's a problem now, but imagine how much of a problem it will be when we all have google driverless cars...

Nothing has happened yet, except for a scare. It might still end well - although the scare and stress is of course a problem, too.

My app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.houseblend...) got kicked out of the app store a while back with the reason being:

"Violation of the intellectual property and impersonation or deceptive behavior"

Pretty vague so I didn't really know what the issue was. I thought my description fo the app was accurate and it was all my own work. I followed the appeal process listed in the email and waited. After a couple of weeks with no response, I emailed again. After another week, I followed up again. Finally after a total of three weeks off the market, it was re-instated. I still don't know what the problem was, but being off the market hurt. I went from nearly 4000 downloads a day when it was suspended to just a few hundred now.

I have similar anecdote, but with facebook: We had an web application get a huge bump in traffic as we approached the date of a massive live event that was being managed by the app. Suddenly, facebook shut off our access. Luckily, we had written the app in such a way that we could quickly disable the facebook features, and still have a functional app. If it had been critical to have facebook, the event would have been ruined, and our clients would have fired us. We contacted facebook, and our conversation went something like this:

FB auto message: our very amazing and awesome malware detector, which uses all this cool machine learning and is amazing, has detected that your site is malware and we are disabling it.

Us: Our site is not malware, it's just suddenly very popular. Please turn it back on.

1 week later

FB rep: You site appears to be on, please refer to the documentation for how to connect to our services, do not violate the terms of use agreement.

Us: Ok, it does appear to be back on now. Why was it shut off?

FB rep: You violated the terms of use agreement.

Us: How did we do that? Could you explain what term we violated, so we can modify our code appropriately?

FB rep: Do not violate the terms of use agreement.

Us: Ok, but which term? Are you sure your automated system didn't just shut the site down because it went viral?

FB rep: no response, ever again

We never changed the code, site continued to work fine. As a result, I live in fear that something like this could happen again, in a situation where facebook was a critical component. Did the ability to contact a human help in this situation? Unclear. They definitely did a good job of making us feel worthless and unimportant.

With more companies going more and more to a purely online presence, I've found customer service to be rapidly degrading. They provide no phone numbers to contact them and they take an age to reply by email with a standard copy and paste response to everything.

It's annoying as hell, and a lot of people's response if "well it's free, so don't expect customer support". Except it is the customers that make Facebook worth $100bn, for example.

More companies need to learn from Amazon, their customer support is first rate. I can see a lot of people turning their back on Facebook/Google due support issues.

The only guarantee you have against a situation like that is to not use the platform. I would never rely on FB, Twitter, or even a single cloud provider. It's necessary that one be able to pack up and go if there is a sudden policy change or price hike.

The grammar on that is also confusing. Is it IP && (impersonation || deceptive behavior) or is it (IP && impersonation) || deceptive behavior?

If it's the former (which is how I interpret it), then they should tell you what IP you've violated or who your accuser is. I understand they want to be vague to avoid giving information that may allow spammers to game the system, but I think they're going to be more persistent and sophisticated anyways. This leads to an ineffective deterrent technique and a poor experience for customers. You'd figure Google would have people smart enough to realize this.

Agreed. In my response, I tried to guess what the complaint could be and I addressed each possibility in turn. This made for a quite long response as I was addressing items that were likely not even a problem. In the end, the re-instatement notice was sent via email:

"Upon further review, we've accepted your appeal and have reinstated your application."

So, I still don't know what the problem was.

It's exactly stories like these that have me seriously considering going back to vanilla web dev again after a year as an indie in the App Store. I'm just not comfortable putting all my eggs in a basket that can be yanked away at any time for any reason in an environment where I'm guilty until proven innocent.

The relative safety and convenience of the app store is not justification enough to give up these fundamental freedoms to unaccountable corporate bureaucracies.

They took down an App I made for the Olympics also, 20,000 downloads in 2 days, AppBrain hot list, then poof its gone with the same generic "..intellectual property and impersonation.." warning, no specifics. They did reply to my emails but you might as well be talking to a robot, they wont tell you anything. My best guess is my use of the word Olympics in my app, but that's what people are searching for so removing that no one can find your app.

I still don't know what the problem was

I would guess that it's that your logo is an obvious derivative of Instagram's logo, as is your app name. There is a very real possibility that users in a rush could install your app when they intended to install Instagram proper.

If Google really starts cracking down, anyone with a trademark infringing logo is going to have a rough time -- you can't take someone else's logo and just modify it without their express consent. Maybe Instagram grants it, but this does seem to be actionable.

The logo/icon and the use of Instagram in the title were some of the issues I addressed in my response and I offered to make changes. It would be hard to release an Instagram plugin without using the Instagram name (think of all the Photoshop plugins). But in the end, I made no changes and they re-instated.

So anything that starts with Insta is now owned by Instagram?

I hope he figures this out. I received the same "spam" letter from Google regarding my apps saying I had 7 days to figure it out or possibly have my apps or account shut down.

It turned out I had used the word "dice" too many times in a description of my simple "dice" game because I described all the rules in the description. I had to mutilate my description and remove about 80% of the times I used the word "dice".

I emailed Google telling them what I had done, and that I fixed that problem, and that I really hoped that WAS the problem, and I begged them not to remove my apps because I was diligently trying to figure out what I had done wrong, and that I WOULD fix it - I'm a reputable developer, and I play by the rules.

I did receive 2 real-human emails back from Google in the process saying "thank you" and now months later my apps are all still online, so it appears I found the right problem.

I can certainly understand the frustration however. If there is literally nothing throwing up a red flag and you don't know what you have done wrong, and Google doesn't appear to give specifics, it can be scary.

The way I approached the problem was that Google probably didn't have a live human poking through my apps to find a violation, and it was most likely a "robot" that found the problem. This means it most likely had to come from a textual description or there was a potential IP situation. The email mentioned "spam", so I looked for the former first and found the over-use of the word "dice". Sure enough, that was it. Or at least I assume that was it, because my apps are still online now - months later.

This captures the problem: "I emailed Google telling them what I had done, and that I fixed that problem, and that I really hoped that WAS the problem, and I begged them not to remove my apps because I was diligently trying to figure out what I had done wrong, and that I WOULD fix it - I'm a reputable developer, and I play by the rules."

That says really really bad things about the eco-system when your target 'developers' are so confused and unclear about what they can and cannot do, and the enforcement of same is not testable a-priori, that they have to resort to begging for understanding.

how is overusing the word "dice" being spammy?

Personally, I would be suprised if it was. He probably tripped over some other heuristic (or was flagged as spam by a user for some reason), and they simply didn't reject him after a review. His email may have helped his case here.

Either that or their algorithm really doesn't like you using the same word over and over again (this seems unlikely).

Spam apps are a real problem, and I personally won't be bothered by this as long as the devs that complain (and presumably trigger a human review in the process) don't have their apps inappropriately removed. So far, I haven't really seen any evidence of a widespread problem with inappropriate removals, just inappropriate warnings.

Looking at the game link for Templar Assault, it's a pretty clear violation of Games Workshop's IP. The art looks exactly like Space Marine Terminators; the character names are evocative of the same as well, along with a passel of other very close imitation.

I don't have a horse in this race either way, but as a pretty flagrant violation of IP, perhaps this is why they've drawn fire from Google? Games Workshop is usually pretty assiduous in protecting their IP.


The gameplay screens look a lot like Space Hulk.

Though I'm not sure I agree with banning such clones, after all game mechanics can be neither copyrighted nor patented.

It's not the gameplay mechanics that raise a flag for me.

It's the art. Compare the screenshots of the various units to this:


Have you heard of Starcraft?

I'm not sure what you're getting at exactly but it is well known that Blizzard's titles were directly inspired by the Warhammer and Warhammer 40k universes[1].

While the visual similarities haven't causes Games Workshop to complain about infringement from Blizzard (as far as I know) it doesn't mean that Games Workshop isn't complaining about infringement in this or other cases.

[1] http://kotaku.com/5929157/the-making-of-warcraft-part-1

Aside from the(admittedly very close) similarities between the Zerg and Tyranids, there's not that much that Blizzard copied from GW's IP.

However, it's telling that GW's notoriously trigger happy lawyers have left Blizzard alone, so it's pretty much a non-comparison.

Clones are part and parcel of the gaming world, but folks still need to change their IP.

From the look of the UI, it even has a time countdown slider for each turn, something fairly unique to Space Hulk. I kinda miss that, it really made Space Hulk tense. Still, it's a 20-year-old game, probably time for a remake somewhere :)

The latest version is not 20 years old... it was on 3D0 in 1995 if I remember correctly. So 17 years old :)

If that's the case then Google should indicate that in their emails instead of sending generic warning emails. Even specifying that it's a copyright violation will help instead of beating around the bush and causing anxiety.

Either way, it seems that Google has dropped the ball in terms of good communication.

Have you considered that perhaps there are reasons for sending generic warning emails that you either haven't thought of or are undervaluing?

If developers don't know these reasons, it might as well be a black box oracle, huffing fumes, rolling dice, and sending out warnings based on the results.

Downvoted you by accident! Sorry!

No worries. I really wish HN would give you a grace period in which you can reverse that. :/

So... no?

And that is Google's achilles' heel; support and customer service. It's across their entire line of software and services. Try getting a-hold of someone if you a Google Apps member. You damn lucky if you get anything other then a automated response.

And isn't Google about to release a tablet soon? Good luck.

It's not a bug, it's a feature. As long as they make more by not being human than they lose by pissing people off, they're good.

It's on purpose.

Amazon makes money, has cheap prices, and runs many of the web's popular sites, yet still manages to have good customer service.

Ah, but now you're talking about the relationship between Amazon and their paying customers. You take care of your paying customers.

An occupant of a blog is, as the saying goes, a product, not a customer.

EDIT: I re-read the article. I thought they were losing their Blogger account. Never mind.

I have paid for Google Apps and have in the past called Google. It hasn't been an issue getting someone on the phone to walk me through something or at least help me try to figure out why something wasn't working.

Yes you won't get support for their free version, that isn't entirely unexpected.

Google released the Nexus 7 a month ago...

What strikes me as interesting regarding Google's automated approach to community regulation is the effect of focusing on action rather than intent. Making a perfect intent-detector is difficult: much easier to make an action-detector and penalize actions consistent with malicious behavior. This works as long as those actions are a) necessary for malicious behavior and b) are easy to avoid while making good apps.

The experiment is now: how much developers will adjust their behavior to signal clean behavior versus Google perfecting its algorithm to perfectly judge intent. Once Google has a reasonable policy in place, they can sit and wait for developers to conform, and presumably those that can't conform cannot do so precisely because the behavior they would have to change is the behavior that makes their software malicious or undesirable.

Humans already do this every day in conversation - I adjust my language and tone to signal non-malicious intent when making a statement I fear might be perceived as threatening or rude. But these are relatively easy fixes that do not affect my communication horribly; I suppose it's still an open question as to whether Google's criteria unreasonably hinder the development process.

What strikes me as interesting regarding Google's automated approach to community regulation is the effect of focusing on action rather than intent

What's interesting about that? We're all guilty of putting action over intent. Look at A-B testing, the metrics we use have nothing to do with our user's intents. Fuck their intents, I'm optimizing to get as many as possible to give me money.

Its the same exact thing, just wearing a different color jacket. This time you just happen to be the subject rather than the administrator.

It's the same with Google Search and SEO. SEOs simply observe what actions the algorithm rewards and optimize for that.

    Software isn't a fire and forget transaction anymore
There's a lot of insight in that soundbite. I wish more of the "enterprise!" crowd (and in this case, Daddy Google) realized that.

What's ironic (IMO) is that Google has pushed hard for this with Chrome's background updating, yet here is against it. I'm sure it's an inadvertent consequence, but it still seems strange.

Getting flagged because they update too much is a guess. Since they can't get a hold of Google, they can't verify that. I wouldn't make assumptions about what Google likes / doesn't like on updating until we know why they were flagged. Unfortunately, Google has once again made this difficult and reinforced the notion that they are bad at support, right when they want people to buy into Google Fiber. Sigh.

People will take as much control over their software as they can get. The Firefox vs Debian row also was based on who controls updates.

As long as they can get away with it, Google won't simply give you balanced powers on their platform. They will give you the bare minimum they can afford to. Same with Facebook, Twitter, ... and their APIs.

There are always real justifications for this, but the problem behind is balance of power. You are stuck with them so they make the rules.

We have tried very hard to abid by the rules and produce and support fun Android games. Dealing with tha automated Google juggernaut is difficult but I am the first to admit that they are the reason we are able to make, distribute and support our games.

Getting a access to human support is important in general, but absolutely necessary if you are going to mess with people via an automated system. I'm always frustrated when I read articles about a journalist who gets his gmail account hacked or otherwise messed with, and solves it via some back-channel/personal connection.

> The notion that update frequency is the trigger for ending up on Google's hit list is just speculation.

... and so they really don't know anything... o_0

That's par for the course when Google bans someone. They intentionally don't tell people what they did wrong because they feel it helps people learn to cheat the system.

Every time I've had an issue or problem, I've been Apple to correspond with an Apple App Store rep. One tune it was because I needed to expedite and update and another time it was because I was in a copyright dispute with another app. Both times, my emails were answered. My friends who've had App Store rejections have been able to get exact reasons and email actual people at Apple for details.

I have zero experience with the Play store, but I have expected developers to be able to get more information by email, at least. Also, I though the Google store was supposed to be 'open' and all that. I feel bad for those devs whose apps are going to be arbitrarily removed without explanation. Perhaps they'll want to join us on the Apple developer side of the fence for awhile! I'd love to see their games on iPhone!

And yet there seem to be countless stories on the web of devs struggling with the Apple App Store and not getting proper information. Your account is merely an anecdote.

As are all the other stories. I've yet to see an sort of comprehensive statistics on app store rejections. (Which would be kind of awesome.)

For the time being it's all anecdotes, and we choose to believe based on our personal histories (with apple, the media, the reliabilty of messageboards, etc)

Those statistics are probably regarded as proprietary information by Apple. Good luck convincing them it's in their best interest to release them.

Is this just not a risk inherent with developing for "app stores"?

To you, your application may be something you sunk months of your life and perhaps something you are relying on to pay your mortgage.

To the app store owner , your app is simply 1 of hundreds of thousands of apps. Google/Apple etc must receive hundreds of fraudulent or otherwise "dodgy" submissions every day, so it makes sense from their point of view to optimise the process of deleting these.

If they end up accidentally burning a few legit indie devs in process because of false positives then it is simply viewed as collateral damage.

I can only see this becoming more arbitrary over time as the app store owners begin to sink under the crushing weight of application submissions.

The good thing about android is there are lots of stores!

Doesn't the "play store" cover about 90% of it though?

To be honest , I'm not even sure how I'd set my phone up to use a different store nevermind the average android user.

Templar Assaults seems like a massive rip-off of Space Hulk. Even though there is no mention on it on their store page.

Sounds like typical Google to me. If you've ever had to wrangle with getting your Adsense account unsuspended you'll know it's near impossible, well in-fact impossible to get a sensible or reasonable person on the phone let alone by email.

This is why it's important to be able to switch vendors. If Google isn't responsive, these guys can switch to offering their product on the Amazon app store [1], for example.

Avoiding vendor lock-in is an extremely important part of the business side of technology.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/mobile-apps/b/ref=topnav_storetab_mas?...

Why http://www.amazon.com/mobile-apps/ 404's is incomprehensible.

So maybe google is being a little obtuse here, but I think their point is a good one: android developers, please stop updating your apps once a week. It is annoying to open up my app list and have 25 of the 30 apps I've got installed needing to be updated. Roll all your little bug fixes into larger updates and push those out infrequently. Unless you have a real show-stopping security or functionality bug, I don't need the update immediately.

Why open the app list at all? Let them auto-update.

I play Cyberknights RPG by the Trese brothers as I fall asleep each night. Just left a comment of support on the game's play store page (while it's still there). We need to escalate this is a way that Google will see it. HN is nice, I will link to this from G+ and see if I can find it to upvote on Reddit as well.

Here is the link: http://goo.gl/1MNYv

A developer could side-step the difficult to contact issue by being a shareholder and contacting Investor Relations. The SEC may get involved if companies ignore IR communications. The IR person would be able to give you a direct contact.

Also, pay attention at conferences when you meet Googlers and stay in contact. They may also be able to help you with direct support.

Honestly, this is why I would never, ever consider using something like Google App Engine for anything other than a toy. Google is not a support organization. Except for ads, you can't count on them for anything B2B.

"Google didn't respond to a request for comment from me."

And there is Google's major problem in a nutshell.

Can they take their game and host it somewhere else?

Of course, but then they don't get the exposure of the play store. And only people who explicitly allow "other markets" will be able to install from other sources. I for one have not yet dared to tick that checkbox on my phone.

Actually I think that option in Android should be more fine grained. There are certain markets I would allow, but I don't want to allow ALL markets. At the moment the choice is only "play only" or "all sources".

I wish it would be more like debian, for example, were I could add to a list of enabled sources.

It is not like checking that box allows other markets to just push stuff onto your device. It just gives you the ability to get things from other sources. You still have full control of not getting stuff from sources you are worried about.

See my other reply - I still think it significantly lowers the barrier to installing malware.

You still get prompted for every single thing installed...

I know, but I also know how well that worked on Windows (not at all). What if some apps figure out how to fake that prompt or somehow hide it. Or if I get to the prompt while I am tired or drunk and hit "OK" too fast because I was expecting something else. It is just one barrier less.

The top answer in this Stack Overflow discussion says that the core package installation APIs are locked down fairly tightly (such that third-party applications have to go through the prompting):


True. If you are prone to "drunk installing" then you are best to not enable that feature. They can't engineer around all stupidity.

They could add a breathalyzer check to the install verification prompt.

The only option that is even remotely realistic is Amazon's App Store, and that's only available in the USA.

That's just not true. There's GetJar, SlideMe and many others. Here's a good discussion:


I'll just highlight his (bolded) takeaway: "do not disregard alternative markets"


False positive with impending loss of market placement, reviews and app presence with their customers. No recourse for flagging Google's attention except for appealing to the court of public opinion?

Perhaps it is a "repeating scenario" because these app stores are rolling over in bed and squishing the poor bastards who get into bed with them and stake their business on cooperation?


So everyone should wait until after their livelihood is destroyed (obviously an exaggeration) before raising a fuss about what seems to be impending doom? I don't think so.

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