An Indian startup called OneTouch AppLabs recently rose to prominence for its “Remove China Apps” Android app that scanned devices for Chinese-made apps and let users manually uninstall them from the resulting list. The software amassed over five million local downloads on the Google Play Store within two weeks from launch and has now been pulled from the marketplace for violating Google’s deceptive behavior policy.
OneTouch AppLabs’ viral app had a hit-or-miss reputation with detecting Chinese apps on devices, but it soon received over 5 million downloads on the Play Store in India, making it among the top trending apps in the country.
The surge in popularity soon caught the attention of Google, which has now taken it down from the marketplace. The company confirmed to Gadgets 360 that it suspended the app for its violation of the Play Store’s Deceptive Behaviour Policy, which prohibits apps that encourage, mislead or incentivize users into removing or disabling third-party apps.
The app’s developer claimed it made the software “for educational purposes only to identify the country of origin of a certain application(s),” and that it does not “promote or force people to uninstall any of the application(s),” though Google’s standing on the matter is now clear.
The anti-Chinese sentiment has recently grown in India due to cross-border tensions in the Himalayas, leading some local celebrities to call for removing apps affiliated with China. The latter has also threatened to respond with “tit-for-tat punishment from Beijing” if India continues to strain bilateral relations with its “irrational anti-China sentiment.”
Although the effectiveness of such apps is difficult to ascertain, they can become a tool in delivering a bigger message. And while this app may have led to many deletions in India, nearly all of them would have taken place on Chinese-made phones. The latter holds a dominant position in India’s smartphone market and currently has 4 vendors among the top 5 (Xiaomi at No.1) in terms of market share, according to analytics firm Counterpoint.