Google quietly removed from its Play Store last week at least 46 apps from iHandy, a Chinese mobile developer, says a Thursday report by Buzzfeed News. Google removed selfie, security, antivirus, keyboard, horoscope, emoji and health apps that'd been downloaded millions of times, Buzzfeed reported. Eight of iHandy's apps still remain in the Google Play store, Buzzfeed said.
It's unclear why the yanked apps were taken down. IHandy didn't immediately respond to request for comment. An iHandy executive told Buzzfeed that Google's move was unexpected and that iHandy is trying to discover the reason for the removals.
Google has reportedly pulled other apps from Chinese developers before. This latest removal could prompt additional.
"Our Google Play developer policies are designed to help create the best experience for users, and we explicitly prohibit deceptive or disruptive ads. When violations are found, we take action," a Google spokesperson said in an email Friday.
Google Play's Developer Policy Center says that ads must only be displayed within the app serving them. Deceptive ads are considered to be those that mimic an app's user interface or mimic a system notification. Google Play's policy defines disruptive ads to be those that take up the entire screen, interfere with normal use of an app, or don't provide a clear way to dismiss the ad without a penalty.
Established in 2008, iHandy is one of the world's largest mobile application developers. It set up a team in Silicon Valley in 2016.
Originally published Sept. 26.
Update, Sept. 27: Adds statement from Google and more information.