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Google Pulls down Android Apps overcharging users for basic features


Google Playstore – Android’s official application store has been up for bashing, especially on the security-related side of it. Well, much has been said, little has been done, but as far as we are concerned, Google Play has received its fair share of criticism.

But wait, have you navigated to the paid app section? You will be shocked by what is sold over there. You will find basic apps listed under the paywall section like calculators. Paying for a basic app is apparently a non-issue for some people – its only pennies after all, in most cases.

However, most paid apps offer a trial period that some developers have taken advantage of to overcharge unsuspecting users. Typically, Google Play policies state that users should first cancel the trial period before uninstalling an app before the trial period ends. As it turns out, some people just uninstall the app without canceling the trial period.

Some developers cancel the subscription soon as you uninstall the app but others don’t take it easy on you. Security researchers from Sophos Labs have revealed that some developers capitalize on this opportunity to overcharge users who fail to cancel the trial period.

Sophos says the affected apps required users to sign up with payment information before you they can run them.

A total of 24 apps were unmasked with this scrupulous behavior.

These apps range from QR or barcode readers, calculators, tools to make animated GIFs, and photo editors. Sophos says some developers charged as high as between $100 and $240 for these basic apps.

Overcharging apps
Overcharging apps/ Image Sophos

So far, Google has pulled down most of the apps submitted by Sophos in two batches – first 15 then nine apps, totaling to 24.

exmple apps

What’s the remedy?

Google advises users to first cancel the trial period before uninstalling the apps. But I get it, most of us barely – if never, read the code of conduct governing online services. We recommend you to check out ToS; DR (Terms of Service; Didn’t Read), a service that reads the terms of service on your behalf.

If you have already uninstalled the app, then reinstall the app and cancel any residual subscription.

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Alvin Wanjala

Alvin is a freelance tech journalist. Talk to me via email at alvinwanjala[at]pm[dot]me

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