Google Play Policy Updates and Unpublishing Statistexts

The Problem

About a month and a half ago (October 08, 2018), Google updated their Developer Program Policies and mentioned the updates in the a blog post. The overall gist is that Google wants to ensure users have a safe and secure experience and stop developers from potentially abusing the SMS and Call Log permissions groups. Personally, I am on the fence about these actions. I think that the user should be able to decide which permissions to allow or disallow rather than having the Play Store manage this but at the same time, many users just click accept when they are prompted to allow a permission even if no use case has been explained.

Statistexts

For those that are unfamiliar, Statistexts is an application that I created in order to analyze text messages and provide information such as how quickly your contacts text you back. More information about its feature can be found at its website which I probably won’t take down (at least for a long while). It’s been my pet project for quite a long time and was actually my first Android development project. My first release for version 1.0 was on May 14, 2015 but the first commit on the project was in December 2014. I had actually had the idea a few months prior but didn’t know the first thing about mobile development at the time.

Statistexts main screen

Application Results

A few days after I put in my application for an exception, I saw the Tasker dev post this update saying that they were in touch with Google’s policy team and people were actually looking at the Permission Declarations applications and weren’t just auto-rejecting them, which was pretty reassuring. Shortly thereafter, new listings were added to the exceptions list on the help page including Task Automation, meaning that Tasker should be in the clear and everything will work out for them. Unfortunately, a few new items were added in the “Invalid uses” list as well (or perhaps I had missed them the first time?) included Contact prioritization and social graphs. I’m not 100% sure, but I think Statistexts falls into the social graph category so I thought that I might be out of luck.

Consequences

Luckily, I actually have a day job in which I do Android Development. If my own personal apps were my only source of income, this would be a huge blow to me. Fortunately, monetizing Statistexts never really worked out so I turned off ads completely after I’d only received a little over $7 in ad revenue in a year or so. My app has a small enough user base that I never even had the option to quit my day job and focus on it solely. Which is somehow a good thing now, oddly enough.