back to article Android dev complains of 'Orwellian' treatment as account banned after 6 years on Play store

A small UK software biz has complained of "eerily Orwellian" treatment from Google after its wares were suddenly suspended and then banned from the Play store, with no meaningful discussion possible. Pocketwood Ltd had three apps on the store, under the MyAV brand, all of which are controllers for home AV setups. One of the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks like a kafkian trial

    Google might have valid reasons to ban the account but they will never let anyone know. What we DO know is that google sometimes enjoys indulging in kafkian behavior, that much is true.

    1. Steve Button

      Re: Looks like a kafkian trial

      I think the word is Kafkaesque, not kafkian. I know this because I use it all the time to describe the large institutions where I occasionally work. And I've read "The Trial", which literally gave me nightmares (so, again like working for a large corporation)

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        -esque pour quoi?

        It is. But why?

        1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: -esque pour quoi?

          To start, the author to whom you are referring is Franz Kafka, so if you were going to append an "-ian" (e.g. as one would with "Bushian gaffe" or "Trumpian idiocy"), the word would be "Kafkaian," which is obviously a little awkward to pronounce. Generally, I would differentiate between the two suffixes in this way: "-ian" is used to reflect something that the original speaker or creator might actually have done, whereas "-esque" reflects being in a similar style (for example "arabesque" decoration or referring to Reagan's style of speaking as "Kennedy-esque"). I would also say this is not a hard and fast rule, as with so much in English, because we say "Orwellian" and "Kafkaesque" to refer to essentially similar concepts. Arguably, "Orwellesque" would be more correct, but "Orwellian" is the common usage. In short, "Kafkaesque" is "more correct" because it's the more common usage.

          Hope that clears things up!

          1. sbt Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Frank-ly, my dear...

            Thanks; great explanation; don't know why the thumbs down. Not the original commenter, but I guess it's the European influence given Kafka's origins, since it just means "-ish" but in French. So, Kennedyish. We could also go with Orwellish, but it doesn't sound as learned.

            1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Frank-ly, my dear...

              The downvotes were almost certainly from butthurt conservatives who disliked my examples. Cry more, snowflakes!

              1. sbt Silver badge
                Childcatcher

                Bushian, like Bush, seemed mild by comparison

                Ah, yes, I'd barely registered them considering the more robust terms usually used. I also misunderestimated the extent to which the quality of the candidates for high office would degrade over time.

          2. el kabong Silver badge

            Good explanation, too bad it's all wrong

            There is only one explanation that works, a one word explanation, it's "Because"

            There is no rational explanation for the poor choice that is commonly taken, all we have are conjectures and all of them are wrong.

          3. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

            Re: -esque pour quoi?

            "Kafkaian," which is obviously a little awkward to pronounce

            Well, the French don't have too much trouble pronouncing "kafkaien", every time they have to describe their interactions with the administration!

          4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Kafkan?

            As in "Cool in a".

          5. Claverhouse Silver badge

            Re: -esque pour quoi?

            or referring to Reagan's style of speaking as "Kennedy-esque

            If Kennedy was in the practice of sounding out sickly homespun bollocks as a way of flat-out misdirection...

            A method used also by W. and old 'Hope & Change'...

      2. el kabong Silver badge
        Devil

        Kafkaesque does not rhyme with Orwellian but Kafkian almost does

        Besides, Kafkian is the adjective you should use to qualify something as related to Kafka while Kafkaesque is a more abstract term better suited to qualify style not substance. Your comment amounts to a platitude.

        Sorry for spoiling it for you!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Kafkaesque does not rhyme with Orwellian but Kafkian almost does

          I could be a Pythonian, I follower of the Pythons.

          I could indulge in Python style behaviour, and be Pythonesque.

          Something mildly Python, could be Pythonish

          Or it may just be a Pythonism ...nudge, nudge, wink, wink

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Looks like a kafkian trial

      Google likes shouting, but it hates listening.

      We were DOSed by a Google IP address, their telephone system just runs you in circles, their abuse@ and postmaster@ email addresses get an automated response saying that the emails are just deleted and not read.

      They are like the King and his new clothes. Everybody stares and points, but they don't notice.

  2. Blockchain commentard Silver badge
    Flame

    Same dictators run the Apple store. Make me money but on a whim I'll destroy you.

    Surprised no governments have raised these obviously abusive monopolies to the relevant competition authorities.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe because people are free to create their own app stores for Android. The logistics of which are nigh on impossible but someone could.

      1. monty75

        Amazon have. And it's got next to nothing available due to the chicken and egg phenomenon of it not being worth the dev's time unless more people use it, which they won't because the devs don't bother uploading anything they want.

      2. jmch Silver badge

        "people are free to create their own app stores for Android"

        They already exist. The Play one is the only one embedded in Android, and if you try installing from anywhere else, Android pops up a warning message that it might be dangerous. External app stores in practice are limited to niche areas for a select and tiny subset of Android users

        1. John 104

          Beat me to it. How this doesn't get picked up is beyond me. It is monopolistic and actually harmful to the consumer, unlinke the IE/Netscape joke.

        2. Alumoi

          And pray tell what's stopping the user to dismiss the warning and install the app?

          Just sell your app on your own website, clearly describing the process to install it and include the update mechanism in your app.

          Why on earth you need an 'app store' to install a freaking app on your phone?

          1. pandrens

            Because your "average" user will never look anywhere but in the store.

            If you are reading the Register you are not an average mobile phone user. Neither am I but knowledgable users are a small minority.

            1. TonyJ Silver badge

              "...

              Because your "average" user will never look anywhere but in the store.

              If you are reading the Register you are not an average mobile phone user. Neither am I but knowledgable users are a small minority...."

              This!

              It's also why the constant stream of "I switched to Linux xx years ago and haven't looked back" comments become tedious. Yes, Linux is awesome. Yes, it's desktop variants are almost as simple and straighforward to use as any version of Windows - in some cases, arguably easier.

              But the point all too often missed here is that none of us are atypical users of either phones or computers.

              The same people that buy an average PC from PC World, Dell's webiste etc, don't give a jot about the OS other than, perhaps, wanting something similar or the same as they have at work.

              Remember, we are still talking about people who are lost if you move an icon on their desktop! You are talking about a large percentage of a workforce now, who have only used Office with a ribbon - it's been around 12 years!

              Also - remember how we are always saying we shouldn't teach non-technical users bad habits? Telling them to install random/semi-random apps from a website is a slippery slope and it's only a matter of time before they're being yelled at "why did you enable untrusted sources, you fool!?"

          2. xanda
            Facepalm

            ...Just sell your app on your own website...

            Many do already if you hadn't noticed - or they at least refer back to Google Play thereby giving the indication to the user that they are looking at something kosher.

            ..."Why on earth you need an 'app store' to install a freaking app on your phone?"...

            Because after decades of experiencing dodgy downloads in the personal computing domain (of whichever persuasion) the largely uninitiated mobile device buying public finds it helpful to have a single point of reference for apps even if only for safety.

            There are many who are not particularly tech savvy, but who have at the same time learned that the source of their apps is important; having a default store goes a long way to helping these people.

            True there is more muck than brass in the Google Play store (& maybe the others too?) and users still need to be selective (as other comments here attest to), but having it is still better than not having it.

            Besides, at least on Android, the user still has the option to go elsewhere if they want to.

          3. Just Enough

            Users are wary

            "And pray tell what's stopping the user to dismiss the warning and install the app?"

            Because the average user has been hammered with the message not to just ignore warnings like this. So they are justifiably paranoid about installing from other sources. I'm not an average user, but I certainly would think twice about doing so. You need to trust the source, while the phone is screaming "don't trust this source!"

            And you have to get the user to the website in the first place. That may be a minor hurdle in your eyes, but that alone would be enough to stop 80% of users.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          That's why I said it was nigh on impossible. How exactly would you get your app store installed on all phones? It's not going to happen but because the mechanism exists in theory it's not a monopoly as much as in reality it really is a monopoly.

    2. ROC

      How about small claims courts for what would seem to be breach of contract? Being owed thousands of pounds for the past month should qualify, no?

  3. Not also known as SC

    If the situation is as described in the article and the developer's observations are accurate this does seem a little bit excessive. It seems perfectly reasonable to have a Sony based app, Samsung based app, etc if these companies use different approaches to how their remote work. Google really need to provide a mechanism to appeal their decisions.

    *Disclaimer I have wasted hours trying to get third party URCs to work so anything that makes this easier for people is good with me.

    1. chuBb.

      Personally i cant think a valid reason for offering 3 flavors of the same app, just have a first launch screen which displays the supported logo's of av manufacturer for the user to choose from, then run the company specific discoverary, seo your one app listing properly, rather than use spammy malware ad fraud tactics

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Flame

        Any setup friction can be a killer

        That'd work for me, but consider the intelligence of the median person and realise that half the population are dumber than that.

        I've said this before, but app stores should not be a monopoly. Particularly one that is too big to moderate effectively and provides proper avenues of appeal for arbritary and capricious decisions like this.

        Don't be evil? Don't make me laugh.

        1. chuBb.

          Re: Any setup friction can be a killer

          Lol i deleted the sentance where i mentioned average user stupidity , but even then at a previous employer all metrics we cared about in the app store improved when we consolidated flavored varients of the app to a single one. The only thing that took a short term hit (until the seo and brand awarness improved) was dumbasses purchasing the wrong version, then wanting a refund so one metric took a hit on income but as that income was refunded anyway all it did was show the old head of sales and marketings figures to be suspect anyway

          The big improvement we gained though was the copycat and malware spoofs of our app suddenly stood out like sore thumbs so overall helped us even if it meant a few people gave up when having to identify what flavor they needed

          1. sbt Silver badge
            WTF?

            The repetitive content issue.

            Yes, I'm not sure why Google would have such a bee in its bonnet about this. The dilution just results in cannibalising your own revenue I'd have thought. There are worse sins like data collection and excessive demands for app privileges.

            No, you spanner, your tip calculator does not need access to my address book. GTFO.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The repetitive content issue.

              "No, you spanner, your tip calculator does not need access to my address book."

              Any app to perpetuate the evil of tipping should be removed.

          2. dmacleo

            Re: Any setup friction can be a killer

            Lol i deleted the sentance where i mentioned average user stupidity

            I'm sure you meant to type "I" twice and the word "sentence" when talking about user stupidity....

            1. chuBb.

              Re: Any setup friction can be a killer

              Nope, i dont captilise "i" when typed becasue its obvious its not a lower case l, and it keeps the proof reader ocupied at work

              As for sentence yeah my spelling sucks being dyslexic and what not but i dont care as long the intent was conveyed, bit of a stretch to though to link misspelling to stupidity though...

              1. dmacleo

                Re: Any setup friction can be a killer

                in all honesty I was just trying to be funny, didn't notice I had not put a :) there to signify that.

      2. Overflowing Stack

        The whole idea of the app is to be automatic in its discovery of network devices. No setup needed, for Joe Public, not tech freaks like us.

        For most things it's upnp or mdns(bonjour) but some, well lots, have custom discovery mechanisms or both.

        The app works with 1000s of different makes and models of devices. Xbox One, Sky Q, DirecTV, Samsung, Sony, Hisense, Panasonic, Hue etc...

        If you fire off all the custom discovery routines at once on top of mdns and upnp it overwhelms the Android device and network devices.

        If you have separate apps that only fire search routines if they are an "Onkyo receiver app" you can be more selective and have a better chance of finding what the end user is hoping to control. Which if they've searched Google Play for an Onkyo remote app and the app controls Onkyo equipment I fail to see how that is "Spam". The bonus is, it can also control the other stuff that is connected to the Onkyo receiver like a Samsung TV and an Xbox.

        Regardless, Google only brought the policy out in 2018 so should at least warn first. The apps have been on Google Play since 2013/2014.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          "No setup needed, for Joe Public, not tech freaks like us."

          Having a separate app for each make doesn't really make setup easier for Joe Public. It just moves the "what make are you using" question from the app to the appstore. Joe Public must still identify what they want to control.

          1. sbt Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            "It just moves the ... question from the app to the app store"

            Great point. And now that I think about it, if you've got devices from more than one brand, you have to buy separate apps. Maybe that was what Google objected to.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: "It just moves the ... question from the app to the app store"

              Yes, I'm 99% sure that's what Google was objecting to. It looks to me like a bit of an unsavory move... splitting what should be one app into multiple ones with no good technical or usability reasons for doing so.

              On the other hand, the end result in terms of revenue isn't much different than offering one app with additional in-app purchases to buy support for whatever models you want support for, so Google's objection (if that's what it is) is on weak ground.

              The real problem here, though, is that Google isn't saying why they took this action. This is a pattern with Google (and others) that is egregiously bad. But then, we're talking about Google, so what more could we expect?

          2. Overflowing Stack

            But that's what they are looking for.

            If it didn't do what they searched for that would be spam, but it does do what they want. By being able to know a little bit in advance you can drastically improve the chance of success on finding what they want.

            Also, sometimes there isn't an official app that does what the user wants.

            Take Sky Q. The Sky Q app doesn't control the box. This app does. Nobody would find an app that didn't have "Sky Q remote" in the title searching for "Sky Q remote".

            I think their policy is intended to stop someone renaming say a "calculator" app repeatedly as "Super top calculator app", "Best calculator app", "Cal-cul-ator" etc...

            It's the same app, doing the same thing, with people searching for the same thing, therefore spam.

            But that isn't the case with these apps

            Regardless if you think it is, Google's reaction is over the top, unfair and harsh. It doesn't seem to matter how much they get investigated and fined, they carry on with what seems like absolute power.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              "Google's reaction is over the top, unfair and harsh"

              I agree. Nothing I said implied otherwise.

              However, developers that use the app store know (or should know) by now that doing so is risky and the rug can be pulled out from under them at any time. While I'm sympathetic to these developers, and I think that Google isn't doing right by them, I also think that there's a certain measure of "they should have seen that this was a possibility and planned for it".

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                "they should have seen that this was a possibility and planned for it"

                Sorry, insufficient information was supplied. You're going to have to specify how, exactly, someone could plan for that eventuality. The only method I can think of is "follow Google's conditions". Most of the people who get articles written about them seem to have done that, or at least attempted to. What else could you do? Try to take out an insurance policy on your developer account? I suppose you could have a separate account for each app that gets produced, but that is actually against Google's conditions and wouldn't help all that much when they start delisting apps.

              2. sbt Silver badge
                Alert

                Contractural desuetude

                @JohnFen, I get where you're coming from and I certainly saw the risk and decided against building my business around any app store dependency.

                But, just as there is a difference between deporting undocumented aliens after a decade or more of residency versus turning a migrant away at the border, I don't blame long standing and established developers feeling hard done by when the conditions are punitively applied suddenly after many years of development effort, marketing investment and customer reliance has been established, just as they'd zap the apps and accounts of the fly-by-nighters with brand new accounts and rip-off apps.

                It should be trivial for Google to understand the distinction and act accordingly. WTF do they collect all this data for, if not to personalise their interactions?

            2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Google's reaction is over the top

              That's because it's driven by badly-written "AI" and minimum-wage drones who don't have any choice or leeway. It's not like Google will put anyone competent on something that they are not going to make money from..

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          upnp or mdns(bonjour)

          Ah, the spawn of the Evil One and its Best Buddy. A pox on both their houses I say!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Accusations

        Who says he's using "spammy malware ad fraud tactics"?

      4. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        ...cant think a valid reason for offering 3 flavors

        All depends how they're written. If all three are written as polymorphic layout and command handling variations around a unified framework, a single app could make sense.

        If however they started as one app for one brand, later deciding to support other brands, it's entirely plausible it was easier to write a new app each time than refactor into an extensible framework.

        Without knowing the app architecture and decisions behind it, it's impossible to make an informed comment. With 3 staff we're clearly talking a very small business, possibly part time, who may not feel the need or have the time for architecturally elegant solutions.

        1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

          Re: ...cant think a valid reason for offering 3 flavors

          > With 3 staff we're clearly talking a very small busines

          A very large fraction of app development is done by single individuals. I would guess a 3-person business is well above average.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Google is always right; so they don't have to listen.

      It is incredibly hard to get in contact with Google if they affect you. When we got DOSed, it was quicker and easier to change our external IP address than to get Google to sort out their server!

  4. Graeme Carstairs

    Hmm could always submit it to Huawei they have a preinstalled perfectly serviceable app store on all their devices.

    1. Test Man

      Forget Huawei, Samsung (who are the majority Android flavour of phones) have an app store.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Substituting one self-interested or device-limited corporate app store for another isn't a real solution. We need an independent, non-profit, universal app store run without political bias for the public good. Possibly Mozilla?

        1. Ilgaz

          It exists

          https://f-droid.org/

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: It exists

            And that's a very good store. But a lot of devs don't want to release their app as open source and do want to sell it. FDroid has support for neither of these desires. I nearly always check FDroid for an app before I'll go somewhere else, but it's almost by definition going to lack the apps of any corporate entity.

        2. Overflowing Stack

          Making a profit is fine, treating people like dirt isn't. With power comes responsibility.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "We are a small British company up against a monolithic, faceless Goliath."

    Yes, and you always were and you knew it when you signed up.

    It's only that now, you are feeling just how small you are and how Goliath Google is, and that feeling is not comfortable at all.

    A wise man once said : do not put all your eggs in the same basket. You should have diversified, that would have lessened the blow.

    In any case, you have little choice now but to educate your users in how to accept the security warning.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "We are a small British company up against a monolithic, faceless Goliath."

      "Diversified"? To what, BlackBerries and WinPhones? There's a de facto duopoly*, so that wouldn't exactly have saved them.

      * Right, except in China, but it's likely not much relevant here

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: "We are a small British company up against a monolithic, faceless Goliath."

      Recognising the Goliath scale of Google, and having the prescient ability to realise it may fuck you over on a whim with no chance to appeal, are not the same thing.

      A rational person would expect the right of appeal at least. Instead, Google does a foot-meet-shotgun by cutting off a (however small) revenue stream and further alienating a profit-generating community.

  6. EnviableOne Silver badge

    Google need to have an appeals process that actually takes the substance of the appeal on board.

    Also they have had a profitable relationship for 5 years, can they not work with the developer to come to a mutual solution

    I am sure that will make the most money for both ....

    but if alll that changes between the three apps is the discovery module, then how hard is it to have one App and bundle all three, so those with mixed deployments can manage the lot from One App?

    1. el kabong Silver badge

      Devs need to have an appeals process, google do not need any of that

      Google's rules are simple: it's google's way or the highway, fuck you very much!

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Google need to have an appeals process that actually takes the substance of the appeal on board

      But that would cost Google money and has the capability for possibly causing them some embarrasment. Computer says NO,

  7. alain williams Silver badge

    Google makes big money through large scale automation

    If they had the review properly done by a human being this would cost google a lot - the benefit to google would be minimal, other app vendors will fill the gap, they have no real interest if any particular app vendor does well or fails. Google does things if many complain: they are getting complaints about spammy & malicious apps and so have put in some automatic tests. Google does not care if automatic decisions are fair or not - just as long as they are cheap and keep the majority from complaining.

    It is a very sloped playing field, governments are not really interested as all that they see is that policing this would cost them money.

    The mega corporations are too big in very many ways.

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Google makes big money through large scale automation

      If they had the review properly done by a human being this would cost google a lot...

      That's fine ... Google has a lot. I've no problem with the idea that they should do things a little differently and that this should cost them some of their massive profit.

      It's the old great power vs great responsibility trade-off. If you try to wriggle out of the responsibility you deserve to be stripped of the power.

  8. HorseflySteve

    Wind 'em up

    If he can prove that Google owes him 'several thousand pounds' and can't get them to talk to him and pay him, he could apply to wind up Google UK. I seem to remember a small supplier doing that to Asda some years back & they paid his bill in record time! See https://www.gov.uk/wind-up-a-company-that-owes-you-money Though it might be a bit difficult to prove that they can't pay, it'll certainly get their attention if he applies!

    1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

      Re: Too late

      he could apply to wind up Google UK

      I remember a story* in which a plumber did some work for a large, national company worth millions. It was a bill of a few hundred pounds, but the company ignored all his attempts to collect. Eventually, he filed to wind the company up on the grounds that they wouldn't pay him. They ignored that, too, and winding up proceedings began.

      While they were able to stop the company being wound up, their credit rating was destroyed and all creditors called in what they were owed. The company collapsed, all because they were dicks to a small supplier over a few hundred quid.

      * I don't know if this actually happened, it may be an urban legend. Anyone who knows if it is, or any more details than the vague outline I remember, is welcome to fill in the blanks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wind 'em up

      > it might be a bit difficult to prove that they can't pay

      Aren't Google one of those lot who don't list enough profit in their UK books to warrant paying any tax? It could be argued that such a situation indicates they're not on the stablest financial footing.

    3. gryphon
      Happy

      Re: Wind 'em up

      I remember a similar one with a bank where the guy actually got the bailiffs to turn up and start logging the equipment at a branch with a view to seizing it all.

      I believe bank HQ then coughed up rather promptly. :

    4. IGotOut

      Re: Wind 'em up

      This one did happen some time ago. (Apologies for the source)

      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-430129/Customer-sends-bailiffs-seize-banks-computers.html

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: Wind 'em up

        "You want to read that story, don't you?"

        "Umatrix says 'no'"

        "You could allow the more innocuous-looking cdns."

        <clickety>

        "Umatrix says 'no'"

        "You could allow the more innocuous-looking frames."

        <clickety>

        "Umatrix says 'no'"

        "Maybe the XHRs?"

        <clickety>

        "Umatrix says 'no'"

        "You could allow those red-framed domains whose names suggest that they are actually associated the Mail."

        "I could, but... <sigh>"

      2. Da Weezil

        Re: Wind 'em up

        I remember a few years back seeing a TV "Reality" thing where the High Court Enforcement guys turned up at the HQ of Toyota Racing with a writ for an unpaid debt from one of the teams suppliers.

        Enforcement Officer 1 to his colleague: (While eyeing an F1 car on display in the reception area)

        "Do you think we could tow one of these behind the Transit?"

        They soon had a payment cleared in settlement.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wind 'em up

          "I remember a few years back seeing a TV "Reality" thing where the High Court Enforcement guys turned up at the HQ of Toyota Racing with a writ for an unpaid debt from one of the teams suppliers."

          It was Renault, not Toyota

          1. Jay 2

            Re: Wind 'em up

            Makes sense, as Renault (as was, aka Team Enstone) have had the odd liquidity problem in recent years, Plus Toyota's F1 setup was in Germany.

      3. ma1010 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Wind 'em up

        Not winding up a business, but I know of a case here where a fellow got over a million dollars back in the 1970's because a property management company did not return his cleaning deposit. He was a law student who sued them in small claims court and won. He then went through all the steps to collect, including a public auction of the apartment building at which he was the only person who bid, giving the minimum bid which was the value of his judgment plus costs. The management company was properly served papers all along the line, but just ignored them.

        A couple of years later, the building's owner went to sell the building and found he had a major problem with the title deed! The property management company ended up paying over a million to the fellow to release his claim on the building. The alternative was to compensate the building's owner for the full value of the apartment complex, which was then valued at over 2.5 million.

        Even the rich and arrogant occasionally get brought to heel by the law if people know how to use it.

    5. khjohansen

      Re: Wind 'em up

      I *do* know that a friend of mine who'd worked as a temp at largish IT company in my country

      was owed about 100 quid in holiday comp. and they told him to "stuff it" - so he talked to his union

      who drew up a fine letter - "pay up or we start proceedings" :D

  9. jmch Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Absolutely not...

    "...and you can understand its reluctance to enter into detailed discussions with every discontented developer."

    No! I absolutely cannot understand. Google is a giant company that has become so by being able to work at very large scales. It's absolute and utter bullcrap to proudly showcase their technological capability to handle billions of users, exabytes of data, millions of apps and thousands of developers, and then say "oh, there's too many developers for us to be able to have a meaningful conversation with them".

    The same applies to facebook, Youtube etc for moderating contentious messages, copyrighted content etc etc. Automating much of the process to achieve scale is fine, leaving thousands of users and content creators (who are an income source for you, it must be said) in the lurch because you're too cheap to hire a few meatbags to handle the complex issues that your AI is too dumb to handle is absolutely not fine.

    1. sbt Silver badge
      Megaphone

      I understand. I do not accept.

      Google, Facebook and pals are trying to hoodwink the public and regulators into accepting that they can build giant organisations with elephantine revenues, without having to build appropriately scaled and resourced customer service departments. To them, it's a cost that would eliminate their competitive advantage over "legacy" businesses when it comes to the ludricrious profits required to keep the stock markets happy.

      Thumbs up, tho'.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Absolutely not...

      "No! I absolutely cannot understand."

      It's very easy to understand. Google's interest is purely in maximizing profit. One way to maximize profit is to minimize costs. Avoiding actually talking to people allows you to avoid a lot of expense.

    3. myhandler

      Re: Absolutely not...

      Correct - and just today I spoke to a real human at Microsoft to cancel and get a refund for my son's XBox account, which he's had enough of.

      The real human was careful, listened well, gave me the refund, asked if there was anything else he could help with. The hold queue to get through to this human was all of 40 seconds.

      That call cost Microsoft at least 5 minutes of time for a £50 refund to a consumer.. and Google can't be arsed to have a real contact line with real humans ??

      Arrogant bastards with the ethics of rattlesnakes.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    telephone their UK offices

    I thought google did no work in the UK?

    Has he tried phoning their massive Eire office? Presumably since it does all Google work everywhere it must have quite a lot of staff available

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No work in the UK?

      Been to Kings Cross recently and seen that mega building with Google plastered all over it?

      Do no work in the UK? my ass.

      Pay little or no tax in the UK? You betcha.

      Repeat after me....

      GOOGLE IS EVIL.

      Until you get the message.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    developer accounts are on occasion mysteriously reinstated

    perhaps a brave researcher will venture out there to discover the true habitat, feeding and reproduction cycle as well as other curia about googleus horribilis, aka alphabetus vulgaris? Can't wait for David Attenborough take on this!

  12. JohnFen Silver badge

    A good business lesson

    Any business that depends on a single vendor for survival is a business that is in extreme risk.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: A good business lesson

      Which is why I've never worked for a company that developed for one of these stores.

  13. Barry Rueger

    Hardly news

    If you're a writer you often want to record interviews, including those done by phone.

    New phone last year, which upgraded to Oreo, and all apps that recorded phone calls stopped working. Google in its wisdom had disabled that function in Android and if you or your company needed it you were SOL.

    This is why I have moved everything possible away from Google. Even when (infrequently) they do something well it's likely that next week they'll just shut you down with no warning and no avenue for appeal.

    1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

      Re: Too late

      all apps that recorded phone calls stopped working

      This irritated me no end, too!

      As a contractor, when I'm looking for a new contract I get many calls from many potential clients and agencies. I am often out and about and, even if I have a pen and paper to hand, it can be difficult to write down details.

      I therefore installed a call recording app on my phone. It was brilliant, I could review all the conversations when I was able and keep proper records of each potential engagement.

      Then along came an update and BAM: No more call recording! I suddenly lost a very valuable function.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Too late

        This sort of thing (losing important functionality) is one of the main reasons why I do allow anything to update automatically, and I don't update anything until I am confident that the update doesn't break anything I care about.

  14. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    https://f-droid.org/

  15. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Do not touch the royals

    He is now considering a trip to London to hammer on the door of Google's office.

    All that will accomplish is getting him arrested on attempted terrorism charges or somesuch.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Do not touch the royals

      He won't get arrested if he has a 'winding up order' in his hands. As that is issued by the High Court the average plod won't want to risk being in contempt of court.

  16. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Right to be disappeared

    Google fights vigorously against the "right to be forgotten" when it would benefit a user, but quickly obliterates all traces of someone if they consider it beneficial to their own interests.

  17. NeilHoskins

    Why should any of this be surprising?

    They changed their YouTube monetization policy overnight, in the process writing off millions of dollars owed. Including a spectacular £55 to myself. They are scum.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why should any of this be surprising?

      They are EVIL SCUM

      There fixed it for you. If you have the evidence of that debt then go to the small claims court. They won't defend the case. Mega corps are like that.

  18. Mage Silver badge

    Orwellian?

    Surely Kafkaesque?

    1. Ordinary Donkey

      Re: Orwellian?

      I think we may need to redefine "googly".

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Orwellian?

      "Surely Kafkaesque?"

      Shouldn't that be Kafkaian?

      (Yes, I'm getting my coat...)

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Orwellian?

        (Yes, I'm getting my coat...)

        You are getting all coatiasque! Or is that coatian?

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Orwellian?

          "You are getting all coatiasque! Or is that coatian?"

          That's coatiferous behaviour!

    3. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Orwellian?

      Don't call me Shirley.

  19. Mr D Spenser

    Your app has been replaced by Google Assistant

    Now I don't know for sure that that is what is happening, but I wouldn't rule it out.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Your app has been replaced by Google Assistant

      They're not really assisting in this case.

      It's more hindering.

  20. Test Man

    Multiple apps that do the same thing? Has anyone told Govia yet?

  21. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "... We are a small British company up against a monolithic, faceless Goliath."

    He is now considering a trip to London to hammer on the door of Google's office.

    At least he'll not be faceless - as he approaches Google London HQ at St. Pancras, the facial recognition system hooked up to CCTV around that area will either put a name to the face, or, will do so soon after his visit to the building. On his next visit, should there be one, a reception committee will meet him as he approaches the building

  22. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Mushroom

    no end of malicious, badly behaved or spammy and unpleasant applications

    For a while I thought you were describing Google's own apps. I get about 4 spams a day that use Google services in some way. Hundreds more are rejected daily by mail source rules.

    When I used Usenet, I recall Chinese crime gangs sending several hundred fake store spams per day, per hundreds of topics, for at least 6 years. Too bad Google didn't give a crap then.

  23. halftone

    But!

    I believe I downloaded and tried one of these RC apps, for Samsung TV. It found the TV and controlled it very well. A few weeks later I found my 2GB data allowance had been used up - which never happens. I took a look at what had been using it and the app had uploaded 169MB to somewhere in the previous 24hrs, despite me not having used it at all during that period. I deleted it, after leaving that info in a review at the Play Store.

  24. thinking ape

    Nice christian values

    Instead of multiple independent app stores, why not have a few default ones, and then layer on top 'verified by X' trust lists?

    Google can run their own trust lists, other third parties (whom one can subscribe to) have theirs. Then when one searches the store for an app, with one's lists applied, only apps which match a verified-by list are shown. If I trust my fiends Joe Smith's trust list (by subscribing to it), then all the apps he reckons are thumbs up are included.

    This way no need to deal with multiple app stores (for the developers and the users), only trust lists. This would make it easier for all. The devs wouldn't have to jump through hoops for each app store, the user wouldn't have to add multiple competing stores with duplicate apps, logins etc, the app store moderators wouldn't get so much flak if they decide an app doesn't cut the mustard this time round (as the app is still available).

    There could even be incentives in it for google. Some apps could be marked as thumbs up by an automated system for the 'google default' verified-by list. A 'google premium' list could be maintained for those that go through tighter scrutiny and pass a higher bar, which may incur additional costs to the developer (or a higher percentage cut by google). The converse might be true too. Those who meet the default google trust list are hit with a slightly lower google cut.

    Of course third parties could also apply this same mechanism. You might pay to access Joe Smiths verified-by list, as he might spend a long time analysing apps and trying to break them, perform security analysis etc.

    If one could then also combine lists, say, it has to pass the google defaults, the premium level, Joe Smiths super secure list, and Mandy's performance and good UI list, plus my friends totally unsucky apps list

    I think this could cater to the needs of all. In the case of the 'average' punter, the default google list would be applied.

    And throwing in a few buzzwords, like block chain, I could imagine a mechanism through which these trust-lists could be maintained. Developers hash, application hash, app version hash, binary blob hash. The app store proper simply stores the artifact and exposes the metadata.

    My 2 cents.

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Nice christian values

      One gotcha is when a nice trustworthy little app is bought up by an apparently reputable company but then updated to include doing less nice things on users' devices.

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