Google Blocks Downloads and Updates of Paid Apps on Play Store in Russia

US-based Google had undertaken several policy changes after the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. In March, Google had paused payments in the Play Store for users in Russia. This move has prevented these users from purchasing new apps or subscribing to plans. In May, Google enacted a new change that prevents Russian residents from downloading and updating apps that they have previously purchased on the Google Play Store.

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Google Play Store Rolls Out Safety Section to Users

About a year ago, following Apple’s introduction of Privacy Labels on the App Store, tech giant Google had announced that they would be introducing a new Safety section. The intent behind this move was to improve transparency in how apps collect and process data. The Safety section is meant to provide an overview of the information that can impact privacy and security, such as what data an app collects or shares, whether or not that data is secured, and other additional details. In the upcoming weeks, the tech giant will be rolling out the feature for everyone. Google has given devs until June 20th to submit their data safety section.

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Call Recording Apps on Google Play Store to be Killed on May 11

Tech giant Google had killed the call recording by default feature starting with Android 10. Now, starting on 11th May, Google will be implementing new Google Play Store policies which prevent third party apps from using the Accessibility API in order to record the call audio stream. This move by Google will effectively kill all third party call recording apps on Play Store.

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Google Play Protect to Revoke Permissions from Unused Android Apps

Google Play Protect logo. Text under logo reads "Google Play Protect".
Image Source: Android

Tech giant Google is introducing a change to the way Play Protect works. Now, upon detecting unused apps, Play Protect will be able to automatically remove their permissions. Based on a Statista report, smartphone users do not regularly use all the apps they download0. In fact, of all apps downloaded, people use 25% of them just once and then never again. Since several apps require a large number of permissions upon installation, this could pose a security threat in the long run. The latest Play Protect update by Google addresses this possible security breach. With this update, when apps go unused for a while, Play Protect will be able to remove permissions from them.

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Google Play Protect Warns Users to Uninstall the Vanced Manager App

Pictured, Vanced app logo. Google Play Protect Warns Users to Uninstall the Vanced Manager App.
Image Source: WikiMedia Commons

Tech giant Google had only recently taken legal action to remove YouTube Vanced app. The YouTube mod allowed users to access features reserved for YouTube Premium without paying for them. The Vanced Manager app had a large userbase. Now that Google has successfully stopped its development, the tech giant appears to be going after ways to download it. Google Play Protect has begun flagging the Vanced Manager app as harmful. It has been sending users prompts to uninstall it.

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Google Play Introduces an ‘Offers’ Tab to Display Games and Apps Deals

illustration of hand holding smartphone featuring Google Play Store Offers Tab.

Google has recently announced the introduction of a new feature to the Google Play Store. This feature comes in the form of the addition of a new tab to the app. The Google Play Store “Offers” tab is designed to assist users in finding good deals on games and apps. The company has stated that the tab will feature deals across various categories. These include travel, shopping, fitness, media, and entertainment apps. Even though Google already shows users the different kinds of offers throughout the Play Store, this new tab will now aggregate those offers into one place. The Google Play Offers tab will be rolling out over the upcoming weeks. This update will first be available to users in the United States, Indonesia, and India. Google intends to expand the launch of this new tab to more countries later in 2022. 

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Joker Malware Containing App Downloaded Half Million Times from Google Play Store

Mobile security research firm Pradeo has discovered the infamous Joker malware in an Android app named Color Message. This highly dangerous app has over 500,000 downloads. As for the Joker malware, it is assumed that it has been active for at least two years. Pradeo reports that the Joker malware is categorized as a Fleeceware. The main activity of this malware is to simulate clicks and intercept SMS in order to subscribe to unwanted premium paid services without the knowledge of the user.

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Bank Credentials Stealing Apps Were Reportedly Downloaded 300,000 Times on Google Play Store

According to reports published by ThreatFabric, android apps on Google Play Store which stole banking details had more than 300,000 downloads by unsuspecting users. These seemingly harmless apps masqueraded as QR scanners, cryptocurrency wallets, and PDF scanners, and maliciously stole sensitive financial data. User details like passwords, two-factor authentication codes, users’ logged keystrokes, and much more ended up getting stolen by these apps which mainly fall under four families of malware, namely Anatsa, Alien, Hydra, and Ermac. Google has been trying to combat this issue with their introduction of a number of restrictions which are aimed at curbing the distribution of such apps. This, in turn, has prompted the development of ingenious methods of bypassing Google Play Store security restrictions by the minds behind these malwares.

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Google Play Store Might Get New “Offers” Tab Update

In October, Google had introduced a redesigned Material You update to its Play Store that was fairly uncomplicated in that it was confined to the home screen only. It now appears that Google is adding a new feature – an “Offers” tab – to the Play Store, although at the risk of making the bottom bar too cluttered. The bottom bar of the Play Store stores four tabs for most accounts, which extends to five tabs for those accounts that are subscribed to Play Pass. However, with the addition of the new “Offers” tab, which would slot between “Movies & TV” and “Apps”, five tabs could soon become the standard for all users. Unfortunately, the addition causes the tabs to get truncated quiet badly.

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