Apple and Google have delisted over 813,000 apps from their respective app stores in the first half of this year, as per the H1 2021 Delisted Mobile Apps Report by Pixalate. Pixalate, a California-based fraud protection, privacy, and compliance analytics platform analysed more than five million mobile apps across App Store and Google Play and found out that 15 percent of the total apps were delisted in the first half of the year. Various factors contributed to the apps’ delisting, including app store policy breach or the developer’s withdrawal. The delisted apps can remain installed on a device even after the app has been removed from the app stores and this has been a cause of concern for consumers. The analysis was aimed to help developers and advertisers to recognise potential threats of privacy and compliance breaches.
There were several reasons why the apps got delisted. About 66 percent of the delisted Google apps had at least one “dangerous permission.” According to Android for Developers, dangerous permissions — also known as runtime permissions — gives an app additional access to restricted data, and allows the app to perform restricted actions that more substantially affect the system and other apps. About 27 percent of the delisted apps had access to GPS coordinates and 19 percent of the apps could access the camera. Some apps were also delisted because of an app store policy breach or due to the developer’s withdrawal.
A point of concern to both advertisers and consumers alike is that the delisted apps can remain installed on a device even after the app has been removed from the app store. If an app was removed following an app store policy violation, this poses an increased risk to consumer safety and privacy, and brand safety for the advertisers.
The goal of the report was to help developers and advertisers recognise potential threats of privacy and compliance breaches.