Eagle-eyed community members spotted that one of the community’s beloved projects, Magisk, was no longer available on the Google Play Store. The Play Store URL for Magisk Manager would 404, indicating that the project was taken off the primary and most popular source of Android app distribution. Even if you had the app downloaded previously, the listing would no longer show up on your ‘Installed Apps’ tab in the Play Store.
XDA Recognized Developer and Magisk’s Main Developer topjohnwu took to our forums to shed light on the issue:
This is what I get from Google this morning:
Magisk Manager, com.topjohnwu.magisk, has been suspended and removed from Google Play as a policy strike because it violates the malicious behavior policy.
What is the so-called “malicious behavior”? From what I’ve suspect, viewing the definition of malicious behavior, most likely I violated the two following policies:
For the first policy: Magisk bypasses Google’s strict compatibility check – the CTS check on tampered devices (SafetyNet checks CTS status). CTS is what Google judge whether a manufacturer can ship a device with its Google services, so Google is definitely really serious about this issue. Also, Magisk roots your device, patches tons of SELinux policies (all rooting method do) etc, which is also an obvious security breach. However, I doubt this was the main reason, since many superuser management apps are also on the Play Store.
The main reason should be the other one.
The second rule I listed can be translated to: you cannot have anything “market-like” to let users download and run code on your device. Apparently, Magisk’s Online Repo is a complete violation against this rule.
If it is for the second reason, Google’s removal for Magisk should not come as a huge surprise. Google does not allow any other Play Store competitor, however limited in its functionality, onto the Play Store. This is one of the reasons why our very own XDA application on the Play Store is different and limited than the XDA Labs application available in our forums. XDA Labs has an app distribution system in place, which is not compatible with Google Play Store’s policies and hence the XDA app on the Play Store does not feature the distribution system.
Now I have two choices: Remove the online repo from Magisk Manager, and re-release a NEW APP on the store (yes, once your app is pulled down, the package name and app name is permanently banned).
The other way is to simply just distribute the app through places like XDA and third-party markets (just like Xposed Installer).
I prefer the second decision, because I can still use the same package name, also I wouldn’t need to remove the online repo feature, which is one of the most precious thing for a development community like XDA. What I really lost is the $25 dollars for Play Store registration lol.
Development is definitely NOT suspended in any way, in fact, I had significant progress lately.
There are still some bugs not sorted out, and I need some feedback from the users, so I decide to start a new thread for public beta testing! Expect the new thread to be live very soon, but I still need to do some small adjustments to deal with the unfortunate Play Store situation….
So the conclusion is: Yes, Magisk Manager is pulled from Play Store due to policy violation; and no, this is not a sign for the end of development. In fact, I think Magisk is undergoing the most active development since release!
Despite the Play Store setback, Magisk is still going on strong. The developer insists that the loss of Play Store as a distribution method does not signal the end of development for Magisk. In fact, the public beta for Magisk is coming soon, and the upcoming v13 release claims to be the largest release for Magisk since its release! A lot has changed for Magisk, and the developer will be looking for testers and users to provide feedback and logcats to fix issues. Expect more news on Magisk’s development very soon.
The Play Store’s popularity as a distribution platform on Android is undisputed and losing it does affect how easy it is to make your app available to a very large portion of Android users. However, Magisk is not as affected as one may prima facie believe. Magisk attracts only those users who want root and other customizations, and this by itself implies a savvier audience. Also, you can sideload the Magisk Manager apk, which should be no big deal for users who are looking forward to take advantage of Magisk’s functionality.
XDA Labs is an app platform that serves as an alternative to the Google Play Store, and it is best serving its purpose in times like these. You can have updates to Magisk Manager pushed through XDA Labs, so we recommend installing XDA Labs to get notified whenever a new update to Magisk is available. This is also not the first instance where an app has been removed from the Play Store but continues to be distributed through XDA Labs, like AdAway.
As topjohnwu mentioned, an update to Magisk is on the horizon. Stay tuned!