[Update: Cheetah and DO Global Respond] A Tale of Two Shady Apps: QuickPic is back on Google Play while ES File Explorer disappears
Earlier this month, it was reported that a bevy of apps by the Chinese company DO Global were partaking in fraudulent activities, abusing permissions and clicking on ads without users’ permission to generate fake impressions. In response to these accounts, Google ousted them from the Google Play Store and restricted any attempts to monetize these apps by barring them from the AdMob network. Now, One of the most popular and longest running file browser – ES File Explorer – seems to be roped into the repressive action and has vanished from the Play Store.
Until a few years ago, ES File Explorer was hailed among the go-to choices for managing files on Android devices. But since being sold out to a Chinese third-party, it has been rigged with unnecessary and forced features like unwanted charging screen, an unwavering stream of ads, and an unsettling vulnerability allowing others to steal your files by being on the same network. Since then, its popularity has only plummeted with users moving to other alternatives like the FX File Explorer, MiXplorer, or Solid Explorer.
Even though, the ES File Explorer was attributed to the developer “ES Global,” it appears to be listed on the official website of “Du Global” – a subsidiary of DO Global, which is facing Google’s wrath for misusing app permissions. So, this removal appears to be in line with Google’s actions against the Chinese giant. Notably, ES Global has been removed from the Play Store as well.
Before the ban, DO Global had around 100 apps on the Play Store, most of which do not clearly indicate being owned by the developer, and a total of 600 million installs, jointly. Nearly half of these have been removed and DO Global has also admitted to finding irregularities in the way its apps use the AdMob functionality. But in spite of being one of the most repulsive actions against any developer in the history of Android, it feels like apps owned by DO Global – such as the ES File Explorer – might return to the Play Store with necessary adjustments.
In a similar course of action, as many as eight apps by Cheetah Mobile and its subsidiary Kika were kicked out of the Play Store for fostering a similar ad fraud in November 2018 but, have now started repopulating the Play Store. QuickPic, one of these infamous apps owned by Cheetah Mobile has also been resubmitted to the Play Store, even though the company has not been very vocal about it.
The app, however, has several issues including issues with video playback, app crashes and graphical glitches, heavy RAM consumption, and ads. Most of the recent reviews for the app echo on the same problem and it is the inability to retrieve media synched with the CM cloud. It seems that it won’t be long that app’s rating of 4.6 plummets against the backlash from users.
Update: Cheetah and DO Global Respond
Cheetah Mobile and DO Global have issued statements on the situation.
The company reached out to Android Police and clarified that QuickPic was not removed due to click fraud. The company had simply decided they didn’t want to maintain it anymore. The app was restored so they could “officially notify” users that services related to CM Cloud are being discontinued.
In the past week, we have noticed a series of reports about our apps by the media. We fully understand the seriousness of the allegations. As such, we immediately conducted an internal investigation on this matter. We regret to find irregularities in some of our products’ use of AdMob advertisements. Given this, we fully understand and accept Google’s decision. Moreover, we have actively cooperated with them by doing a thorough examination of every app involved.
We would like to thank the media, our partners, and the public for their support. Moving forward, we will strictly follow relevant regulations and continue conducting a comprehensive review of our products. Lastly, during this process, we have caused misunderstandings and great concern due to our being unable to communicate in a timely manner and provide complete information. We offer our sincere apologies.