Tasker Pulled From Google Play Store

Tasker Pulled From Google Play Store

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At XDA, we are big fans of Tasker: the tool which can automate almost every task on your device. Tasker can be used to setup your device to work exactly the way you want it to, making your device truly one of a kind in its own unique way.

We have a wide variety of guides and post on our forums on getting started with Tasker. There are even XDA TV videos on the same, covering basic, intermediate and even advanced uses of Tasker. Needless to say, once you get the hang of it, the app is well worth the price it commands.

Earlier today, it was reported by users of the app that they could no longer find Tasker on the Play Store. When asked by users, the dev responded with the following:

Google have removed it, as far as I can see mistakenly since they are complaining
about something being in the manifest which is simply not there.

In a couple of days, after I’ve got a few thousand complaint emails, they may have
gotten round to reading the appeal.

Pent

What is the developer referring to here? If we are to take an educated guess, the reason for which the app got removed from the store is Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s Doze feature, and more specifically, the “android.permission.REQUEST_IGNORE_BATTERY_OPTIMIZATIONS” permission in the manifest of the Tasker apk. The permission relates to apps being granted the ability to be whitelisted from Doze and its effects. Google’s own guidelines for the same are as follows:

In general, your app should not be on the whitelist unless Doze or App Standby break the core function of the app or there is a technical reason why your app cannot use GCM high-priority messages.

The developer was made aware of the potential issues this permission causes by other users:

Just a tip: this permission “android.permission.REQUEST_IGNORE_BATTERY_OPTIMIZATIONS” is only for instant messaging, voip or chat apps according to Google Play team. Your app will be removed from play store if you don’t remove it. I know, the docs says that if doze/app standby break the core of your app you can use it, but it seems Google Play team is not agree with that statement.

The permission made an appearance in the Beta release of the app, which surprisingly, was distributed only via the Tasker website. The Play Store releases of the app, which are of stable nature, did not contain the permission, so the only possibility of Google picking up the presence of such a permission is via Google’s on-device apk checking via the Google Play Services framework on a beta tester’s Android 6.0 device.

The complete picture and the exact details of this case are not clear. Google’s developer support are famously known for being hard-walled in nature, and the developer of Tasker has not been very specific with details. Google preemptively removing apps which use the Doze whitelisting permission even on releases which are not meant for public consumption is indeed a very heavy handed move. We understand that such policies are needed if Doze and excellent idle times are to be achieved, but just hope that there was more communication as well as transparency involved from Google’s end.

At the end of the day, the app is not to be found on the Play Store even for satisfied and paid users. It is a disheartening move, one that affects power users the most. Apps like Tasker represent the very spirit of Android: that anything is possible if you put effort towards it. You can still download a trial 7-day version of the app from the Tasker website.

We hope that the matter gets resolved at the earliest, and that Google works on clearing the ambiguity and differences in its guidelines and their implementations and takes a step back to rethink on its “guilty until proven innocent” approach. If you are a developer of any non-IM app which uses the Doze whitelisting permission, please be advised to remove the whitelisting to avoid potential issues in the future.

EDIT: A few hours after this post went live, Tasker has been restored back on to the Play Store

What are your thoughts on Google’s methodology in dealing with Play Store developers? Let us know in the comments below!