WTF -- Google Banning StartApp's New SDK

Was just about to try StartApp’s new SDK for post-call manager and search home page changer in my 30 apps, and then heard on IRC about guys getting banned last night and this morning for using StartApp SDK, all citing “System Interference Policy”…Now I checked on this forum and saw @furioussoftware reporting that he just got banned by Google for using StartAp SDK.

WTF is going on, has anyone else gotten banned yet with new StartApp SDK ?
I know StartApp was saying for @furioussoftware’s case in the other thread that the ban may not be due to their SDK, but come on he specifically posted that Google told him he was banned for “System Interference Policy”.

If StartApp’s new SDK is banned, then IMO this also makes very dangerous networks like PingJam, AppGrade, Mobario, and all the other networks claiming their out-of-app ads are legal.

This is very disturbing… I will be taking startapp off my apps today

This story is a lot deeper and its not related to StartApp. Banned developer using app generator to generate huge number of same app (changed only background) then used different accounts to publish it on Google play. He was discovered by users of this forum and new thread was opened on Reddit. From start he defend himself how it was his family member apps and so on (over 30 accounts) and how he will take down all problematic apps in no time. After some time he success to convince Reddit admins to take down Reddit thread and admins of this forum to change a rules about posting bad apps reviews, someone would said double win. Of course he did not un-publish problematic apps. After a few weeks someone started new thread on Reddit again and this time he did not have a luck as the first time.
This is not about spamming this is about cheating Google ranking system and that the reason why they referring this problem as ‘System interference’.

Developer is spamming the “Car Alarm” apps again : BadApps

Your explanation in no way explains the fact that System Interference was cited by Google. Getting banned for multiple accounts wouldn’t be cited as System Interference by Google.

I’m curious to see if more cases come up soon on here or IRC.

My solution:
Our new SDK - the HomeBase which is fully compliance with the Google’s new policy.
This unique SDK creates a custom lock screen and increases monetization and engagement for android apps.
We pay for every active user per day, every day!
We pay a lot more than other SDKs!
It’s a win-win-win situation - unlike most SDKs, we are adding value for the end users (we don’t want them to be mad;)), we give the users a very cool lock screen that makes their use more fun, more interesting and we also give them an easy way to navigate inside their devices.

You may see on YouTube what a great product the HomeBase is:
HomeBase SDK - Customized Lock Screen For Android App Developers - YouTube

Please feel free to contact me guys!

Mail: [email protected], Skype account: idan-widdit, website: Home | Widdit


There are plenty of possibilities here. While it may be that these ad network’s new SDKs are in violation, it’s just as likely that these developers are misinterpreting their ban notices/blaming other sources than themselves/people trying to boycott different networks (not putting out names, but I’ve seen too many users being really bias towards certain networks when they are not “affiliated” with them).

The problem here is this:

There are probably about 10 networks with out-of-app units being promoted on this forum, all claiming compliance.
We as developers have to take their word for it for now, as the only way we can actually witness compliance is if the use of these networks does not result in mass bans, since Google have not and will not specifically confirm any of them. (I’ve asked about several networks and they just reply “At this time, we are unable to comment on compliance questions.” Frankly that’s absolute bulshit, since they obviously would know what they consider compliant or not as they happily ban people every day.

About what companies did get answer? If any? About what did you ask?

Personally I won’t integrate any out of the app ads till the dust settles
and becomes clearer what is allowed and what is not. I prefer having
reduced revenue for some weeks than having my account banned

I’ve asked them to confirm the compliance of out-of-app ad units from PingJam, AppWiz, StartApp, Widdit, Mobario, AppGrade and MoneDroid. Every single time they give me that response. It’s not an automated reply or anything either as there’s difference between the e-mails every time.
I really don’t understand why they won’t give official responses. Maybe they know people will integrate more ad types like that if they are all guaranteed to be compliant? Who knows.

This spammer has already new account with his poor apps, but now there is much more of that crap… :

Until know i only heard about the furious software guy getting banned are you positive that the irc talking wasn´t about the same guy? If it wasn´t how many you heard about getting banned? Why didn´t they posted here?

I wonder why startapp isnt posting any answers… When ariel wanted us to integrate the new sdk he was all over the place…

Perhaps they want more breathing room to ban ad types they happen to decide they don’t like, without going through the hassle of updating the policy again. By being intentionally vague regarding what’s allowed, no one can call them on their bullshit when they happen to ban something, as the policy does include a blanket statement that says ads are not allowed to interfere with any other apps. (if one were to read this literally, even stuff like a custom launcher or the post-call manager would be ‘interfering’ with the default launcher and the phone call system, respectively, meaning only in-app ads are safe from the banhammer)

It’s Google’s fault, mainly, due to refusing to confirm/deny which ad types are allowed. Any ad network, StartApp included, can only read the policy and try to figure it out by themselves. This is a risk for both the developers and the ad networks, so understandably they don’t want to issue official statements until there’s reasonable certainty that Google is in fact banning for these types of ads, and not for other reasons. If you want to be on the safe side, temporarily removing out-of-app ads and waiting out the storm might be the smart thing to do.

lockdown, you nailed it right on the head with your response, we can only wait, see and report, the bottom line is, if people report your app and you have our of app ads then you will most likely be banned. If your app is a junk app, like car alarm or volume booster then you will definitely be banned.

I dont know about this problem specifically, but for those who used out-of-app SDKs, remember that besides removing the SDK itself, you have to remove the permissions associated with out-of-app ads. Forgetting to remove the permission will make Google think you are still doing bad things.

Hi All,

This is a burning issue, we understand. And I think Lockdown got it right. A bit of a long post, but important to get this cleared.

We read the policy (more than once, or 100 times) and acted upon it to our best understanding and our new ad units are our interpretation of it.

Let’s review the System Interference part -

“An app downloaded from Google Play (or its components or derivative elements) must not make changes to the user’s device outside of the app without the user’s knowledge and consent.” - Our EULA covers this part, and is very clear on the changes that are being made.

“This includes behavior such as replacing or reordering the default presentation of apps, widgets, or the settings on the device. If an app makes such changes with the user’s knowledge and consent, it must be clear to the user which app has made the change and the user must be able to reverse the change easily, or by uninstalling the app altogether.” - Each ad unit of ours states the name of the origin app, is easily deleted and removed when the app is uninstalled.

“Apps and their ads must not add homescreen shortcuts, browser bookmarks, or icons on the user’s device as a service to third parties or for advertising purposes.” - Our new SDK’s are not doing any of those.

“Apps and their ads must not display advertisements through system level notifications on the user’s device, unless the notifications derive from an integral feature provided by the installed app. (e.g., an airline app that notifies users of special deals, or a game that notifies users of in-game promotions).” - Nothing to do with our SDK’s.

“Apps must not encourage, incentivize, or mislead users into removing or disabling third-party apps except as part of a security service provided by the app.” - Again, nothing our SDK OR the ads we serve do.

Now, some facts - We have over 1M daily SDK downloads of the new SDK since a few days after they launched. That’s over a week, with thousands of apps and millions of downloads of the InApp, Search Box and Post Call Manager SDK’s.

So far, except that one developer, everything appears to be fine. We are in touch with that dev, trying to figure out what the cause was. As others mentioned, there are plenty of reasons to ban a developer.

Bottom line, we are keeping a very close eye on everything, and as always we are keeping things transparent with you.

I hope this gives you our take on things. Any questions/issues/requests - feel free to reach out to me and/or [email protected]

Cheers all,

I agree. It would make things much clearer if ad networks could go to Google and get official confirmation that we are compliant. If we could have such a certification we could all just post it on our websites and all would have been clear. Since Google doesn’t officially confirm anything then what’s left for most networks and developers is to read the policy and try to understand what it says and what future changes Google will choose to implement as time goes by.

We chose to do 2 things:

  • Build a product that provides inherent value to users and extends the functionality of the app that uses our SDK
  • Have open and continuous dialogue with Google to make sure that we are compliant

Here’s what we have seen happen:

  • The concept of providing value to users and extending app functionality is catching on with developers, ad networks and users. We are very proud to be one of the companies that are leading this movement
  • Our conversations with Google have provided us with assurance that we are compliant with their current policy and with the way they view the development of the Play ecosystem

The fact of the matter is that none of the apps or developers that are working with Pingjam has ever been banned due to our service.

**edit -
I didn’t go into the details of the specific policy terms and how we are compliant with each one of them. There was a whole thread on that a month ago at - Google Play Content Policy update - Advertising Networks - Making Money with Android

I’d be happy to post a detailed list again if anyone wants

Can You provide proof of one email where google confirmed you are compliant?

haha, by open and continuous dialogue I meant imaginary, what makes anyone think Google is talking to the ad networks, they won’t even talk to the developers

Ariel, how come you aren’t in touch with Google on such matters??
As a big company with many developers, it’s irresponsible of you to let many dev’s integrate your SDK when you don’t have 100% confirmation from google that you are on the safe side regarding ad policy.
What will happen if google will ban 1000s of devs altogether because your SDK is breaking the policy as far as google concerns? What will you say then?
Being transparent means you would have told us that you don’t have confirmation about your SDK from Google side, and not sending us mails that you have 100% compliant SDK without this confirmation, letting us install it as guinea pigs.