Last year, a third-party app store by the name of Aptoide had sued Google in the EU accusing them of engaging in monopolistic practices. The app store has been available to Android users for quite some time but was flagged by Google Play Protect as 'harmful'. Now, Aptoide is starting the “Google, Play Fair!” campaign to state its case and also accuse Google of “preventing users” from choosing their own app store.
Since Summer 2018, Google Play Protect flags Aptoide as a harmful app, hiding it in users’ Android devices and requesting them to uninstall it. Google Play Protect is Google’s built-in malware protection software for Android, but we believe the way it works damages users’ rights.
The reason for this campaign is how Google actively pushed Aptoide off of devices. Google Play Protect has deemed Aptoide to be unsafe and started prompting users to uninstall it as well as hiding it on the phone. The move comes off as anti-competitive as several studies have determined Aptoide to be a safe marketplace for users. It is rather strange that Google flags Aptoide as unsafe on Android when other larger stores such as Galaxy Apps and the Amazon app store are safe. Google is yet to explain why they flagged Aptoide as harmful. Aptiode CEO and co-founder Paulo Trezentos told TechCrunch in a statement:
In 2018, we had 222 million yearly active users. Last month (May’19), we had 56 million unique MAU. We estimate that the Google Play removal and flagging had caused the loss of 15% to 20% of our user base since June’18. Fortunately we have been able to compensate that with new users and new partnerships but it is a barrier to a faster growth
Currently, the only way for users to keep using Aptoide is to switch off Google Play Protect altogether. Although Aptoide may be deemed safe, installing third-party APKs from sketchy sources is not recommended unless you know what you're doing. There are even rumours that Aptoide may partner with Huawei as its app distributor in the EU.