Knock-Off Apps Swarm Google Play

Google Play is target by app spammers (Image via Bing Creative Commons/01-02-2014)

Google Play is target by app spammers (Image via Bing Creative Commons/01-02-2014)

By Tabitha Laffernis

Android users, you’d do well to exercise a little caution – the Google Play app store has yet again fallen victim to a developer selling fake apps masquerading as the real thing.

The sham apps were created by a developer going by the name of ‘Premium App,’ and were slipped in under the guise of established and upcoming tech names, such as IFTTT, Fiver, Myspace, Slideshare, Upworthy, and Wolfram Alpha, among several others. Plus, to add insult to injury, a hefty number of the impostor apps are available on iOS but remain undeveloped for Android. They’re also sitting on the virtual shelves as paid apps, meaning it’s not just the risk of welcoming malware (and compromised security/ privacy settings) to your device that’ll cost you.

Developer name aside, another way of sorting the wheat from the chaff is the ‘U’ that appears next to some of the app names, suggesting that they’re simply ‘user’s guides’, instead of actual apps. If you come across one, it’s definitely worth your time to report it to Google, which doesn’t actively search for the knock- off apps themselves. Indeed, the Google Developer Distribution Agreement effectively absolves the search giant of responsibility, stating that the company: “does not undertake an obligation to monitor the Products or their content.”

On occasion, Google tackles spam apps en masse, running a large- scale cleanup, which, while effective in weeding out the nasty apps, might occasionally wipe out a legitimate app that’s been reported by sham developers to eliminate competition.


Tabitha Laffernis

Tabitha Laffernis is a staff writer at, the first mobile industry ecosystem. Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Tabitha’s experience as a copywriter, blogger, and reporter spans several industries, including finance, e-commerce, and non-profits. She has appeared as a panelist and written content for Oxfam, served as a corporate communications SME for the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia, and produced content for the Byron Bay Film Festival. The allure of being ahead of the curve led her to New York City, and a love of technology led her to A graduate of the University of Technology, Sydney, Tabitha is the proud holder of a newly-minted Master of Arts in Communication Management. If she’s not sampling her way through NYC’s culinary scene, you can find her on Twitter at @tabithaannl.

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