Three days after Samsung added ad-blocking support for its Android browser, Google pulled the first participating app from its store.
Adblock Fast from Rocketship Apps was downloaded 50,000-plus times before being unceremoniously yanked from Google Play, according to The Next Web, which cited an email sent to developer Brian Kennish.
“I reviewed Adblock Fast…and found that it violates section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement,” the email said. “This particular app has been disabled as a policy strike.”
The section in question, which references “prohibited acts,” requires that developers not distribute apps that interfere with other installed services—i.e. don’t block profitable advertisements.
Technically, Adblock Fast disrupts websites, as defined by the terms and conditions. But, as TNW pointed out, Adblock Fast was sanctioned by the Samsung Internet app and used an official API to block content.
“While we don’t comment on specific apps, we can confirm that our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers,” a Google spokesman told PCMag.
Rocketship Apps did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said on its website that it is “working to somehow, someway bring the app back to Android.”
Google applied a similar technique in early 2013, when it removed from Google Play any applications that allow for ad blocking—including AdBlock Plus. The company later released a full version of its ad-blocking browser for Android and iOS.
In the fall, Apple added ad-blocking support on iOS 9. Adblock Fast became a popular choice for iPhone users, alongside services like Purify Blocker and Crystal, the latter of which also added support for Samsung Internet and is still available on Google Play.
Cupertino in October removed several apps, including ad-blocker Been Choice, over concerns they could view encrypted traffic. Developer Marco Arment also pulled his own app, Peace, from the Appe Store because he was concerned about its effect on companies that rely on ads for regular income.
The New York Times last year found that while ad blockers save battery and promise speedier access to Web content, average users might not notice much of a difference.