The Google Play Store’s “Duplicate Content” hammer is back to target icon packs

The Google Play Store’s “Duplicate Content” hammer is back to target icon packs

One of the best ways to add zip to your Android device’s home screen is to use a new icon pack. But the Google Play Store doesn’t seem to like some of them that much, and we don’t know exactly why. Last month, we featured the story of Grabster Studios, which had two of its icon packs removed for containing content that was deemed too similar to other icon pack apps — despite many other designers publishing icon packs with the same text and seamless app experience. While these apps were quickly restored, we’re now tracking two additional icon packs from another designer that are no longer usable.


Pix problems


Powered by PashaPuma Design

The packs in question are Pix Monochrome and Pix Material You Light/Dark by PashaPuma Design – Android Police ranked the original Pix Material You pack, still available on Google Play, as one of our favorite Android icon designs.

The Play Store suspended the apps on March 7 for violating its duplicate content policy, which is designed to prevent app farms from littering the store with essentially the same product over and over again and catching content plagiarized from elsewhere.

PashaPuma immediately filed an appeal and it was dismissed the next day. In the e-mail shared by the designer, the inspection team of the Play Store referred to a specific violation and made a proposal:

Please note that we do not allow it

  • Create multiple apps with very similar features, content, and user experience. If these apps have a small amount of content, developers should consider creating a single app that aggregates all the content.

In order to comply with the regulations, PashaPuma must submit revised applications on the new listings, leaving behind the ratings, reviews, search position and other important indicators of the old listings.

The artist from Belarus said that they live off the sales.

An impossible solution


Selling Android icon packs is based on the principle that customers buy designs to integrate with their launchers, not for the app experience. Publishers often publish nearly identical apps and text for different designs and put them on the app store for an extra fee. You buy the app, you buy the design. The designer can maintain and update the package over time to support new applications.

There are potential ways to integrate paywall access to multiple designs that can be updated over-the-air within a single app, but such a unified experience can present unique issues, including the marketability of individual icon designs and the idea that the app would behave as it should because of how icon packs work , like an app store.

Icon pack apps aren’t just glorified zip files of PNG files. There’s plenty of code in them to make sure you’re hands on with the launcher app you’re working with and that the right art tools are mapped to the right apps. Android provides an API for adaptive icon designs that allow for animations when an icon is touched, different icon shapes on top of devices, and the ability to change colors based on the Material You dynamic theme engine.

Unfortunately, the API can also prove to be inflexible. PashaPuma said that the design of Pix Monochrome was based on user requests, and the API scheme does not allow adaptive icon design to include manually set colors. This is just one of the reasons why artists sell each design in different colors as a separate APK.

Play Pains

Generic Google Play Store app hero or lifestyle image

Since we’re talking about Google Play Store policies, we also have to talk about the inevitable entropy of enforcement. One4Studio’s Vuk Andric said that the Play Store sometimes flags an update for one of its icon packs, even though all of its packs receive the same changes when it comes to the base app and text. Flagged updates will eventually turn green after Andric’s appeal.

Much of Play Store execution these days is built on automation. However, increasing efficiency comes at the cost of dealing with false positives or unclear rationale, and some implementation decisions have confused and frustrated developers to the nth degree. While Google has offered some olive branches to smaller app developers, questionable decisions remain a chronic problem that disrupts developer workflows and revenue.

Google has acknowledged our request for comment. We’ll update this story when we hear back. Until then, Pix Material You Light/Dark and Pix Monochrome are not available in the Play Store.

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