Icon Packs Targeted Again by Google Play Store’s ‘Repetitive Content’ Banhammer

Two Icon Packs Removed from Google Play Store

Adding a new icon pack is one of the best ways to enhance your Android device’s home screen. However, the Google Play Store has recently taken down some of the packs without any clear explanation. Last month, Grabster Studios had two of its icon packs removed for featuring content that was deemed to be similar to its other apps. Now, we are seeing two more icon packs by PashaPuma Design, namely Pix Monochrome and Pix Material You Light/Dark, that has been suspended from the Play Store.

Pix Problems

How Android has featured the original Pix Material You pack as one of their favourite designs. However, the Play Store suspended the aforementioned apps on March 7 for violating its Repetitive Content policy. Specifically, the policy is meant to prevent app farms from constantly providing the same product and to catch content that’s been plagiarised from elsewhere. PashaPuma, the designer, immediately filed an appeal and was denied the next day. Therefore, to comply with the policy, PashaPuma has to submit revised apps under new listings, leaving behind the reviews, ratings, search positioning, and other important metrics of the old listings.

Unworkable Solution

The principle that Android icon packs are sold on is that customers buy the designs to integrate with their launchers and not for the application experience itself. Publishers may often post near-identical apps and text for different designs and put it on an app store for a premium. Icon pack apps aren’t just a zip file of PNGs because there’s a lot of code in them to ensure that it can work with the assigned launcher app and that the right art assets are assigned to the corresponding apps.

There are ways to integrate paywalled access to multiple designs that can be updated over the air within a single app, reducing the number of times an individual must download. However, such a unified experience can pose issues including but not limited to the marketability of individual icon designs and the notion that the app would behave like an app store due to how icon packs behave.

Play Pains

The Google Play Store’s enforcement is automation-driven, which has caused complaints from developers. There are a lot of false positives or unclear justifications that lead to flagged updates. While Google has offered some support to smaller app developers, confusing and frustrating rulings continue to be a chronic problem that disrupt developers’ workflows and income.