One of the best ways to add zip to your Android device’s home screen is with a new icon pack. But the Google Play Store doesn’t seem to be so keen on some of them, and we don’t know exactly why. Last month, we brought you the story of Grabster Studios pulling two of their icon packs because they featured content that was deemed too similar to their other icon pack apps, even though many other designers publish packs of icons with the same text and application experience without any problems. While these apps were quickly reinstated, we are now tracking two more icon packs from another designer that are out of service.
Provided by: PashaPuma Design
The packs in question are Pix Monochrome and Pix Material You Light/Dark by PashaPuma Design – Android Police has featured 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 repetitive content policy, which aims to prevent app farms from polluting the store with what is essentially the same product over and over again and catching content that has been plagiarized from other places.
PashaPuma immediately filed an appeal and it was denied the next day. In an email the designer shared with us, the Play Store review team cited a specific violation and made a suggestion:
Please note that we do not allow this
- Building multiple apps with very similar functionality, content, and user experience. If each of these applications has a small volume of content, developers should consider creating a single application that aggregates all of the content.
To comply, PashaPuma will need to submit revised applications with new listings, leaving behind reviews, ratings, search ranking and other important metrics from old listings.
The Belarus-based artist told us that they depend on the income from sales to live.
Android icon packs are sold on the premise that customers buy the designs to integrate with their launchers and not for the app experience itself. Publishers often publish nearly identical apps and text for different layouts and will put it on an app store for a premium. You buy the app, you buy the design. The designer can maintain and update the package with support for new applications over time.
There are potential ways to integrate paywall access to multiple over-the-air updatable designs within a single app, but such a unified experience may pose its own issues, which may include marketing the designs of individual icons, as well as the idea that the app would behave like an app store because of how icon packs work.
Icon pack apps aren’t just a glorified PNG zip file. There’s a lot of code to make sure you can shake hands with the launch app you’re working with, and that the right art resources are assigned to the right apps. Android provides an API for adaptive icon layouts that allow animations when an icon is touched, different icon shapes on top of assets, and the ability to change color based on the Material You dynamic theme engine.
Unfortunately, the API can also be inflexible. PashaPuma told us that their Pix Monochrome design was made in response to user requests, and that the API schema does not allow an adaptive icon design to have manually configured colors. This is just one reason why you’ll see an artist sell a design in different colors as separate APKs.
Since we’re talking about Google Play Store policy, we also need to talk about the inevitable entropy in how it’s enforced. One4Studio’s Vuk Andric told us that the Play Store will occasionally flag an update for one of its icon packs despite all of its packs receiving the same changes in terms of the core app and text. These flagged upgrades finally get the green light after Andric’s appeals.
Much of the Play Store app is driven by automation these days. However, improving efficiency comes at the price of having to deal with false positives or unclear justifications, and some of these enforcement 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 accepted our request for comment. We’ll update this story when we hear back. Meanwhile, both Pix Material You Light/Dark and Pix Monochrome remain outside the Play Store.