A service that detects ‘China apps’ goes viral in India

The app’s name says it all: Remove China Apps.

Developed by a self-proclaimed “Indian startup” named OneTouch AppLabs, Remove China Apps crossed 1 million downloads within 10 days of launch in May. Its overnight success came amid rising China-Indian tensions over the countries’ disputed border within the Himalayas.

Most of the app’s installs are found in India, although analytics data from App Annie shows that it’s been gaining momentum in Australia within the previous couple of days, rising to No.5 among Android tools apps.

The app is simple to use: Click scan and it’ll either congratulates one on having no Chinese apps or displays an inventory of these that are determined to be of Chinese origin — like TikTok.

India is one among the highest overseas destinations for Chinese tech companies. Xiaomi and Oppo have dominated mobile sales there for a few time and a big number of top Android apps within the country are developed by Chinese companies, as my former colleague Jon Russell acutely acknowledged . The mood has turned against China as India recently told startups that cash raised through Chinese investors would undergo additional scrutiny.

On Android, Remove China Apps features a near-perfect 4.9 out of 5 stars rating from nearly 180,000 reviews. It claims it can identify an app’s country of origin supported marketing research , while it doesn’t guarantee the result’s accuracy. It leaves the selection to users to get rid of the apps it flags, saying it provides the service for non-commercial purposes.

Despite its instant popularity, the app’s background is cryptic. the corporate website may be a simple WordPress-based site and take away China Apps is, in its own word, its first product. this is often an underwhelming achievement in contrast to its grandiose statement claiming it’s “experience of 8+ years in mobile and web application design, development and management.”

It’s also unclear how the developer defines “China apps.” as an example , will apps developed by overseas Chinese sound an alarm? How a few Chinese subsidiary that operates a totally localized team abroad? User tests show that it flags the U.S. video conferencing giant Zoom. Does the very fact that its founder Eric Yuan, an American citizen born in China, makes Zoom a “China app”? Meanwhile, it misses some obvious targets, like Chinese apps that come bundled with smartphones.

As of the writing, we haven’t heard back from the corporate regarding the methodologies it uses to identify “China apps.” It does, however, disclose online what information it collects from users, including one’s device model, the language set for the device system, the device manufacturer and app-specific information like the version code of apps, the version name of apps, and therefore the package name of apps.

The app has prompted heated debate among Chinese developers targeting international markets. Baijing, or Beluga Whale, a well-liked online community for China’s app exporters, wrote (in Chinese) that Remove China Apps is “a sort of market disruption” and called on Chinese developers to report the app to Google.

Many are wary of rising anti-China sentiment overseas. because the founding father of a serious app exporter said to me: “I think what happens in India will happen in other countries within the future, so this is often a long-term impact that ought to factor into Chinese developers’ calculation.”

There’s perhaps some assurance for Chinese developers. While users of the detection app applaud its mission, a couple of complain that there are not any immediate replacements of certain Chinese apps. one among the highest indigenous alternatives recommended by users is Jio Platforms, the well-funded Reliance subsidiary that operates a good range of mobile apps.

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