Disable Pingjam for Apps on Google Play

edited November 2013 in Announcements

It would appear that Google decided this morning that it does not like Pingjam - despite the fact that Pingjam is in compliance with an opt-in dialog at app startup and their company apparently getting the 'thumbs up' from Google a while ago:

"An app downloaded from Google Play (or its components or derivative elements) must not make changes to the user’s device outside of the app without the user’s knowledge and consent."

I would recommend that you turn off Pingjam in your apps, rebuild and update in Google Play ASAP.

For further details, you may wish to read this thread:

We're investigating further and apparently Pingjam's CEO Elnor Roz has reached out to his contacts at Google, but of course they are away for the weekend. In the meantime, they have disabled their service while clarification can be made. For now though, the safest bet is to remove Pingjam from your Android apps immediately.



  • Update: I have received the following response from Pingjam's CEO:

    Hi Colin,

    I am very sorry that the apps have been removed. I can
    definitely feel the developers' pain and I really hope that all the apps
    will be reinstated soon.

    A small number of apps that have been
    working with us has been removed today and we have reached out to our
    contacts at Google to figure out what’s happening. We’ve been told that
    before Monday there is nothing that can be done and that we can hope to be hearing back on Monday.

    don’t know whether this is caused by us or not but to be on the safe
    side, we have shut down our service so that the caller id isn’t working
    anymore and neither are the ads. Hopefully this will prevent further

    Throughout the past few months we’ve had multiple
    conversations with Google and have repeatedly been assured that our
    service is fully compliant and that as long as the user is aware that
    they’re installing a caller id service then we are fine. If this turns
    out to have changed - we will be very surprised. Regardless, we are here
    to work with you to help get your apps back in the store. 

    recommend that the developers write an email to the Google team to ask
    for explanation and to ask for the apps to be reinstated. We will keep
    pushing on our end. If there’s anything that we can help with - please
    don’t hesitate to let me know.


    Elnor Rozenrot
    Co-Founder & CEO, Pingjam
  • Unless there is a simple fix, do you think we could all get the ability to rename our apks for a few months?
  • Colin:
    My app was suspended yesterday by Google for TOS violations related to Pingjam.  

    I am upset but also very, very confused:  I had deselected the Pingjam option in the Monetization tab of the dashboard MONTHS ago, and re-built numerous versions of the app and installed those re-built .APKs to the GP store:   and yet my app was flagged.   
    Can you explain why this occurred?  Shouldn't the Pingjam SDK have been wiped from the code after the new builds ?   Please provide an explanation.

    (btw:  I know that i can relaunch the app under a new package name, but then I will lose 100+ positive reviews and a #1 ranking ( thats right:  # 1 !!!!! ) in my niche!

  • @amsinco - We do not include the Pingjam code if it is not enabled in your project. You must have missed updating something in Google Play. Contact Google Play for clarification
  • A further update from Pingjam that was emailed to all their customers this morning:

    yesterday we've received several reports of apps which use Pingjam and
    other ad SDKs being removed from the Play Store, citing violation of the
    “System Interference” clause (http://play.google.com/about/developer-content-policy.html#system-interference).

    I’m writing to explain what we are doing to deal with this situation.

    I’d like to assure you that the Pingjam SDK hasn’t behaved in any way
    that violates the policy. No changes have been made to the device
    without the user’s consent, and banned ad methods (icons, notifications
    etc) weren’t used by us in any case.

    primary concern is that developers aren't hurt, so although we are
    certain that our system is compliant, we've disabled the Caller ID
    service until further notice. As of yesterday none of our apps display
    caller ID or ads.

    are working tirelessly to reach out to Google developer relations to
    investigate the apps removal, but since this is the weekend our ability
    to create a meaningful conversation is limited. I assure you that if
    indeed we verify that Pingjam was the reason for this we will let you
    know. Our goal is to help fix the situation so that apps are restored
    with their install base and ratings.

    the meantime, as a precaution, I'd like to suggest to those of you that
    haven't lost apps that you remove our SDK from your apps and republish.

    of you that have lost apps - we are working very hard to try to
    understand and resolve this with you. Let's share what we learn so that
    we can help the community get their apps back. Please share what you are
    doing in regards to communicating with Google. Hopefully we can
    identify a best practice that helps us all.

    Link to Google's appeal page - https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/contact/appappeals

    I will keep you posted on our progress.


  • Colin: 
    Thanks for your response, but just for the record:  

    -I know for a fact that I de-selected that option ( I am not guessing or deploying wishful thinking here - I am very thorough about these things, and I KNOW what I did. ) .  

    -I can say however that I did leave the API Key information in the designated space, even though the 'No' option was selected.  Could this be it ??

    I know it may sound as if I am ' flogging a dead horse ' and giving you a hard time - but that is not the case.  I just want to understand what happened so I can avoid this in the future. 

  • @amsinco - Then it must be something about your app content other than Pinjam. We absolutely 100% do not include any Pingjam code in apps unless you enable it. There are tens of thousands of apps in Google Play made with Andromo that are not affected by this Pingjam issue, because they do not use Pingjam in their app. You'll want to get further clarification from Google as to the exact reason your app was suspended.
  • 16 apps suspended so far.  Ouch!
  • @turbomike: Did you use Pingjam?
  • Yes.  They suspended every app using Pingjam in one of my accounts (16), but left 4 apps alone in my second account on Google Play. Those 4 were just now rebuilt without Pingjam and uploaded.

  • While we're still holding out hope that Pingjam will be able to resolve this issue with Google on Monday, we're also looking into some options on this side to make it easier to simply rebuild an affected app with an alternate package name. Hopefully Pingjam and Google will be able to work out their differences, as that is a better solution. It is very odd though, as I personally can find no reason for Google to be mass banning apps using Pingjam - there is a very clear opt-in dialog at app startup. It's also not very cool that they decided to do this in the wee morning hours of Saturday when nobody is working...

    In any case, we'll come up with a way for affected Andromo users to build with another package name should that be the only option.
  • i do not use pingjam in my app,but it was suspended
  • My app was suspended on Friday. I haven't been able to figure out why. I ddn't use pingjam. I tried it a while back and thought it was annoying so i figured id never subject my users to it. 

    So I really have no idea why my app was suspended since i haven't used pingjam in a very longtime. Unless its one of those things where people are guilty by association, so maybe just having the name andromo is enough to make them think you are using pinjam.

    I appealed, and  got a letter this morning saying it was denied but they didn't give any further reasons other than to refer to the original email.
  • At least you got reply. I made my appeal on Saturday still on word ....

    Btw. Any updates on this matter. 
  • @farmer @toon - What was the reason provided to you by Google? If you
    weren't using Pingjam, then it was for some other reason, like content.
    They don't just suspend your app by 'association'.
  • @f1 - it's 7:00 am in California. I don't think you'll be getting an update from Pingjam until later in the day.
  • Uhh... sorry Colin. you are very wrong. PINGJAM SDK is NOT ENABLED in my apps. it was removed and apps were rebuilt months ago. still... EVERY APP THAT EVER HAD PING JAM IS NOW FLAGGED. even though I HAVE CHECKED NO UNDER THE ENABLE PINGJAM ADS.  this is confirmed, as I am looking at my projects where it says I dont have Pingjam enabled... all gone. all flagged.
  • edited November 2013
    Here's the thread of communications I've had with them. They never actually revealed what it was or why it was suspended. They never actually mentioned Pinjam either, but bear in mind my app is a simple app that uses andromo for the initial display of the buttons, and then the actual actions are "website action" which basically just shows pages on my site that are formatted to be mobile friendly so users can watch videos from my website. But I did get an email from Pignjam which basically gave me an idea that it was Pinjam related.

    All my videos are 100% my own copyright, and we don't do any shady ad display stuff.

    The only two common factors here are:

    1. Yes I did try out Pinjam once, I didn't like it and didn't think my viewers would either so we got rid of it a long time ago.

    2. It's built with andromo.

    Anyhee, here's the communication thread...

    Their initial notification (Nov 1):

    This is a notification that your application, Quetzal TV, with package ID com.andromo.dev245078.app228620, has been removed from the Google Play Store.

    REASON FOR REMOVAL: Violation of the System Interference provision of the Content Policy.

    All violations are tracked. Serious or repeated violations of any
    nature will result in the termination of your developer account, and
    investigation and possible termination of related Google accounts. If
    your account is terminated, payments will cease and Google may recover
    the proceeds of any past sales and the cost of any associated fees (such
    as chargebacks and payment transaction fees) from you.

    If your developer account is still in good standing, you may revise
    and upload a new instance of the app that is compliant with the
    developer terms. Before uploading any new applications, please review
    the Developer Distribution Agreement and Content Policy.

    If you feel we have made this determination in error, you can visit this Google Play Help Center article for additional information regarding this removal.

    The Google Play Team

    My apeal on (Nov 2) Via their form...

    On 11/02/13 11:44:11 toontitan@gmail.com wrote:
    registered_email_address: toontitan@gmail.com

    abuse_type: other

    abuse_type--other: The email i received says, Violation of the System

    Interference provision of the Content Policy.

    package_name: com.andromo.dev245078.app22862

    appeal_reason: My app is perfectly safe, it doesn't really require any

    special permissions or require any sort of modifications on the users

    device. All it does is it displays a list of episodes to watch (episodes

    that we create and are our own work 100%) and when the user clicks an

    option it displays the appropriate page on the web where the user can view

    the videos. Its perfectly harmless.

    Any ads that are displayed are ads by Google AdMob.

    If you insist that there's something wrong with our app please let us know

    what it is, specifically, so I can correct it.

    :---- Automatically added fields ----:

    Language: en

    IIILanguage: en

    auto-helpcenter-id: 203

    auto-helpcenter-name: googleplay/android-developer

    auto-internal-helpcenter-name: androidmarket



    auto-user-logged-in: true

    auto-user-was-internal: false

    IssueType: appappeals

    form-id: appappeals

    form: appappeals



    AutoDetectedBrowser: Firefox 24.0

    AutoDetectedOS: Microsoft Windows 7


    An email from Elnor (Nov 3)... [It's a long and canned email so im truncating it, most of you got the same one Im sure.]

    Hi there,

    yesterday we've received several reports of apps which use Pingjam and
    other ad SDKs being removed from the Play Store, citing violation of the
    “System Interference” clause (http://play.google.com/about/developer-content-policy.html#system-interference).

    I’m writing to explain what we are doing to deal with this situation.

    I’d like to assure you that.... Blah blah blah ...I will keep you posted on our progress.



    The decision from Google This morning (Nov 4):


    We have reviewed your appeal and will not be reinstating your app.
    This decision is final and we will not be responding to any additional
    emails regarding this removal. 

    If your account is still in good
    standing and the nature of your app allows for republishing you may
    consider releasing a new, policy compliant version of your app to Google
    Play under a new package name. We are unable to comment further on the
    specific policy basis for this removal or provide guidance on bringing
    future versions of your app into policy compliance. Instead, please
    reference the REASON FOR REMOVAL in the initial notification email from Google Play.

    Please note that additional violations may result in a suspension of your Google Play Developer account.


    The Google Play Team

  • also... any paid apps I have made where the only difference between the paid and the free version would be advertising... the paid app still exists. so the only difference is my free apps HAD IN THE PAST USED PINGJAM. I removed pingjam MONTHS AGO and rebuilt and republished to google play without pingjam. I am being redundant with my wordiness because I want you to understand that ANY APP WHICH EVER HAD USED PINGJAM IN THE PAST EVER... REGARDLESS OF NEW BUILDS BEING PINGJAM FREE>>> IS NOW REMOVED BY GOOGLE.
  • edited November 2013
    @darthvapor That would be my assumtion. Google keeps copies of all the old apk not just the production version. So they are most likely basing their findings on some automated scan that looks at the old APKs in the system.

    The sad part is they wont even give you the courtesy of letting you peak with a live person.  They obviously didnt take a look at my app otherwise they would have realized I don't use Pinjan and their stupid little response makes it impossible to get anywhere else in this issue...

    "We have reviewed your appeal and will not be reinstating your app. This decision is final and we will not be responding to any additional emails regarding this removal. "

    ...I feel like I been f***d in the a** without lubrication or at the very least the common courtesy of a reacharound.
  • sounds like google doesn't care about this issue. and isn't going to help pingjam help andromo help its users. andromo... i trusted you. that's why i bought your service the day you changed to a paid service. and renewed my subscription when it expired. sorry to say, but Andromo should have scrutinized its advertisers a bit more. I could tell right away that Pingjams methods were not straight forward. That's why I pulled their ads from my apps long ago, but I am still dealing with the dammages. Andromo should have been looking out for us. they should not have allowed this to happen. Any options Andromo gives us in there service should be 100% compliant to Google play... without any discrepancy what so ever.  This Issue has CLASS ACTION written all over it. I hope Andromo can make it right. IDGAF what PingJam does... I don't pay PingJam. I PAY for Andromo. 
  • unfortunately... Andromo has likely assumed a lack of responsibilities in the Terms of services section of their site. What a surprise.  AGAIN... the whole point of this thread is to get you to pull Pingjam from your apps and rebuild... IM TELLING YOU (AND COLIN) THAT THIS ACTION WONT PREVENT GOOGLE FROM PULLING YOUR APPS. (if you have ever used Pingjam in any version of your apps History... you are most likely scroogled)
  • Hi, I think that you are been too hard with Andromo, they have gave us always new updates and trying to give us new ways of earning, I thin that the real problem is not Pingjam or Andromo, is actually Google, if you check out in the Internet they have banned a lot of developers and actually don´t care, they don´t give another chance, even if they were wrong.

    You shouldn´t blame Andromo for this, as you all say, you removed Pingjam if that was the case, and you shouldn´t have any problem, the other is according to Pingjam they have always communicated to Google and say they are good with the Pocilies of Google even though they recently changed, they did the corrections.

    I think that for some reason Google have a lot of apps and wanted to swipe some of them and refresh Google Play, I don´t know what can they earn doing that, or if they have problem with andromo users, or andromo apps for some instance, but they haven´t tell us that.

    I hope this Google issue could be resolved and everybody is happy again, but certainly I dude it, knowing how Google works.

    Best luck for everyone.

  • Well, while I may not be as 'hot under the collar' as DarthVapor, I tend to agree with his/ her analysis.  

    Please see my earlier comment in this thread where I asked Colin specifically about selection and de-selection.  Like you, I had used Pingjam in the past with my flagged app, but quickly de-selected it months ago, and rebuilt several times.  So, I can see one of two explanations:   either Google made their decision based on old previously installed versions of the app when the Pingjam SDK was enabled OR  there was an issue around the deselection issue and the SDK was not fully purged from the re-built code.     I guess we will never know.  

    But, the take-away for me is this:  I will only use Admob advertising on apps that I list on Google Play.  And I will certainly never experiment with any of these dinky, poorly-screened, adnetworks that may be presented to us from time to time.  We must all take responsibility for actions and do our own due-diligence as developers and not rely on the platform or anyone else !  

    Ok, now that is off my chest:  I will move on from this !   Lesson learned.
  • As someone else said in the another discussion, I think the reason is that Pingjam could be a competition for kit kat, here is how http://www.phonearena.com/news/KitKat-dialer-could-show-ads_id48982#2-Code-in-the-dialers-APK-suggests-that-ads-are-coming

    But that doesn´t excuse Google for banning all the apps.

  • Here is the original post I had made in these forums on april 25, 2013... along with colin adams response... I'm just sayin... I warned us!... I told us so!

    One of my users sent me an email (THE FIRST DAY I ADDED PINGJAM) saying he was uninstalling my app because of the new permissions. As it turns out, Pingjam adds a permission to read phone numbers, access, intercept and redirect incoming calls... If you click on the permission in google play to find out what it is all about, a message says that malicious developers can obtain private info with this permission, and that users should only download if they trust the source. (although there is no reason not to trust me as a source, I don't know the 10,000 users who use my app). I did not think twice to re-release updates, removing the new service from all of my apps. Tapgage ads went up seamlessly and unnoticed. NOT THE SAME (for me) with PingJam. So... did anyone else experience issues here? did I pull the service to hastily? 
    colinadamscolinadams April 25 Flag
    @darth - Turning on Pingjam requires a number of permissions as follows:

    So, it's not for everyone or all apps - but their research seems to show that most people don't care about granting the extra permissions, and I believe it also showed that something like 63% of users will elect to activate the pinjam service when they install your app.

    So - try it out perhaps and see how it goes. Test the waters so to speak before jumping in head-first. But, they do pay well. If you have an app with 100,000 active US/Canada installs, it could add $500/month to your revenue...

    - See more at: http://forums.andromo.com/discussion/comment/1695#Comment_1695 - See more at: http://forums.andromo.com/discussion/802/andromo-should-have-seen-this-comming#Item_2
  • edited November 2013
    It would be very troubling if Google started banning apps based on older versions, especially when they go so far as to say that "you may revise and upload a new instance of the app that is compliant with the developer terms" in the original email. Using the term "revise" implies that you could make changes and update the existing app, but they also use the term "instance" which makes it unclear whether they mean a new version or a fresh new app with a different package name. The second email spells out that your only recourse at that point is to make a new app, so perhaps that's what they meant all along, but it's not something that should require interpretation.

    It seems incredibly unfair that Google would ban an app that is currently compliant based on the behaviour of an older version. In fact, if that were the case, there are a lot of very popular apps I can think of that would be getting banned for prior behaviour, like showing push ads in the past.

    Something doesn't really add up.

  • edited November 2013
    I do want to clarify is that there is absolutely not any trace of Pingjam's SDK in any Andromo apps when Pingjam is disabled.

    If you disabled pingjam, saved the settings, rebuilt your app, and updated the app in Google Play with the correct .apk file, then your app does not have any trace of Pingjam within it.

    The only way an app can still have any trace of Pingjam in it is if you didn't disable the setting, didn't rebuild the app, or didn't update it in Google Play.

  • @darthvapor I understand that it sucks to lose your apps and I'm sorry that it happened. I've been going through the code all morning and I can tell you that what Lorne is saying is correct: if Pingjam is disabled the jar is not included.

    I've also taken the time to go through the database to see how many of our users have Pingjam enabled within their apps, and therefore how many of our users/apps are going to be affected. From what I can tell you were on that list with Pingjam enabled in five of your apps, however I can't say whether or not those apps were still in Google Play over this past weekend.

    We'll post more when we know more.

  • For those of you who were affected, for whatever reason, we're working on a way for Andromo users to rebuild their apps with an alternate package name.

    You can do that right now if you have a Professional subscription, but as Colin mentioned earlier in the thread we'll make something available to all users soon so that at least you won't need to recreate your project from scratch in order to relaunch your application.
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