UC Browser app vanishes from Play Store following privacy concerns

Wednesday, 15 Nov, 2017

The impetus for this move appears to be existence of (now removed) apps in the Play Store which use Accessibility features in conjunction with a vulnerability patched as part of the September security update to install malware. However, as time passed on, other companies who develop their own high-end browsers have emerged.

Just recently, the browser hit a huge milestone: 500 million downloads on the Play Store.

Now, there have been no reasons declared, no announcements done on the subject either from Google or UC Web. The email reads, "We're contacting you because your app, BatterySaver System Shortcut, with package name com.floriandraschbacher.batterysaver.free is requesting the 'android.permission.BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE.' Apps requesting accessibility services should only be used to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps". It's built to seek out files you don't need - rarely used apps, duplicate images and spam - so you can easily delete them.

UC Browser's disappearance was first spotted by the eagle-eyed netizens on Reddit, and its users have an interesting theory. To keep it running as fast and smooth as possible, it's always a good idea to have the latest version ... The step is in line with a previous report that suggested UC Browser was stealing user sensitive data and sending it back to remote servers in China without user's consent.

At the time of this writing, Google has not issued an official statement regarding the emails sent to developers about the use of accessibility services. UCWeb has previously denied any wrongdoing, stating that it "will not do anything to breach the trust of our users" and that it takes "security and privacy very seriously".

We're keeping an eye out for how this progresses.

When you search for "UC Browser" (PlayStore Link) you're shown some knockoffs and also the official mini version of UC Browser.