Consider this a lesson in taking app claims (and user reviews!) at face value. Uploaded on March 28th, Virus Shield was the third most popular paid app, and the most popular overall, on the Google Play Store. Retailing for $3.99, the app promised to search a user’s Android smartphone for viruses without affecting battery life. In a little over a week, it had been downloaded more than 30,000 times and had received multiple 5-star reviews.
Unfortunately, the app didn’t do anything. Well, when pressed, the app’s icon changed, but as Android Police concluded when it examined the app, there was no additional code within to do anything else.
Here’s what Jesse Carter of Deviant Solutions, the app’s “developer”, had to say about the mess:
“One of our developers simply made a foolish mistake. The app version that was decompiled by AndroidPolice was not intended to be released. It was an early placeholder that our ui designer created. There was a mix-up between the version that contained the antivirus code for our app.
“After reading the article created by Android Police, we immediately unpublished our app from the marketplace to upload the intended version. However, our Google Play Developer account was suspended before we could make said amendments. We have not withdrawn any earnings received from Virus Shield and intend to refund all purchases. We may possibly upload the intended version of the app for free to everyone.”
It’s very likely that Deviant Solutions is sincere about the mistake, and here’s hoping that the finished version of Virus Shield does all that it claims. But the incident certainly reinforces the notion of ‘buyer beware’ when it comes to paid mobile apps.