To elaborate further, as shared in our previous article, we received a notification about the presence of Vungle SDK in our apps. As soon as we received that notification, we took action by working with the third-party provider to remove this adware way back in July.
From: VAL-U-PRO CONSULTING GROUP, LLC - SRIKANTH KIDAMBI <srik.kid2012@gmail.
Date: Thu, Jun 25, 2020, 5:39 PM
Subject: Re: Notification from Google Play about iDiot Video Chat App
Email to the third-party source offering the API/template
May I know whether any app update is available for the Vungle issue?
Also, were you able to recover FuntasticPhotos app?
We have sent an email to the Google Play store team to find out more in this regard. As your organization is also a concerned party in this regard, I am forwarding the email sent to the Google Play store team. (Please see email below)
Please keep me posted on when the update would become available.
We are also putting out a media article to share this issue with the users of our apps. We believe that it is our ethical responsibility to inform those users upfront. We will share the same with your team when that article gets published.
Jun 29, 2020, 5:31 PM GMT+7
Once that was done, we uploaded the new apk or the app file to the play store on July 8th as version 2.2. Prior to this addition, we also verified the manifest file to see whether we could locate the Vungle SDK and it was not found. Presented below are evidences supporting the same. We came up with this quick way to identify and verify the presence and absence of different add-ons on apps.
For example, in the case of Vungle SDK on our iMessenger app, the left most image shows Vungle being found in the AndroidManifest file. This file corresponds to the version before the update and the one in the middle is the version post-update. In addition, we also utilized other tools out there to locate the Vungle SDK, and it was not found either. As a follow up to this issue, we are communicating back and forth with the Google Play Store team in this regard. To this point, the team keeps on suggesting to update the app, though not being clear on what evidential details that they have to support the presence of Vungle SDK.
1. June 24th: Received notification about the Vungle SDK issue from Google Play Store
2. June 25th: Communicated with the API/template provider
3. July first week: Third-party announced supposedly the Vungle SDK has been addressed
4. Right away, followed the instructions, but still noticed the adware, which we informed them.
5. When updated again later in the first week, I noticed that our app, iMessenger, was devoid of Vungle SDK.
6. End of the first week of July: the updated version was uploaded to the play store
Where are we now?
Recent email of ours to the Play Store team
Sat, Sep 5, 7:30 PM (22 hours ago)
What else on this front are we working on?
We have been researching on various ad based tools network as an ongoing project for some time now. We have successfully figured out ways to clean up the entire network on android apps, especially for ours. We are in the process of wrapping up this work and then, we should be able to offer the cleaned versions as well for the end-consumers to pick and choose.
In addition, we will also be launching various apps that we have built over time without reliance on third-party platforms, majority of which was done by our founder, Dr Srikanth Srinivasan Kidambi, on our AmazeBaba platform.