Google has removed 164 Android apps from the official Play Store after security researchers caught apps bombarding users with ads.
Out-of-context ads, or out-of-app ads, is a relatively new technical term that refers to mobile ads that appear in a pop-up window or in full screen, separately from the original application.
These types of ads have been banned from the Play Store since February 2020, when Google found that these ads made it impossible for users to identify the app they came from, opening a window on Android devices for silent spam.
However, while the initial ban on Out-of-context ads that removed 600 Android apps did not mean that developers stopped abusing this mechanism.
In June and October 2020, Google was forced to intervene again and ban a wave of 38 and 240 applications, respectively, that continued to abuse this mechanism.
Applications were discovered by White Ops. a security company that specializes in detecting fraud and advertising.
But this week, White Ops discovered another suite of applications that used Out-of-context ads, and they managed to stay online for more than two years.
Most of these 164 apps pretended to be other popular apps, copying both the functionality and the names of more established apps for quick downloads.
Overall, White Ops reported that the applications achieved their goal after being downloaded more than 10 million times before they were discovered.
You can see the list of applications in the White Ops report.
According to Google, the apps have been removed from the Google Play Store, but you should manually remove them from your phones.