Strange as it may seem to you, Google has the ability to install applications remotely on your phone, without your explicit permission or even without any notice.
On June 19, 2021, a very instructive event happened for the capabilities of Google. According to user reports, the application of exposure alerts to Covid-19, MassNotify was automatically installed on many Android smartphones, in the United States of America, and specifically in the state of Massachusetts.
The strange thing was that the installation was done without any notice and that the application did not even have an icon to inform users that it is installed. The complaint was made on the 9to5Google news site and the company justified that the automatic installation of the application although it was intentional, the application itself would do nothing unless the user chose to activate it.
This is particularly strange because no other US state COVID-19 exposure application works this way. All other applications are installed when the user chooses to install them manually.
Can Google install an application without your permission?
The bottom line is that Google has the ability to install whatever it wants on your phone in a way that you will not understand.
Although we do not know if there is a similar incident in Greece and if Google has ever silently installed an application on Android phones, you can also remotely install an application on your Android phone.
All you have to do is go to the Google Play Store website through a computer, log in to the same account you are connecting to on your Android phone, and once you find an application you are interested in, click the "Install" button. The Play Store will forward the command to your phone and when it hits the internet it will start downloading and installing the app of your choice.
Of course, unlike the history of MassNotify, the whole process is not hidden, as you will see a notification when installing the application.
Can Apple install an application without your permission?
No corresponding behavior of Apple and iPhone phones has been reported. But it is certain that Apple also has this capability.
Also, iPhones work a little differently than Android. To install an iPhone app, you need to go to the App Store with an iPhone and install the app. You can not do this through a browser like you can on Android. You need the presence of your phone. So it is not possible to do a remote installation directly on your phone.
What about updates?
Of course, operating system updates can install new applications on your device. You can install a new version of iOS for iPhone or Android and suddenly find a new application. However, these are always applications of the company itself and are never third party.
Does the behavior of companies change from country to country?
You may be surprised but companies install different programs depending on the country you are in. Or rather the country you have stated you are in. The company, depending on the agreements it has made in each country, but also the legislation of each country, takes care of what you can see and what applications you will have on your mobile phone.
A great example is when in February 2018, the issues in MIUI for the 28 countries of the European Union disappeared. Although the company did not provide a satisfactory explanation for this, it relied on European privacy legislation and the GDPR. At that time you only had to state on your mobile phone that you live in Albania, for example, and the application themes were filled with material that you could download and install.
Similarly, now if you say on your mobile phone that you live in India, for example, (on Xiaomi with MIUI 12, go to Settings> Additional Settings> Region and enter India there) you will see that not one, not two, but three new applications in the last position. Mi-Picks, Mi-Play, and Mi-Credit. Calories!
The funny thing is that not only will it install new apps but it will notify you that there are new updates to your old apps and ask you to update. Today 24/6/2021 in ours with the fact that we declared that the country we live in is India, he told us that there are updates for System, Wallpapers, and Mi-Play !! When we told him again that we are Greece, all the updates disappeared and he informed us that all our applications are updated with the latest version! It deleted all three new applications.
Can companies delete applications remotely?
Both Google and Apple can delete remote applications from your phone if they wish. This feature was created to protect the devices from malware. If a malicious application enters Google Play or the Apple App Store and has been downloaded by millions of users, both companies can delete the application remotely.
It seems that your phone does not belong to you 100%. Probably by buying it, you have "married" the respective company together with its whims. However, instead of asking if a company can remotely install applications on our devices, we should ask if the company we are married to has such a history.
Both Google and Microsoft have installed remote applications on the phones they released at the time without the user's consent. Historically Apple once added a U2 album in the iTunes libraries of all users (regardless of whether one only listens to tsamika).