FrostWire has become a well-known file-sharing brand over the past decade.
The application was first released in 2004 as a LimeWire fork, but underwent several changes over the years. Today it’s mostly a BitTorrent client, but it also offers the option to access content from YouTube.
FrostWire is available on all major operating systems and does particularly well on Android where it has 2.9m active installs. Yesterday, however, the popular app was rendered unavailable.
FrostWire developer Angel Leon informs TF that Google pulled the application citing a violation of the Developer Distribution Agreement. Unlike the recent ban by Amazon, the removal has nothing to do with torrents but was triggered by FrostWire’s YouTube integration.
“After a regular review, we have determined that your app downloads, monetizes, or otherwise accesses YouTube videos in violation of the YouTube Terms of Service or YouTube API Terms of Service,” Google informed FrostWire while cautioning over the possibility of a permanent disconnection.
“All removals are tracked. Repeated removals will result in app suspension, at which point this app will count as a strike against the good standing of your developer account and no longer be available on Google Play.
After the first warning last Friday FrostWire submitted a YouTube-less app to get it re-listed. This worked, as the app was put back in the store by Saturday, but yesterday it was removed again citing the “YouTube” violation.
To please these users the developers made a separate version with YouTube functionality that can be installed directly from the FrostWire site. However, installing an .apk file isn’t that straightforward as the default Chrome browser on Android can’t open them directly.
“We’re pretty pissed by how Google is acting all bully on app developers,” Leon tells us in response to the recent troubles. The app’s users are not happy either. Many were happy to have the YouTube integration and berated FrostWire for removing it.
“Our solution to pissed off users after Google forced us to remove YouTube integration from FrostWire, was to simply build another version of the app which didn’t disable the feature, and tell users to get the installer directly from our website,” Leon says.
The YouTube situation was explained in the FrostWire client and more than a million people saw the notification over the weekend.
Interestingly, Google doesn’t allow developers to promote apps outside the market so this notification had to go too.
Facing these and other restrictions, the FrostWire team is growing increasingly frustrated but without solid competition there’s not much they can do.
“Google is acting too much like a bully lately, they need to be put on the spot, and they deserve some serious competition in the mobile space,” Leon says.
At the time of writing FrostWire is still unavailable in the Play store. If everything goes well, however, the app should be reinstated in the near future.
Update April 9: The FrostWire app was reinstated.
“We appreciate the opportunity to review your appeal. Upon further review, we’ve accepted your appeal and have reinstated your app. You will need to log back into your Google Play Developer Console to re-publish the application so it is available again on Google Play.”