App stores like Google Play have two different types of customers, each with its own needs. Smartphone users care most about stores finding malicious apps and keeping their devices safe, while developers want their software to be seen and their intellectual property to be safe.
But when one app starts using another app’s services in a way that isn’t allowed, there will almost always be trouble, as we saw earlier this year when YouTube Vanced was shut down. This week, we learned about the latest app to get into that kind of trouble. The Google Play Store removed an app that offered a customizable, ad-free, suggestion-free feed alternative to Instagram.
This unofficial Instagram client, which goes by the name “The OG App,” was released at the end of September to assist users in reliving the glory days of using Instagram before it became overrun by attention-seeking algorithms, Reels, NFTs, and obnoxious advertisements.
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App developers Ansh Nanda and Hardik Patil, working under the Un1feed label, deconstructed Instagram’s application programming interface (API) to implement an experience that is both nostalgic and personalized. Users could select which feeds to follow, configure their settings, the delay provides refresh for up to 24 hours, and disable read receipts for direct messages.
However, as TechCrunch explains, the undertaking risked putting user information in jeopardy by employing workarounds that allowed users to circumvent the service’s restrictions on access. A few Twitter users have claimed that Instagram warned them about unauthorized login attempts after they gave their credentials to The OG App in good faith.
The developers tried to explain the warnings by claiming that it was a consequence of how they dealt with two-factor authentication (2FA), but plenty of people appear to be rightfully concerned at how this was being handled.
The most significant backlash, though, didn’t begin until late last month when Apple removed the software from the App Store. According to reports, Meta is also pursuing legal action against the developers for violating its established policies. In the notice it sent to the developers explaining why it removed The OG App, Apple stated that the app’s violation of Instagram’s terms of service meant it violated guidelines governing the App Store.
As a result of Google now following in Apple’s footsteps, the developers tweeted that they will not be able to continue providing service to consumers for the time being. The application can still be sideloaded onto Android phones. Still, we do not recommend doing so since we do not believe the benefits are worth the danger to your privacy and safety.
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