Just yesterday, Google announced that it is banning all apps that contain any form of lock screen ads. Today, they posted a list of the Best Apps of 2017 for the Play Store. Given the new policy of cracking down on apps with advertisements on the lock screen, you wouldn't expect to see one of those in the list of top apps. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened — Google is promoting obvious adware in their list of best apps.
The app in question is called Photo Editor - Beauty Camera & Photo Filters, from a developer named Pic Tools Group. The link to the app is omitted on purpose. Unlike Google, we don't believe in serving adware to our readers.
Several users over on Reddit noticed that the app asks for an exorbitant number of permissions when installing, many of which seem unnecessary. We were concerned when we noticed this, so we took a closer look. The apps ask for Identity, Device & App History, and Device ID & Call History — none of which seem necessary for this type of application. In addition to the long list of permissions, it also runs in the foreground on your phone.
All of these ridiculous permissions would be bad enough, but we dug deeper and found even more appalling content inside the app. The app contains an insane number of settings that have absolutely nothing to do with photo editing. Possible options include "Smart Charge," "Swipe," "Super Keyboard," and "Weather Tips." The "Smart Charge" setting strangely enables lock screen ads to run on your phone, cleverly disguised indeed. The "Swipe" setting also enables ads, this time as a widget on your home screen setup.
This app is certainly not one I'd want running on my phone, and Google should not be promoting it as one of the best apps of 2017. It seems awfully hypocritical to ban apps with similar content, then promote this mess of an app a day later. This app is definitely adware, and maybe even spyware or malware. Let us know what you think in the comments below!