To be clear, that means Adblock Plus and its ilk are no longer available for Android users. So far nothing has changed in the Chrome Web Store, which still hosts plenty of ad-blocking add-ons for Google’s web browser.
The move shouldn’t be surprising given that ad-blocking software cuts into Google’s bottom line, though that’s not exactly why Google says the apps were removed. The company says that such apps violate the Play Store’s terms of service, specifically that they cause “interference with another service or product in an unauthorized manner.”
Naturally if you’ve already installed AdBlock Plus — or any other affected ad-blocking app — it will continue to work, though there will be no more updates. For that reason, Wladimir Palant, creator of AdBlock Plus, suggests users “install our next release from our website once it is out.”
Palant calls the move “surprising” and wonders if it suggests “a course change at Google.” It doesn’t seem particularly surprising to me, but Palant’s thoughts on all the “for rooted phones only” apps currently available in Play seem well-founded:
Until recently the main distinction between Android and iPhone was that Android allowed you to install any app as long as it wasn’t malicious (meaning that it’s obvious what the app does). Google Play still allows apps stating “for rooted phones only” but I wonder whether these are next on the list to be removed — each of them performs “unauthorized actions”.
What’s really surprising is that Google ever allowed these apps in the first place.