Response to Google Play comments: Dian Guang

Being a professional software developer, however demanding our users are, we’ve always tried our very best to meet and exceed their expectations.

We’ve been acting this way ever since our inception in 2010.

However, some users just keep surprising you.


Recently we’ve been stunned by a user named Dian Guang on Google Play. He’s by far the most unreasonable user we’ve seen in 5+ years of MHC’s history.

On 16 May 2015, Dian Guang commented on Google Play Store that he lost his MHC license and he said we didn’t respond to his email enquiry. (the fact? for users who have contacted us for lost licenses, we’ve always replied with a valid license within hours if not minutes)

As soon as we saw his Google Play Store comment, we went searching our email system but as expected we couldn’t find anything. (Google Play comments don’t show the user email, so when a user just leaves a negative comment there, basically there’s no way we could find his email and there’s no way we could email him simply because there’s no contact point.)

So we replied on the Google Play comment section, with a 350 characters limit, and told him that we didn’t see any email from his name and asked him to email us.

Then he emailed us:

From: dulongxxxx@gmail.com
Sent: Sat 5/16/15 2:35 PM
To: support@mobilehiddencamera.com

This is my 2nd attempt, the reason I am writing this message again regarding licensing issue is because I was told by someone on “Google Play” who claimed to be a staff that this issue can be resolved by sending you an email. The issue is: I purchased pro version and stopped working ever since I switch to a new phone. Thanks.

Then, we searched our email again and we confirmed that this was actually his first enquiry about a lost license. Never mind, even if he thought it’s his 2nd attempt, so be it.

Apparently, he previously made an in-app purchase of MHC license; and because Google removed MHC from Play Store and we re-listed MHC as a new app, he lost his purchased license.

So, as always, we quickly generated a new license key and helped him converted his Google in-app purchased license to our direct license. We sent him a license key and replied his email within 2 hours.

From: pitt.aimar@mobilehiddencamera.com
Sent: Sat 5/16/15 4:32 PM
To: dulongxxxx@gmail.com

Hi there,

As Google has recently taken MHC off the shelf; even now we’ve re-pubilshed it on Google Play, Google treats it as a new app now; so effectively Google has also taken away your in-app purchases. (this can happen to any paid apps as well, once Google takes down the app, you’ll lose all your paid apps & in-app purchases)

But don’t worry; over these years we’ve already built a infrastructure that could help you re-gain your license. And we proudly tell you we’re the only developer who do this to help customers re-gain their lost licenses. For other apps, you’d have lost your purchases already.

We’ve generated a license key for you. Please install the latest version of MHC from our website’s downloads section and you can easily activate your purchased features right away.

Now, if you open MHC’s settings / upgrade now page, do you see “activate with license key”?

If you do NOT see “activate with license key” but you see “retrieve license”, that means you have the WRONG version of MHC. You should install MHC’s license key version from our website’s downloads section instead. (http://www.mobilehiddencamera.com/downloads)

Once installed, you’ll see “activate with license key” page, it lets you input your email address and your license key there.

(if you don’t have the license key email in your email inbox, be sure to check your junk mail folder; it must have got stuck there!)

After that, hit back in MHC until you get back to your phone’s home screen, then just re-launch MHC and it’ll get upgraded automatically. You can go to MHC’s settings page, scroll down to the bottom and it tells you the correct edition there.

(If, after restarting MHC, it still shows LITE edition, simply try activation again. A couple users have previously reported that activation didn’t work the 1st time but it always works the 2nd time. We’ll definitely resolve this issue with our next update)

Regards,
Pitt

PS. while you said this is your 2nd attempt to contact us, we’ve searched through our email but we do not find any previous email from you concerning this licensing issue.

Anyway, now that we got your email, and we can already help just within a couple hours. We’re professional software developers and we do provide professional services for our customers. We hope you’d appreciate this; and we hope you’d kindly update your Google Play Store comment as well. (we always respond to customer enquiries fast!)

PPS. to make it easier for you we’re also attaching the license key version’s APK file here, so you can simply click the attachment to install.

So, we thought we settled this; quick and tidy.

For all users who’ve been affected by Google’s removal of our app, we’ve always generated a new license for them and replied in a very timely and professional manner like this, and it’s always worked well.

All users who’ve contacted us previously have appreciated our efforts to grant them a new license so they could keep enjoying this great app.


Except this user.

The next day, we’re surprised when we saw this user updated his Google Play comment, saying that the issue’s not resolved. He said that he wouldn’t trust our APK file.

Apparently, he does NOT understand the way Android security works and he does NOT understand the “trust” relationship between the user, the app developer and Google Play.

So we thought we should send him another email and clarify things for him.

From: pitt.aimar@mobilehiddencamera.com
Sent: Sun 5/17/15 2:50 AM
To: dulongxxxx@gmail.com

Hi there,

We can’t believe you would still complain even after we’ve responded fast and generated a new license for you.

First of all, if you don’t trust a developer, you should NOT even install the app from Google PlayStore.

Apparently you do not fully understand the “trust” between you as the user, the app developer and Google Play Store. Let’s briefly explain this for you.

1. apps published on Google Play Store are NOT reviewed by Google; they can be good apps, or they can be malicious apps. (on the contrary, Apple screens apps before they’re published on Apple AppStore. But Android users like Android just because Android is “open”, and you’re free to choose your apps, not Google chooses them for you)

2. when you install an app from Google Play, it guarantees the software you install is the same package the developer uploads to Google Play Store. However, it does NOT guarantee the software is safe.

3. Android app security is controlled by the app’s defined “required permissions”.

e.g. for MHC, we list out all our permissions required on our app list page:
– take pictures and videos
– record audio
– modify or delete the contents of your USB storage (for file storage)
– full network access (to send support ticket)
– Google Play billing service (for optional upgrade)
– draw over other apps (for user interface)
– control vibration (for vibration feedback)
– prevent phone from sleeping (so your recording won’t end prematurely)
– modify system settings (to control airplane mode)

4. so if you install an app from Google Play Store, you’re just trusting that the app you’re installing is exactly the app that the developer uploaded to the playstore, i.e. it’s the official software package.

This is NOT to protect users from bad developers. (because Google does NOT review the app, they don’t even know if the app is good or bad)

The Google PlayStore only protects you from installing an “unofficial package” of an app. Instead, it’s the “rating system” that protects you from bad apps.

e.g. we release MHC on Google Play Store; then you should NOT download MHC from other websites. Because it’s possible that someone downloads MHC’s APK file, then inject some virus to it, and put it online somewhere for other users to download. Then if you download that “infected” copy of MHC, you get a problem.

However, what if you only download MHC’s APK file from the developer’s official website? The “trust level” is just exactly the same.

For example, if MHC is a malicious app, you shouldn’t install it from google playstore already. If you don’t trust a developer, don’t even install from google play. Google Play doesn’t protect you from that.

However, if you install an app from google play, that already means you trust that developer. And there’s really no difference of installing the app from our official google play page or from our official website. Because the app downloaded from our official website is the “official” copy. (but of course, do NOT download MHC’s apk file from anywhere other than our official website)

5. now as for why google removed our app;

first of all, google is famous of arbitrarily removing Android apps from the play store. And many users have lost their paid apps because of this. We’re the only developer who have built our own licensing infrastructure and so we’re able to re-create new licenses for our users so they wouldn’t lose their licenses.

and why could we do that? it’s because of our long history; we first released MHC in 2010 when Andriod Market (google play store’s name back then) didn’t even support paid apps. So at that time we built our own licensing infrastructure with the Paypal payment gateway. That’s why for all these years, even after Google introduced in-app billing on google playstore, we’ve kept releasing MHC’s Paypal license key version.

Also, since google supported paid apps, they require all developers to use Google wallet and they ban all developers who use Paypal. (We were also banned by them once before, just because we were still accepting Paypal in our app) That’s why now we need to maintain 2 versions of MHC. The Play Store version only supports Google in-app billing. And the website version supports Paypal payments.

here’re just a couple of other apps being removed by google.

http://androidforums.com/threads/google-removed-an-app-i-paid-license-for.876772/
– google removed the app, user tried to contact app developer and got no response

http://techdissected.com/google/google-play-accounts-being-banned-for-no-reason/
– google removes apps for no reason

by the way, google never explains why they suspended an app; but for what we saw, we can understand that Google wouldn’t allow spy camera apps, and especially MHC has been the most successfully spy camera app and we’ve always been listed on top 10 of the camera charts. This embarrasses Google and so they needed to remove our app.

Hope this clarifies things for you.

Regards,
Pitt

Having explained from Android’s security framework to the whole situation we thought we’ve been acting professionally. And while we already sensed how unreasonable this user is, we’ve been trying our best to keep clam and didn’t want to be rude.

However it only led to another surprising Google Play comment:

Dian Guang on May 17, 2015 at 12:01 PM

Harassment Premium version has been removed from Google Play. After I calmly described the situation, instead of trying to deal with Google, they started to send me harassment emails in a rude and unprofessional manner, I filtered their email and reported to Google. According to Google, further legal actions might be needed from my side.
You replied on May 17, 2015 at 9:40 AM

We just can’t believe it.

1. When Google removed our app, he complained.
2. When we generated a license for him and resolved the whole issue, he kept complaining.
3. When we reached out to explain things to him, he complained further and said it’s “harassment”.

This is simply ridiculous.

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