Google inexplicably pulls app that mimics Moto X’s Touchless Controls

One upside to being an Android user: If a feature comes out that isn’t available on your phone, somebody will likely write an app to rectify that. OpenMic+ was a good example. Essentially a voice command shortcut for Google Now, it mirrored the Touchless Control feature Motorola recently introduced in the Moto X. It worked (for the most part) but as of Friday, the app is no longer listed in the Google Play store.

An email to the developer behind the app, Ryan Senanayake, revealed that Google pulled the app without any expressed motive for doing so. Senanayake assumed that it was pulled for mimicking the Moto X’s Touchless Controls. “As Motorola is a Google-owned company, they have interest in keeping these types of apps out of the store,” he said in a phone call.

The app took Senanayake only two weeks to develop, since it borrowed much of its functionality from an application he previously released in the Google Play store, called Carma In-Car Voice-Controlled, an in-car voice controller application. “I already had Carma, so a lot of the work was already done. When I saw these ads coming out for the Moto X [I figured that] this was something I could easily do.”

Google’s Play Developer program policies expressively prohibit any products that “mimic functionality or warnings from the operating system or other applications.” The policies also state that developers shouldn’t “infringe on the intellectual property rights of others, (including patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, and other proprietary rights), or encourage or induce infringement of intellectual property rights.” Whether OpenMic+ fell under these criteria is a bit of a mystery, as Senanayake has yet to hear back from Google on why his application was pulled. We’ve also reached out to Google for clarification, but for now we can just assume that if you're hoping to yell at your phone form across the room, you’ll have to purchase a Moto X.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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