Or as I call it:
CLICKBAIT: THE APP THAT’S SO DANGEROUS, GOOGLE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO HAVE IT
First, let me present the app and how it works.
Later, a rant about Google Play
1. Health Warning!
This application uses flashing lights in an attempt to confuse and disorient flying insects.
If you are prone to seizures or have epilepsy, do not use this application.
On your Android Phone, go to the following location:
Once you download the APK file, go to your downloads folder, and click on it. You may be prompted to install applications from locations that aren’t marked safe. You can enable this option, install the APK file, then disable it.
Sorry, there is no iPhone or Windows Mobile version at this time.
If there is enough interest, I could crank out a Win32 version fairly quickly, that would run on any laptop or tablet.
Flying insects can apparently see some colors more visibly than others.
Notably, they apparently can’t see red very well, but they CAN see ultraviolet quite visibly, and are attracted to ultraviolet.
Current research is being done, using UV lasers to create a “mosquito barrier”, because apparently, mosquitoes become confused when confronted with UV laser light.
Similarly, this app attempts to confuse and repel flying insects by using two rapidly and randomly flashing simulated UV panels on top of a red, continuous and static background color:
- Uses a static background for ambient light. By default, the background color is set to red, as red is supposedly less-visible to mosquitoes.
- Uses a random flashing cycle, which is intended to disorient.
- Uses two panels, each of which flash randomly, in an attempt to create the illusion of motion, and also confuse depth perception.
Please note that this is an EXPERIMENT, and your mileage will vary greatly, depending on type of insect, region, weather, time of day, ambient light, and probably dozens of other factors.
For example, I’ve noticed that this app works VERY well to repel flies, but also seems to do a decent job repelling some portion of mosquitoes as well, and I live in the Dallas, Texas area.
Please feel free to download and try the app. Use different settings — for example, I can tell you from experience that setting the background color to ‘Green’ (00FF00) or ‘Cyan’ (00FFFF) is a bad idea, as this attracts them. Please let me know what seems to work best for you, or if the app seems to work at all.
5. Scientific Approach
I run this app often, to try to collect as much data as possible.
Before dusk, I use it to repel flies, and at / after dusk, I use it to repel mosquitoes.
In an attempt to be scientific, I randomly pick whether to run the app or not.
In each case, I make a note of how many times I am “annoyed” by a fly or mosquito.
So far, my personal experience, in my specific situation is that this app seems to work REALLY WELL against flies, and SOMEWHAT WELL against mosquitoes.
Beyond being a simple annoyance, mosquitoes are filthy with dangerous and deadly diseases, some of which are active Texas:
- West Nile virus
- Zika virus
- At one point, mosquitoes were linked to SARS
In other parts of the world, mosquitoes carry Malaria and Yellow Fever, responsible for about 200 million infections per year, resulting in approximately 400,000 deaths per year.
If I can give you, FOR FREE, a simple phone application that might defer some of that risk, then why not?
7. Rant About Google Play
I attempted to publish this application through Google Play – I have written and published a couple of other applications that are out there already.
I PAY $35 every 2 years to publish applications on the Google Play store. This is NOT A FREE service.
When I attempted to publish this application, it immediately got rejected with no explanation.
After some digging, I found out that it was rejected “because the application was deceptive”.
Deceptive, as in….?
Let me recap: I’m NOT ASKING for money, I CLEARLY CALL OUT possible health warnings within the application, and I CLEARLY state that “your results may vary”.
As a matter of fact, you have to click YES to accept the warning EACH AND EVERY TIME YOU RUN THE APP.
So….. HOW am I being deceptive?
As it turns out, “the Google gods” (because I never actually got to speak to a policy maker) deemed that my “claims” to repel flying insects was “beyond the device’s capabilities”.
Really? HOW THE FUCK DOES GOOGLE DETERMINE THIS? (Excuse my language – I try to keep this site rated “G”)
In order to publish the app under Google’s terms, I would have to call it a “prank” or “joke”.
I dug and dug, but Google would not reply to my request, regarding how that determination was made. I mean, people figure out new and clever hacks for EVERYTHING, EVERY DAY. Does Google just somehow mind-meld with the entire internet to determine that, yes, in fact, my claims about my application are false? Even if that’s the case, SOMETHING NEW GETS INVENTED EVERY DAY.
So without explanation, Google has unilaterally decided that a phone running Android can’t possibly do what I claim to do within my app.
OK, so what if I wrote a radiation detector application?
NOT POSSIBLE, RIGHT???
WRONG. Radiation will trigger spurious flashes of light within the CCD sensor used by the camera. I could, in theory, count anomalous pixel values over a period of time, to give some idea about the level of background radiation – THIS IS SCIENCE AND IT WORKS, NOT science fiction.
Google would immediately ban my app because I am making a claim that’s “beyond the device’s capability”.
So basically, ANYTHING NEW and ANYTHING DIFFERENT are AUTOMATICALLY BANNED, right??
From the ivory tower, Google simply deems what is and is not “Google-ish” enough to pass muster, without any scientific or unbiased consideration.
Even through multiple appeals, all I got was a qausi-automated response – to be honest, I’m not sure I ever communicated with human being. I asked for an escalation, TWICE, and never got one. They just closed the case and moved on.
Further, they put a “STRIKE” against my Google Play account!
LET ME RECAP: I PAY FOR THIS. THIS IS NOT FUCKING YOUTUBE, WHERE A BUNCH OF IDIOTS COPY OTHER PEOPLES’ SHIT ALL DAY. (Sorry for the swearing) I DID NOT ASK FOR MONEY, NOR DID I MAKE ANY CLAIM THAT WASN’T TRUE.
I demanded that this so-called “Strike” be removed immediately, to which I got no response.
SO HERE IT IS:
THE APP THAT’S SO FUCKING DANGEROUS THAT GOOGLE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO HAVE IT!!
Yes, it’s click bait, but FUCK GOOGLE. (Sorry for swearing)
In summary, here are my complaints with Google Play, and how this situation was handled:
- This is the problem with automated filtering, and current-gen AI in general – when it works, it’s great, but when it goes sideways, or someone orders “off the menu”, you get stuck in some kind of customer service purgatory.
- There was ZERO constructive feedback, other than “Go review the application guidelines…”. I AM NOT a full-time developer, and I don’t have unlimited time and resources to “just go figure it out”. Where is the advocacy? Where was the constructive feedback? I even specifically asked, “hey what if I put ‘EXPERIMENTAL’ in the app title?”, NO RESPONSE. This lack of advocacy is unacceptable. This leaves me on my own to “interpret the commandments from the ivory tower of Google”, to go come up with some solution to a problem that shouldn’t exist. WHICH IS WHY I SELF-PUBLISHED.
- There is ZERO access to a human being for escalation or arbitration. You appeal…. DENIED! Close case, done. “Hey, can I explain it?” NOPE. Can I get some help? NOPE.
- There is no published list of use-cases that are within the device’s capabilities. If you’re going to deny it, you MUST have some kind of use-case index, but I AS A DEVELOPER have no access to such an index. I WANT TO SEE AN ENUMERATED LIST OF ALL ALLOWED USE-CASES.
- I PAY FOR THIS. This is not a free service such as YouTube, where anyone can upload content. I HAVE A STRIKE AGAINST ME, BUT I PAY FOR THIS. AND THERE IS NO WAY TO REMOVE THE STRIKE. The last time I checked, this constitutes FRAUD. Google can basically stop providing A SERVICE I PAID FOR, at ANY TIME, for ANY REASON, without ANY RECOURSE. So I should basically cower in fear of the Google Gods, whom I have obviously offended, or maybe just go burn $35 in the middle of my fireplace.
- PUTTING A STRIKE AGAINST ME EQUATES TO LIBEL. There is no way to undo it, there is no way to work against it, BUT IT’S MY GOOD NAME on the line, as a technologist and amateur app developer. Google can simply SHUT ME DOWN, and because my name is my ID, my YouTube channel and everything else is similarly threatened.
So here I am…. A rebel. A Google criminal. I now have a “Google rap sheet”. Simply for trying to publish an experimental application.
For the gentle reader’s reference, here is the last e-mail to Google, from which I received no response: