Google Play Store is testing adware apps in History Search

Advertising in app stores is the normbut Google is now testing Surface apps directly in Play Store search.

For now, tapping the search bar brings up the keyboard and displays your four most recent queries.

On a device today (running Play Store version 33.0.17-21), clicking the field brings up three apps that I have never searched for or interacted with. They are all games, with their icons: Summoners War: Chronicles, Call of Duty Mobile Season 10 and Fishdom Solitaire.

Search history only appears after typing a letter with past queries appearing first, followed by autocomplete suggestions.

We cannot be sure if these nominations have paid to appear or if they are suggestions. A quick look at the Games tab shows none in the ad-supported “Suggested for you” carousel, but COD Season 10 is announced quite prominently in the stream.

Old vs new behavior after pressing search

The latest Google Play system update for November includes “[Phone] New formats for search results” and “New features to help you discover the apps and games you love”. This change could be related to that.

This change is a bit shocking and does not concern me personally. At the same time, repeat queries are probably less common among people who search and download the app in one session/interaction rather than having to return.

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