Limited Access To Important App Features
NordVPN was one of the first VPN services to offer Windows 10 dedicated apps for both Android and iOS with their Windows 10 Launch partner Bitlocker. These apps were initially released back in April 2018 and have been updated a few times since then. These apps give you access to all the important features of the service without having to use the web browser. This way, you can remain protected even when using other apps on your phone or tablet.
Sadly, these apps are now broken. If you load them on your device, you’ll see the following screen. We have reached out to BitLocker and NordVPN for a comment, but they haven’t replied at the time of this writing. Hopefully, they’ll get back to us soon and let us know what’s going on. For now, this is what we know.
Blocked Resource-Hogging Apps
Back in June 2018, Google began labeling certain apps as resource hogs and will start charging developers for using too many resources on Google Play. Since then, we’ve seen a ton of apps get blocked on various platforms for being too resource intensive. Many of these are legitimate security and privacy focused apps, but the issue is that they use a lot of resources to do their thing. When an app is blocked on your device, you won’t know why. It could be due to excessive resource use or it could be a false positive from Google’s automated systems. No matter what the reason is, you won’t be able to use the app.
Apps Get Confusing On The Permissions Screen
Remember when we were all on the verge of panic after Google played a little prank on us back in April? The company began rolling out a major update to the Play Store. The update was supposed to make Google Play more efficient by asking users to grant it more permissions. One of the effects was that it made permissions more confusing. Instead of just showing you all the permissions at once, the app will prompt you to grant the app access to various features on your phone. If you don’t notice this until much later, you’ll probably end up granting access to a lot of apps you didn’t mean to.
Unfortunately, there’s also a darker side to all of this. Since Google Play began cracking down on certain apps, there’s been a rash of malware-ridden downloads on the platform. If you’re using an unofficial app repository or a shady forum to download apps, you could be opening yourself up to a world of malware. Just remember that if you have a malicious app on your device, you could be in danger of getting infected with viruses, ransomware, etc.
As you may have guessed, all of this is hurting the VPN industry. Without the ability to use their apps, people aren’t going to want to spend money on VPN services. It’s also going to be harder for developers to justify the costs of creating a native app for a VPN when they have to split it with Google Play. This is a double-edged sword, and it’s one that the VPN industry has to get used to living with.
Increased Traffic On The Network
Another issue that the VPN industry has to get used to is increased traffic on their network. Due to increased security measures implemented by Google and Apple, all apps that use VPN services to communicate with the outside world are going to see their connection speed slowed down. This especially affects gamers and people who stream videos to YouTube or other platforms. For streaming, the ideal VPN experience is to be able to connect quickly and easily, without having to think about your data plan or usage. When your connection is slow, it often leads to buffering and dropped connections, which kills the flow of the experience.
We’re not just talking about VPNs here. As more and more apps are getting blocked on all our devices, it’s creating a bit of an ecosystem issue. While we wait for developers to figure out the problem, it’s going to be a while before we can use certain apps again. As much as we’d like to see Google Play become a safe haven for apps, it’s not going to happen overnight. For now, it’s a race against time for VPN services as they try to figure out how to make their app work again. When the dust settles and we can use our apps legally, we’ll have to find a new way to stay secure while using the apps and services we love.