In July 2019, the Google Adsense team had announced the complete shutdown of its Android and iOS application to focus entirely on a browser-based experience. Back then, the announcement came quite as a surprise, as 1/3 of Adsense users had downloaded and used the app on their mobile phones.
The Adsense team explained back then that it was making this move to focus solely on a browser-based progressive web app (those web pages that feel and act like mobile apps). The reasoning was that newly-released features would be implemented faster if the product was not fragmented into several versions. This approach seemed a bit odd, as sister Google products are delivered through mobile apps (Google Ads, Google Analytics) and perfectly fulfill the needs of its users.
It actually took 9 months for the Adsense team to completely unhook its mobile apps, the switch off happened in April 2020. While it disappeared from Android and iOS’ app stores, the pre-2020 version were still operational on the phones of those who already had the app on their phones. The Adsense apps kept running though for another full year, up until August 2021, users started to share the fact that their Adsense app had stopped displaying data. Adsense’s users last resort became to bookmark the Adsense web link on their mobile homepage to create a one-click access to Adsense.
This decision underlines a few inconsistencies :
- Google’s product managers should not deny the benefits of Google Android’s app system, otherwise it creates a division within Google’s unity. In other words, the Adsense team is making the statement that Android apps just don’t cut it for them, a form of “bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you” attitude.
- For users, we lose a whole set of features that only installed apps can provide : notifications, offline access, widgets.
- Web-browsers are more easily compromised by malicious cookies and third-party extensions, while mobile apps are more hermetic.
As a reminder, Google Adsense first launched a mobile-friendly version of its website in March 2011. The official Google Adsense application was launched on Android in July 2013. In September 2015, the Adsense mobile team released a new version of the app with added features. No major amelioration followed, until 2019 when the team announced the depletion and subsequent removal of the app.