The holy grail of systemless root tools, Magisk Manager, was just recently removed from the Google Play store for violating Google’s store policies. Magisk Manager is well known amongst the Android enthusiast community for offering an easy solution for systemlessly rooting most Android devices, as well as methods of hiding itself from SafetyNet checks – thus allowing users to download SafetyNet-protected apps from Google Play store, like Netflix and Pokemon Go.

The reasons for being kicked off Google Play store were sent to developer “topjohnwu”, which he shared with supporters:

This is what I get from Google this morning:

Magisk Manager, com.topjohnwu.magisk, has been suspended and removed from Google Play as a policy strike because it violates the malicious behavior policy.

What is the so-called “malicious behavior”? From what I’ve suspect, viewing the definition of malicious behavior, most likely I violated the two following policies:

  • Apps that introduce or exploit security vulnerabilities.
  • Apps or SDKs that download executable code, such as dex files or native code, from a source other than Google Play.

For the first policy: Magisk bypasses Google’s strict compatibility check – the CTS check on tampered devices (SafetyNet checks CTS status). CTS is what Google judge whether a manufacturer can ship a device with its Google services, so Google is definitely really serious about this issue. Also, Magisk roots your device, patches tons of SELinux policies (all rooting method do) etc, which is also an obvious security breach. However, I doubt this was the main reason, since many superuser management apps are also on the Play Store.

The main reason should be the other one.

The second rule I listed can be translated to: you cannot have anything “market-like” to let users download and run code on your device. Apparently, Magisk’s Online Repo is a complete violation against this rule.

Contrary to topjohnwu’s statement, it’s a bit of a stretch of the imagination that Magisk was removed from Google Play store mainly for offering a repo directory, as it could be argued that the repo directory simply offers modules / plug-ins for Magisk, and is not an “app store”. It’s more that Google is dropping the hammer on apps that allow users to bypass SafetyNet and other “security breaches”. Ironic for a company that promotes open-source development for the Android platform.

The Future of Magisk Manager

Despite being removed from Google Play, topjohnwu has assured followers that Magisk is not abandoned, and will continue to thrive healthily on other app stores in this statement:

Now I have two choices: Remove the online repo from Magisk Manager, and re-release a NEW APP on the store (yes, once your app is pulled down, the package name and app name is permanently banned).

The other way is to simply just distribute the app through places like XDA and third-party markets (just like Xposed Installer).

I prefer the second decision, because I can still use the same package name, also I wouldn’t need to remove the online repo feature, which is one of the most precious thing for a development community like XDA. What I really lost is the $25 dollars for Play Store registration lol.

Development is definitely NOT suspended in any way, in fact, I had significant progress lately.
There are still some bugs not sorted out, and I need some feedback from the users, so I decide to start a new thread for public beta testing! Expect the new thread to be live very soon, but I still need to do some small adjustments to deal with the unfortunate Play Store situation….

So the conclusion is: Yes, Magisk Manager is pulled from Play Store due to policy violation; and no, this is not a sign for the end of development. In fact, I think Magisk is undergoing the most active development since release!

A planned public beta will be launching soon, and the upcoming Magisk v13 promises to be the largest release for Magisk since its inception. In fact, topjohnwu uploaded Magisk Manager to XDA’s own app store, XDA Labs, which already offers many great tools and apps from the XDA community. While Google Play store offered a convenient way of updating Magisk Manager, Magisk’s roots have always been on XDA forums, and that’s where it will be continued.