UPDATED: Google removes 60K apps ahead of Google Play refresh

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play app deletions reached a record-high of 60,000 in February, indicating Google is escalating efforts to clean up the storefront in tandem with a redesigned shopping experience on Android devices.

TechCrunch, which learned of the Play inventory deletions from "a company in the mobile app industry, which has insight into changes like this," reports that many of the Android apps ousted in February fall into the MP3/ringtone category, a segment notorious for copyright violations and quality control issues. However, a number of other deletions were spam apps in violation of Google Play's Terms of Services. These deletions include apps that carry product descriptions that are "misleading or loaded with keywords in an attempt to manipulate ranking or relevancy in the store's search results," apps "created by an automated tool or wizard service" and apps that "post repetitive content."

Not all of the apps were removed by Google; some, like the now-defunct Color video sharing app, were most likely deleted by the publishers themselves.

Google Play does not scan Android apps until they have gone live. Google declined to comment on the cleanup effort, but TechCrunch notes the company has been steadily improving its automated scanning controls to more accurately identify apps in violation of its rules.

On Tuesday, Google announced a new-look Play emphasizing larger images and groupings of similarly-themed content designed to make it easier for users to find the apps and entertainment they're looking for. "As you move down the page, new recommendations continue to appear so there is always more to see and explore," states Google Play Group Product Manager Michael Siliski. "We've also simplified purchasing so you can breeze through checkout and get to enjoying your movie rental or other content."

The redesigned Google Play store app is rolling out now for Android phones and tablets running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and above. Rumors of the revamp first began circulating last month after Droid Life posted leaked screenshots of the new UI.

Google Play (formerly Android Market) launched in October 2008 and now boasts more than 700,000 Android apps, keeping pace with archrival Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store. The storefront received its last significant overhaul two years ago.

For more:
- read this TechCrunch article
- read this Android Official Blog post

Related articles:
Report: Google Play user interface overhaul coming soon
Google Play update brings Google+ sign-in, expanded app install options
Google Play integrates app reviews with users' Google+ profiles
Android app install links added to Google+ social network timelines
Google Play update brings expanded Android user controls
Google Play launches free trial option for in-app subscriptions

Article updated April 9 with information from Google about the Google Play store redesign.

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