Thank you for your help. We have been approved to resubmit by the google play store! It took several appeal attempts, so for those of you that get rejected on your first appeal, do not lose hope. Here is the specific appeal thread that worked for me, so you all can follow it and hopefully find success in your appeal on the first try…
Unfortunately I don’t have access to the very first appeal I sent through the play store. Suffice to say I let the Play Store know about the issue with expo and that I resolved it, and that my app no longer uses the Branch IO SDK. They responded with a typical rejection template, including this message to help identify the issue:
"During review, we found that your app is using an SDK(BranchIO SDK) or library that facilitates the collection and transmission of installed packages information without meeting the prominent disclosure guidelines. "
I responded to their team, using specific wording recommended by @jess:
The Branch module was bundled in with my apk as part of the Expo build process but unused, and I have since re-built my release to exclude the Branch module since I don’t want or need to use it. Can you confirm that it is specifically the latest version of the application that is causing the rejection? If a previous version is causing the rejection, can you help me remove all references to the previous version, as I no longer want to expose that version to our users.
To elaborate on why I believe that Branch IO do not exist on version , I downloaded the apk for the latest version of our app as well as a previous version and looked for the BranchIO SDK. I also grepped (case insensitive) for branch within those files:
$ ls -la
drwxr-xr-x 6 jacksonkontny staff 192 May 17 11:03 .
drwx *------+ 15 jacksonkontny staff 480 May 17 11:03 ..*
-rw-r *--r-- 1 jacksonkontny staff 16M May 17 11:00 30-1.apk*
-rw-r *--r-- 1 jacksonkontny staff 16M May 17 11:00 30.apk*
-rw-r *--r-- 1 jacksonkontny staff 16M May 17 11:00 31-1.apk*
-rw-r *--r-- 1 jacksonkontny staff 16M May 17 11:00 31.apk*
$ grep -ri branch . */**
*Binary file ./30-1.apk matches*
*Binary file ./30.apk matches*
You can see above that branch exists in the old version, but not the new version. Specifically the old version has a reference to:
Whether or not I just got lucky or this email has the magic combination of key words to get past the play store gate keepers is hard to say, but if you’re getting rejected by the Play Store, responding to their rejection with a message like this is worth a shot.