Alcatel has unexpectedly started serving ads on its own Android devices using apps that come pre-installed on its very own phones and which were recently updated on the Google Play Store.

As weird as that might sound for a company the size of Alcatel, it looks like several of its apps are now pushing the annoying advertisements, including even the launcher and the gallery.

The latter, however, suffered a series of silent modifications that certainly raise questions as to how Alcatel handled this whole adware saga.

First and foremost, as Android Police spotted, the Gallery app has been renamed to Candy Gallery on the Google Play store, and it was updated automatically on all Alcatel’s devices running Android. The new app serves ads, and users have basically no way to prevent this behavior if the update was completed.

What’s really odd is that the previous update for the Gallery app was released in July 2017, and the new version published on January 27 this year appears to be specifically meant to introduce the adware. Even more awkward is that the app which previously required file access now prompts users to grant permission for reading device ID info, SMS, Wi-Fi connection, and more.

Google Play Store ratings collapsing

Without an official statement from Alcatel, the cited source speculates that the company could have sold the app or the app listing, though there’s also a slight chance the app key was stolen and used to push ads on users’ devices. This, however, is very unlikely given that Alcatel would have removed the listings quickly after learning of the breach.

In the meantime, however, Google Play Store ratings perfectly reflect the unexpected behavior that Alcatel has implemented into its apps.

The new Candy Gallery app, for example, has a current score of 3.6 stars, with no less than 2,200 one-star ratings, most of them submitted following the update a few days ago. The majority of reviewers also blast the company for “bombarding” them with ads.

“Absolutely worst! I paid for my phone and I can’t even uninstall this and being bombarded with ads!” one user says.

At this point, everyone’s waiting for Alcatel to at least tell user what’s happening, though judging from this approach, such a clarification might never be provided.