Google Play

Google has sent out an e-mail about updates to their Google Play developer policies, and it's clear that they are trying to reign in some questionable behavior that goes on in our beloved app store. There's some standard stuff to go along with new features, like guidelines and cancelation policies for the new subscription billing service, but the bulk of the new changes are user facing and designed to make our experience better all around. Here's a quick bullet point of the major changes:

  • Restricting the use of names or icons confusingly similar to existing system apps in order to reduce user confusion
  • Providing more detail on the kinds of dangerous products that are not allowed on Google Play. For example, apps that disclose personal information without authorization are not allowed.
  • Giving more examples of practices that violate the spam policy.
  • Adding a new section that addresses ad behavior in apps. 

The first couple of points are easy enough to understand, and Google is stepping in to keep folks from being tricked by unscrupulous developers. With over 600,000 applications in Google Play, there are bound to be a few who just want your eyeballs on ads and will do anything to make that happen. A lot of these apps also will try to work around the rules and just want your address book or web history. It stinks, but just like the rest of the world some folks take the low road to make a buck. With these new policies in place, Google can show them the door if they get crafty and don't play fair.

The third point is downright awesome. Have a look at the complete policy here, and see how Google makes it plain about what is and isn't allowed in their store, and just what they consider as spam. This is how we like to see things explained -- in clear, concise language with no weaseling around. In their house, you play by their rules, and now you know them.

Finally, they are getting a grip on ad SDKs and networks that practice in shady behavior. With words like deceiving consumers and disruptive behavior, Google has lain the smack down and let these companies -- and the developers who use them -- know that the days of the wild west are numbered. A clear set of rules on how ads can behave has been a long time coming.

Google is still wide open. With the tick of a checkbox users are free to install any application they please, and we wouldn't want it any other way. We also want a consistent, and dare we say better, experience from Google's own store. We're tired of fake Temple Run games and apps that seem to exist only to harvest marketing data. As savvy users we tend to quickly ferret out these kind of apps and give them the boot, but now it looks like Google is prepared to step in and help those who may not be Android enthusiasts. With the apparent push of the Google Play brand, we say the timing is perfect.

Check out the full text of the e-mail after the break.

Hello Google Play Developer,

We are constantly striving to make Google Play a great community for developers and consumers. This requires us to update our policies when we launch new features, like subscription billing, and also when we see unhealthy behavior, like deceptive app names and spammy notifications. This email is to notify you that we’ve made some changes to our policies which are highlighted below.

- We’ve added clearer details to the payment policy, and guidelines on how we will handle cancellations in our new subscription billing feature

- We are restricting the use of names or icons confusingly similar to existing system apps in order to reduce user confusion

- We are providing more detail on the kinds of dangerous products that are not allowed on Google Play. For example, apps that disclose personal information without authorization are not allowed.

- We are giving more examples of practices that violate the spam policy.

Additionally, we are adding a new section that addresses ad behavior in apps. First, we make it clear that ads in your app must follow the same rules as the app itself. Also, it is important to us that ads don’t negatively affect the experience by deceiving consumers or using disruptive behavior such as obstructing access to apps and interfering with other ads.

Please take a look at the Google Play Developer Program Policy at http://play.google.com/about/developer-content-policy.html to see all the changes and make sure your app complies with our updated policies.

Any new apps or app updates published after this notification will be immediately subject to the latest version of the Program Policy.  If you find any existing apps in your catalog that don’t comply, we ask you to fix and republish the application within 30 calendar days of receiving this email.  After this period, existing applications discovered to be in violation may be subject to warning or removal from Google Play.

Regards,
Google Play Team

 

Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043