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Google Play Store Enhances Policy To Protect Users

Google is doing some house cleaning on its Play Store by introducing several new changes to its Google Play Developer Program Policy. The changes are meant to protect the consumers against the deceptive advertising practices as well as other shady activities of app developers. The developers themselves must also make sure right now that the ad networks or affiliates that they are using do not engage in these practices.

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Most of the changes in the Google Play Developer Program Policy are found in the App Promotion section which states.

Apps published on Google Play may not directly or indirectly engage in or benefit from the following behavior:

  • Promotion via deceptive ads on websites, apps or other properties, including simulated system, service, or app notifications or alerts.
  • Promotion or install tactics which cause redirection to Google Play or the download of the app without informed user action.
  • Unsolicited promotion via SMS services.

One of the key changes that this new policy brings is the elimination of the downloading of apps via a simulated system dialog box. This is quite popular in the Windows platform where a user will often see a pop-up ad on the screen that looks like a Windows dialog box. It will often warn users that their system has an error or that it is infected with malware and provides a way to resolve the issue by letting the user download a program. This tactic is now being used by developers in the Android system.

Under the Ad Policy category on the Ads Context guidelines the changes state that “Ads must not simulate or impersonate the user interface of any app, or notification and warning elements of an operating system. It must be clear to the user which app each ad is associated with or implemented in.” This basically warns the developers of the ad networks they may be using that may engage in deceptive behavior.

The new policy no longer allows apps to access the SMS feature without getting the consent of the user. A lot of app developers today on Android and even on iOS send out SMS as a way of making their apps viral. Sometimes it works but sometimes it doesn’t, the bottom line is that Google is clamping down on this practice.

With regards to in-app purchases, developers must now make it clear which feature in the app requires an additional charge.

Apps are right now banned from containing viruses, worms, malware or simply by linking to these security threats. They are also not allowed to modify any browser settings, add homescreen shortcuts, icons, or bookmarks.

Google has notified all app developers via email regarding these changes and are giving them some time to unpublish their apps and resubmit them before the apps gets banned. “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 unpublish the app, or fix and republish the app within 15 calendar days of receiving this email. After this period, existing apps discovered to be in violation may be subject to warning or removal from Google Play.”

via google play

  • Attycakes

    I like this idea. It seems like sometimes developers just go out in a whim and assume users want all of the extra things they try to sneak in.

  • nexus5_owner

    Will this really make a big difference? These people will somehow find a way to work around these changes to the policies.

  • bretta49

    Cool. Looks like Google is working up something to help consumers like us! :) Good job Google.

  • bretta49

    Well at least they are trying. I am sure Google will do more. :)

  • andrew_dawson1

    Exactly. Being an Android developer myself, I support this move. Because of a few dirty Android developers, a lot of us get accused of being scamsters. I’m happy Google is taking measures.

  • bretta49

    A couple of days back there was an article in this site saying there are a couple of apps which mine for cryptocurrencies. And more shockingly these apps are there on Play Store.

  • contactsunny

    Yeah. The process with which you submit and publish your apps on the Play Store are not really monitored like Apple monitors its iTunes Store submissions. That is the reason all these apps show up on the Play Store. But it looks like Google is taking control, which is good.

  • arnoldStuart

    Yeah, I hope they do it. I hope they make it as strict as Apple. Then developers will come to senses and stop doing all this crazy stuff.

  • Ivan

    Apple used to check all apps that comes to the iTune store. Why did Google not do this to the play store. Allowing malwares into the store is a big security issue for us users.

  • Bharath

    Google is more open to developers. So I guess that maybe the reason. I might be wrong. :)

  • Andrew

    Being Open Source has nothing to do with Play Store. Play Store is not open source. It belongs to Google.

  • Andrew

    There are some serious threat with mobile apps these days! Google should have done this earlier.

  • Andrew

    Yeah, but iTunes store had this kind of security features long back. Google is late here! :

  • bretta49

    I had no idea about that! 😀

  • Ivan

    Yeah, What Andrew told!

  • Anderson Lewis

    I don’t know what exactly do you mean by being open but Google should take extra precautions on what apps to allow in Google Play.
    I’m pretty sure they’re aware of privacy issues at stake but it seems they’re policies are wanting at this time.

  • Raybert Eichmann

    With the number of apps being introduced to Google Play everyday, I don’t think Google is willing invest more resources to enforce strict inspection.
    User’s must change their mindset when it comes to apps. We must always think that our privacy is compromised everytime we install an app so we should pick only the ones we really need. I know this is easier said than done but this is the least that we can do as users at this time.

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