Google Releases New Android Developer Policies

Google Releases New Android Developer Policies

New policies are designed to prevent developers exploiting Android users.

Google has released a set of Android developer policies and guidelines in an attempt to regulate the quality of apps listed in the Google Play marketplace. The move comes in response to growing concerns that unscrupulous developers are scamming Android users, misleading them, or spamming them with large amounts of advertising.

The new list of policies attempts to prevent these issues occurring, and specifies that developers have 30 days to alter existing apps that don’t comply with the new standards. In an email to developers, Google stated that non-compliance would result in warnings, or removal of apps from the Google Play marketplace if they failed to make the necessary changes.

Google gave the following explanation for their actions in an email to developers:

“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.”

Google’s anything-goes Android platform has provided a stark contrast with the restrictive regulations that Apple places on developers. While many developers have praised Google’s laid-back approach to its app market, some have used the opportunity to scam and exploit, and a portion of Android users have paid a heavy price. Notable incidents that have cast Google’s Android marketplace in a less-than-favorable light include the Latvian company that were fined earlier this year for scamming UK Android users out of £28,000 using fake replicas of popular games.

The new policies attempt to address the latest issues that have plagued Android users. Developers are now forbidden to mimic other games, include sexually explicit, racist, or violent content, or promote illegal activities. Apps are also banned from making changes to the users’ device without their express permission.

Among other issues, the new policies address the rise in malware, and apps that mine users’ personal data, stating: “Don’t transmit viruses, worms, defects, Trojan horses, malware, or any other items that may introduce security vulnerabilities to or harm user devices, applications, or personal data.”

Android users have also complained of spam, and aggressive advertising strategies. Google has now specified that developers must limit the amount of repetitive content and refrain from creating keyword-heavy descriptions in the Android marketplace to boost their search relevancy. In the email to developers, the company specified:

“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.”

While the new policies are likely to improve the safety and quality of Android apps, it will be difficult to monitor Android’s third-party app stores. Have you been affected by Google’s free-for-all app market? Do you think these policies will help? Tell us in the comments below.

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