Today Google has made a rather large update to their Android Market now known as the Google Play Store. While many are reporting that they've taken steps to kill annoying in-app ads, that is only the beginning. Google's developer policy changes today are about more than just ads, it is a change in the app universe on Android -- for the better.
Many of the policies and rules listed have already been in place, but today we'll go through the new ones that will change Android's Play Store for the better. The full list of policies can be found here. From ads, to the colors and copy-cat fakes and more Google's taking a new approach here that should really help make the Play Store better for all -- except those developers that no one likes anyways.
First up since everyone is talking about them we'll start with ads. Those pesky in-app ads that popup and get in the way of gameplay, cover words and more are all about to be changed. We'll still have ads, but they have added new policies here. The Ads context has been changed where Google will hold the ad company, and the app developer responsive for misbehaving ads. No longer can developers use sketchy ad services that break rules, add shortcuts to your homescreen, toss ads in notification bar and more. If ads make changes, it must be clear what changes are being made and nothing can be hidden. This is a great move for the better that we think all users will be happy to hear.
Icons & Naming
Google has also attacked those fakes, copy-cat apps, and general similar apps that shouldn't be around. The Icons, naming, and colors are all under review. If your app icon and colors are exactly the same as the eBay app only it's called oBay, it won't be around long. Same thing goes for those bad apps that share nearly the same name as popular apps. Think Angry Birds or Temple Runner. This has been a major problem for Android and iOS and I'm glad to see some sort of rules being put in place.
As usual Google is focusing on personal information and privacy. This new update for 2012 is adding to their previous attempts to keep us safe, and viruses at bay. Viruses, worms, trojans, and more all aiming for your personal data will be tightened. Apps accessing personal information will get further evaluation and of course the permissions page will show it all too. Watch what you install guys. We don't think Malware is a big problem like some other sites report, but then I don't download weird junk.
All purchases either in-app or downloads will be required to use Google's own payment system. Content outside of an app doesn't apply, but anything in-app will need to use what Google offers. They also state developers “must not mislead users.” If you can't beat a game without in-app purchases, let us know. Good stuff Google. Good Stuff!
I wish all spammers would die a painful and fiery death. No one likes SPAM and Google is looking to further curb the problem with these new changes too. I'll just share everything Google said since the list is rather large:
• Do not post repetitive content.
• Product descriptions should not be misleading or loaded with keywords in an attempt to manipulate ranking or relevancy in the Store’s search results.
• Developers also should not attempt to change the placement of any Product in the Store by rating an application multiple times, or by offering incentives to users to rate an application with higher or lower ratings.
• Apps that are created by an automated tool or wizard service must not be submitted to Google Play by the operator of that service on behalf of other persons.
• Do not post an app where the primary functionality is to:
- Drive affiliate traffic to a website or
- Provide a webview of a website not owned or administered by you (unless you have permission from the website owner/administrator to do so)
• Do not send SMS, email, or other messages on behalf of the user without providing the user with the ability to confirm content and intended recipient.
These are all changes for the better if you ask us. The in-app purchase thing can be a problem for good, hard working developers that aren't in countries with Google's support -- so that could be a problem. In general however all these changes to the Play Store policies should be a good thing. If you're sick of seeing fake Temple Run games, Adobe Flash apps that are fake malware and other things we've heard in the past this should help in some manor. Obviously evil developers will always exist and are smart fellows, but hopefully Google hits them hard.
Everything outlined here today by Google will help make the Android experience a smoother, better, prettier, and more polished experience for everyone. Obviously Android and apps are still wide open, but these types of guidelines will help mature the platform even further than it already is. More details on Google's Play Store can be found below.