This week Google has released a set of updated policies for developers to follow for apps hoping to be part of their official Google Play app store. There's a relatively short list of changes, but the rules have some far-reaching abilities to put it lightly. Developers are required to meet the listed policy changes as soon as possible, and any apps seen disobeying the rules will have 30 days to change or face the axe.
Developers can have a peek at the full rule set from Google if you're a developer or head to the shortened list here, starting with Payment Policies and running all the way down to the dreaded Spam. Advertising and Personal Information / Privacy are also covered, as is a new set of rules on Naming and Icons for your apps. You've gotta be careful, everyone, but for the most part these rules are set in place to cut down on developers looking to get an easy buck off of unsuspecting newbies.
Icons / Naming
For those developers looking to confuse users who are new to the market, this is really going to bust some skulls. Google is making an effort here to cut down on similar-looking icons and similar-sounding names in the market. If you've got an app called Angry Birdz, you're not going to be around for long. Similarly if you've got an icon that's the same set of colors, font, and arrangement as eBay but have named your app oBay, you might be in trouble again.
All transactions related to Google Play apps, that being either downloads or in-app purchases, must used Google's own payment system. This does not include purchases of goods or content outside of the app, with physical goods also not being included. This part of the rules includes a bit that developers "must not mislead users" - rather general, but fairly clear at the same time.
The most evil name in web-based interaction, Spam, has once again been refined and defined as follows, per Google:
• 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.
Personal Information / Privacy
Google has once again made it clear that they don't want any "dangerous products" such as "viruses, worms, defects, Trojan horses, malware, or any other items that may introduce security vulnerabilities to or harm user devices, applications, or personal data." Google does not under any circumstances want you to transmit such evil across their network. Of course that includes making sure you're not pushing information out of the users phone when they've not allowed you to, and it should go without saying that Google doesn't want you to make any phones physically explode.
Here Google gets really specific with how the advertising world is to be integrated with the application universe. Just as much as you're responsible as a developer for the content of the app, so too are you responsible for the content of the advertisements that run through your app. If your app does something evil, it wont just be the advertising network that gets in trouble for it - you will too (you meaning the developer of the application we're talking about here.) Good news for everyone, yes?
Have a peek at our Android portal for more information on how the Google Play universe is expanding day by day and of course head over to Android Community to take on the greater galaxy by storm!