Google Play Store is home to many apps. Some might say it’s actually home to far too many apps. Android’s official app marketplace is better known for the quantity of apps available rather than the quality of those apps, and it might be long-overdue some trimming. It seems that a great culling is finally coming to Google Play Store as Google announces new policies that will clean up developer accounts and apps that have barely been used.
Google Play’s upcoming policy change isn’t just about keeping the Play Store clean of obsolete and unmaintained apps, though that is definitely one of the benefits of this culling. It is also about strengthening the platform’s security by removing software that might have vulnerabilities and severe bugs that have never been fixed. It is also about giving developers a stake in strengthening Android’s security.
It hasn’t been announced when it will take effect, but Google will soon close developer accounts that it considers to be dormant. These are accounts that have been inactive or abandoned after just a year or if the developer has never uploaded an app or even accessed Google Play Store in a year. Abandoned developer accounts run the risk of being exploited by hackers to upload malicious apps, especially if the accounts have been fortified with two-factor authentication.
That said, Google won’t close dormant developer accounts that have apps with more than 1,000 installs or with in-app purchases in the past 90 days. This would suggest that the apps have an active user base, and it would be disastrous if Google closed the account. That said, it should be noted that such apps might have unfixed bugs that put users at risk as well.
While it’s definitely good that Google is cleaning up its house, it does put a certain class of apps at a huge disadvantage. These would be apps that have less than 1,000 installs but are still actively used, despite the developer having gone MIA. Google does say that developers who get their accounts closed are more than welcome to create new ones, but they won’t be able to get back their old accounts, including the apps and data associated with them.