Google Play updates developer policies to tackle rogue apps

Unlike Apple, Google has never instituted a vetting process for the apps submitted to its Android app store, and is counting on Bouncer – an automated app scanning service that analyzes apps by running them on Google’s cloud infrastructure and simulating how they will run on an Android device – to catch and ban malicious apps and developers.

Still, as has been recently proved, Bouncer can catch just so many bad apps, so Google has announced the tightening of its developer app policies in an effort to crack down on rogue and potentially malicious apps that have proliferated on Google Play.

The company sent an email detailing the changes to all developers and has given them a deadline within which they are required to fix and republish any application that breaks the newly given rules.

The changes include the restriction of the use of names or icons confusingly similar to existing system apps in order to reduce user confusion; more details about the type of apps that are not allowed on Google Play; clearer examples of what constitutes developer and app spamming behavior (which is, obviously, not allowed); and a new section addressing ad behavior in apps.

“First, 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,” the Google Play team pointed out in the letter.

“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 fix and republish the application within 30 calendar days of receiving this email. After this period, existing applications discovered to be in violation may be subject to warning or removal from Google Play,” the team wrote.

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