Google will check apps by new developers more thoroughly

In an attempt to thwart Android developers who are set to distribute malicious apps through Google Play, Google will be taking more time when reviewing apps by developers with newly minted accounts.

Google Play protection

This reviewing process will take days, not weeks, Google assures, and should allow them to do more thorough checks before approving apps to be featured in the store.

Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management, Android & Google Play, also says that they know that some developer accounts might have been or might be suspended in error, but claims that 99%+ of these suspension decisions are correct.

“While the vast majority of developers on Android are well-meaning, some accounts are suspended for serious, repeated violation of policies that protect our shared users. Bad-faith developers often try to get around this by opening new accounts or using other developers’ existing accounts to publish unsafe apps,” he explained.

“While we strive for openness wherever possible, in order to prevent bad-faith developers from gaming our systems and putting our users at risk in the process, we can’t always share the reasons we’ve concluded that one account is related to another.”

Well-intentioned developers whose account has been flagged and suspended can always appeal the decision and, Samat promises, the appeal will be reviewed by a person, i.e., it’s not an automated process.

He also says that they’ll improve their communication with developers when it comes to rejections of apps due to specific policies and make their review and appeals process speedier as, among other things, they are expanding their evaluation and appeals review team.

A new permissions model

When announcing the changes planned for the upcoming Android Q, Google has delineated a number of changes that are aimed at improving users’ privacy.

Changes will be made to the permissions model and Google has rolled out guidance for each of the (potentially dangerous) Android runtime permissions, so that developers can get their apps in line with the new requirements.

“To better protect sensitive user data available through these permissions, we restricted access to select use cases, such as when an app has been chosen by the user to be their default text message app,” Samat explained.

“We understood that some app features using this data would no longer be allowed — including features that many users found valuable — and worked with you on alternatives where possible. As a result, today, the number of apps with access to this sensitive information has decreased by more than 98%. The vast majority of these were able to switch to an alternative or eliminate minor functionality.”

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