Communication between developers and users is an important thing these days. Users want to feel like they can easily ask questions or make requests, and developers want to be able to address complaints and explain features. The Play Store makes it very easy for these conversations to take place, but it looks like they could get a lot more up close and personal.
The Google Play Developer Console is alerting devs to “Add a physical contact address” to their account beginning September 30th. This address will be publicly visible on the dev’s app detail page in the Play Store. It will be mandatory for paid apps or apps with in-app purchases to provide a physical address. If a dev fails to provide their address it could result in their app being removed from the Play Store.
(this is a joke)
We can understand this requirement for business with a main headquarters, such as Facebook. For indie developers this seems like a big privacy concern. Why do users need to know where a developer lives? It’s a little crazy of Google to expect developers to do this. Developers have to put up with a lot of crap sometimes. They shouldn’t have to worry about someone showing up at their front door to yell at them.
What do you think of this new requirement? Do you think it’s a violation of privacy?
Is a PO Box considered sufficient for a “Physical Contact Address” ?
That is not a physical address in most industries.
I used PO Box back in days of developing shareware desktop apps before PayPal existed. Would hope Google accepts that but this is going overboard.
Wow. No way. I don’t need some ticked off customer coming to my address. Can you imagine what would have happened to Dong (the author of Flappy Bird) if he had to publish his home address?
I would put a PO box. You can rent one from most UPS stores as the address of the LLC. I would hope that they would encourage people NOT to use their own home address. You get into a bit of a liability issue here. If any psycho did physically go to someone’s house, I would imagine that they could sue Google for it, even if they were not physically harmed, the threat could be enough. As usual, I don’t think they really thought this through carefully.
All developers should just reply N/A.
P.O. BOX for the Win
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500 FTW
Greatest response ever
yea except when someone mails a letter there with Your Name on it…. and the White House receives it wondering why they are trying to reach you there. lol
April Fools! Oh wait….
I would pull my own app if I was a dev. This is ridiculous
App Developers are basically small businesses. Many Apps make money for the said developer.
When you sit back and think about it that way, it makes sense.
I know there are some rights to privacy, and I respect that but in that case I believe a developer could just use a PO Box then.
This is certainly stupid move by google. Give me one thing this can be used for?. This means less privacy and more problems for dev. don’t compare this to businesses, as 90% of dev, if not more are just ordinary people.
It’s no different than running any other business out of your home. Just because it’s an electronic product instead of a physical product doesn’t change that. And businesses inherently come with legal and taxation entanglements. The dev can use a PO box.
How are they not businesses? They sell a product to the public. Uh, that’s a business, guy.
Perhaps Google is prepping for near term regulations we don’t know about? Certainly is possible that the government states that devs need to be registered as businesses which would then require an address to be on file.
ordinary people doing what? Business! If money is being exchanged an address is needed.
Except I do my app on the side for fun and simply have a donate version as the app is open source. I don’t make any crazy amount of money off my app. I certainly will not get a PO Box for the $50 a month I get. I like that $50 though for use on the Play Store. Now I will lose that because they won’t be getting my address.
If this is something they force me to do I will be pulling my apps from the play store. I am not willing to risk my safety because of an upset customer.
Your address is already available to customers after purchase…
Boy will my neighbors be surprised when some user shows up with a baseball bat because my app crashed.
This will blow up in they face cause “Swatting” will take on a hold new level.
Sorry – but this encourages professionalism.
Use a PO box.
Seriously. I’ve never run a business with a home address, even a silly high school one.
I agree. This only applies to apps that have money changing hands, because those are the ones liable to be sued. The address gives you a mechanism to “serve them” court papers
Who wants to increase “professionalism”? Bleh.
My first thought is to wonder how you think a PO Box encourages professionalism.
But really, back to the start, this is a pretty antiquated way of looking at things. Being an app developer isn’t like the business someone may have run 20, even 10 years ago. Many developers have no physical presence outside of their home address, because one isn’t required — the entirely online and managed nature of something like the app store makes it superfluous. If there’s no physical product (all digital/online), there’s no physical correspondence (email and, for payments, ETF), you don’t need an office.
You have plenty of options if you need to track down a dev: A support email address and website are required; if a dev isn’t responsive there, or if they’re fake, your recourse is to report them to Google. Or put a stop on the charge through your credit card company. What are you hoping to accomplish by further being able to find the dev at a physical address? And should that address turn out to be a PO Box, where does that get you? Can you come up with a legitimate use for having a dev’s physical address that isn’t already otherwise covered?
Here’s the thing: If you’re an individual developer charging for an app, Google already has your address for tax purposes, and if there were a legal need for it (someone else here mentioned serving papers) it could be obtained by a court. So that is also a purpose that isn’t served here. And I ask again: What’s the use in requiring it to be public?
For myself — if forced, I’ll get a PO box. It will wipe out a month of revenue for me (my app is a small one). And I will literally never check it, and so it will serve no purpose other than to help fund the USPS. And that’s the thing. This accomplishes nothing, and will just be an inconvenience if not an outright blocker to smaller devs.
And no, you will not see that unruly dev you’ve been sparring with over email suddenly become courteous and polite.
Does this this count for subscription based, ad free apps too? :)
Breaking News: Indie app developer murdered in his own home after new app crashes.
Fox News: Google is killing app developers
This is exactly what I thought of. Does no one remember how much horrible hate mail the dev for Flappy Bird got? It was so bad he pulled the app from the store…..yeah the app that was making him a ton of money every day…pulled it. That’s awful. This is a huge privacy concern in my eyes, I’m getting close to releasing an app to the Play Store myself, but now I’m not so sure. Guess my only option is to get a P.O Box.
What if I live in a box?
P.O. Box: Box
IN A VAAAAAAAN
DOWN BY THE RIVERRRRRRRRRRRRR!
Are you sure you are not dead then? Is it a pine box?
This sounds ridiculous
This seems good to me. If you want my money, you’d better provide a place to send my summons when I have to sue you to get it back. Just like EVERY OTHER BUSINESS is required to do.
I wish I could be there to see the look on your attorney’s face when you tell him you’re suing some guy for $2.99.
2 words. “class action”
I strongly doubt that’s what Jack had in mind, but a class action is certainly more realistic here than a small claim, and that’s a valid point.
Regardless, Google has the dev’s address on file already (if they’re charging for an app, Google collects certain information for tax purposes, including address) and could make that available in the case of legal action.
Publishing that information by default is irresponsible.
YOU ALREADY GET OUR ADDRESS if you purchase our app. All customers already get our address at time of purchase. This isn’t about that. Now we are being forced to post our address to everyone on Google Play, even non-customers. This isn’t right.
Ok, I don’t know who you are, or what your app is, but I just checked a bunch of my Google receipts for apps and in-app purchases…and I can’t find one address. Where are all these addresses I already have?
It’s in Google Wallet (not the email receipts) – as it currently stands you can see a developer’s street address in your Google Wallet account after buying something, but that’s a long way from having it pinned on the public app page. This change would probably also make it super-easy for someone to scrape the physical addresses of app developers.
Good thing I got a PO Box for this.
Probably can’t use a PO Box. The alert says “physical address” which would be an actual place on a map.
Address of the post office where the box resides in then!
If PO Boxes are not physical addresses, then some places don’t have physical addresses at all. I used to live somewhere where all postal addresses were PO Boxes. The post office did not deliver post to people’s houses. If you wanted to receive mail, you had to have a PO Box and go to the post office to pick it up yourself.
Stupid article with misleading title. Doesn’t say home address. Like mentioned can be business or p.o.box.
I doubt you could use a PO Box. It says a “physical address” is required. Guess we’ll know for sure soon.
As stated above tho, everyone who develops apps aren’t a business. Many work from home….
It says physical address. That means where you are physically located. PO boxes are never accepted as s physical address.
And developers will now be pulling their apps from the play store after this. They obviously havent learned their lesson after the YouTube fiasco.
I highly doubt devs will pull their apps because of this, but I wish they would…
If this goes through I will be. I don’t even have an address anymore, just lost my apartment and am couch hopping and there’s no way I’m posting my parents or friends address. This is complete BULL and is all about protecting the established companies and protecting them against competition from solo developers.
They won’t need to, their apps will be pulled automatically.
Is there a penalty for using a fake address? I don’t feel comfortable making my address public…
You could maybe do one really similar to yours? Like the same street but multiple houses down? Idk if you want to do that but using a fake address might get your app taken down.
Honestly, this new rule does make sense from a business perspective, but for small developers making games at home this can be a privacy risk. If there is one thing I learned from making games, it’s that some gamers have a false sense of entitlement. They expect perfection and they will throw a fit if your game doesn’t live up to their expectations. I can only imagine this being worse for paid games. I enjoy making games but I would gladly give it up to prevent my family from being threatened by some 17 year old who’s mad that my game didn’t run at a smooth 60fps on his crappy $50 phone. Not to mention all the hate mail.
I currently develop games using the “Free with Ads” model and unfortunately it looks like I’ll be sticking to that.
I can see a new move from swatting to dwapping. Someone misses that two hour window for a refund and calls in a foney police report on the dev.
This is a HUGE security risk but can be skirted if Google doesn’t actually check the location.
Wriggly Field addy anyone lol
Oh and those that mentioned P.O Boxes think again! People will sit there and watch till you go in and check it plus you have to pay for that crap.
Google needs to fix this ASAP.
And I don’t know if a P.O. Box will count as a “physical address” according to their requirements.
1060 West Addison?
Lol see the sister below
Or for those overseas…
221b Bakers Street
Even if you have a po box that can be a masking address and will be forwarded to their real address
Also what about all those devs that have abandoned their apps per say.
If they don’t log in all those will be removed and what if there are 15k+ people still using it….
Doesn’t say the app will stop working for people still using it. Only says it will be pulled from the Play Store, so they won’t be able to re-install it.
They need to really rethink this for indie devs. This only makes sense for companies. As advanced as Google is, they can be really bone-headed sometimes.
Excellent decision by Google. When dealing with matters pertaining to monies exchanged, I believe it is imperative that a physical address be provided in the event that legal action should ever need to be taken. This is an additional step for security for Google users. If you are a dev and can’t incorporate yourself and get at least a PO Box, then you aren’t really doing any real business to speak of. You always have the option of advertising on other sites for sideloading or you can choose to comply.
They ALREADY GET our address if they purchase our app. This isn’t about that, now our address will be featured on our app’s page so that the whole world can see it. There’s absolutely no good reason for this. Did your app just go viral? Congratulations, now all the scumbags in the world know where you live. Oh just buy a PO box you say, why should I be forced to pay an additional cost for something that has absolutely no benefit to anybody? No customer is gonna take the time to handwrite a letter when they can send an email which they already do since it’s an electronic product and we’re already required to provide our email and website.
There is absolutely nothing good that comes from this, it doesn’t help developers or customers, all it’s gonna do is drive independent developers out of the market so that they don’t compete with the established companies. It’s an additional barrier to development, if you wanna develop an app now you gotta shell out the money for a PO box regardless of whether anyone even ends up buying your app. Why even bother developing Android now? This requirement serves absolutely no good purpose because customers ALREADY GET our address, there’s no reason non-customers should get it too. Do you know how much spam and hatemail by irrational people I get simply by having my email address available on the store? And now I’m supposed to provide them my house? Are you serious?
Seriously. Cry me a river. So many emails go unanswered. Maybe a certifiedletter to stollegalaaddressewill get some remedy. If you seriously can’t afford to do business, then don’t! It’s not like a PO Box is some grand expenditure to conduct business. Nobody said that you had to put your home address. Christ… Who the hell conducts a business anyways and doesn’t have a physical address to mail to except for people that are probably doing something sketchy to begin with!
As it happens the apps I currently have in the Play Store are free, and I have no plans to release any paid apps. A PO box will cost me £250 per year to operate – considerably more than the £60 I’d have to pay to do the same for Apple, without having my address visible to everyone. This is hardly a trivial cost for a hobby.
The part that made me upset is that I already have a PO Box for my apps, but they want a PHYSICAL address. In other words, they don’t want someone to be able to mail you, they want someone to come knock on your door.
Also, I don’t think you should shame people for not incorporating…there’s nothing wrong with being a sole proprietor when you are starting out.
Makes sense for paid apps, but why don’t they just pull it from the associated Google Wallet Merchant account? They already have our physical legal addreses.
Developers need to demand a reason for this. Is Google so clueless that they probably think innovation only comes from big companies? Many users here enjoy novel little apps that come to market from individual users working out of their homes. That might well come to an end or perhaps given over to Amazon.
If you rent a mailbox most likely the only thing you’ll ever see in it is junk mail from the same folks that email trying to get you to buy ratings improving service, etc. I wouldn’t get a USPS box because the commercial mailbox services show as a street address and the box as a “suite” number so it might as well be an “office.” I looked into one to save buying proxies for my domain names and to set up some other commercial enterprises.
A common theme I’m seeing here is that, as a developer, if I’m charging money for my app then many of you think that makes me a business, and therefore I should cough up my address. In the United States, you are not necessarily correct:
That will be especially relevant for a lot of individual developers doing side projects that they decide to charge for, as opposed to a business that’s meant to pay the bills. These are the developers that are most adversely affected by this policy change. It’s the case for me — I don’t depend on the income, and I’m certainly not making a profit from it (please remember that development time isn’t free). Ergo I’m not a business. Where does that leave your argument?
If you’re a for-profit business, then yes, in most places you need to incorporate and that probably includes making a physical address publicly available (most likely in some sort of public record or registry operated by the town/municipality/whatever), depending on local laws. But I’m not a business, according to US law. So you giving Google $4 for my app doesn’t entitle you to my address.
To close with an analogy: How is this different from someone selling pottery they make on the weekends at a local swap meet? Are they legally required to have a sign up next to their booth with their home address, or get a PO Box if they don’t want to do that? If you buy a vase, are they legally required to give you their address? Of course not. (They probably had to register an address — privately — with the meet operators, though, so if that vase was laced with anthrax or something and need to sue, you can get their records.)
This move is purely something Google has decided to do, there’s nothing legal behind it. And it’s extremely poorly thought out for exactly the reasons many devs in here have pointed out.
This is not selling pottery at a swap meat. This is you attempting to make a profit. 95% of the apps placed on Google Play are for profit. Either directly or indirectly. You posted a link that actually proves this. And in most cases the states have additional rules that firm up the fact that you must register when making any profit via ad-rev or direct funding. It does not matter if it is on the web. Otherwise this could be used as a tax loophole. I could just open a 100 useless apps and get add revenue for the few thousand people dumb enough to download it and launch it. This is called holding developers accountable. I develop apps and there is no way I would develop without becoming a legit business. Anything else is just shady. Get a PO box its dirt cheap.
We already register a home address with Google in order to receive payment, and customers already gain access to our home address in Google Wallet after purchasing our app. So your reasoning holds no water. There is absolutely no good reason to share our home address on our app page with the entire rest of the world, it only opens us up to maltreatment. We already share our email and website there, if we put our home address there are you really gonna handwrite me a letter when you can just email? There is no good purpose for this and only potential for bad.
I should clarify that although I charge for my app, there’s no realistic chance of me recouping my development costs. Ever. I was aware of this from the start, and am fine with it, as I do this for fun, a side project. Put another way: A hobby. I suspect I’m not the only such dev out there.
With that in mind, read the link in full. It’s very clear that U.S. tax code does not consider simply charging money for something an “intent to profit”, and therefore a business. You, and others, are literally stating that the moment money changes hands, a business is born, and that simply isn’t true. To put it in terms of the language in the link, the particular nature of my app is such that I do not have a “reasonable expectation of earning a profit” (end of the third paragraph). You’re free to attempt to make a “legit business” out of your app development — good for you. For me, this is a hobby, and under U.S. tax law I’m allowed to charge money for the product of my hobby, as long as it meets certain guidelines, without the additional overhead of running a business. That’s actually the entire point of the link — learning how to distinguish business from hobby when money is involved.
Here’s another place you could start to help you understand a bit better: You dismissed the swap meet analogy pretty quickly without really explaining why, but I think it’s highly illustrative here. Think it through. What’s the difference?
Andrew, you know absolutely nothing about tax law and business earnings. I have a single person business, and report my income on my personal 1040, using schedule C. No need to register a business with anyone. There’s nothing shady about it – it’s a key part of the US tax code.
I doubt very much that 95% of apps placed on Google Play are for profit. Only a minority of apps are profitable, and most developers are aware of the fact before they even start. Many apps are experiments, or hobby or student projects, or exist merely to provide a public demonstration of the developer’s skills.
THIS IS ABSURD!!!
Ah come on, if you’re making money and have a registered trade name or company name your “physical place of business” address is already public record. This is what statuatory agents are for — basically lawyers who charge $50/year to throw away junk mail for you (or deal with the rare subpoena.) It sucks but it’s not the end of the world privacy-wise.
Depends where you live. The Australian Business Register only lists state and postcode.
A lot of the apps are written by hobbyists who probably do NOT have a registered business. In the U.S. you can report this kind of income on your personal tax return, with no need to establish a formal “business.”
Free with ads it is I guess. This is plain dumb for anything but businesses with an office address.
Since my app is free (Good guy me?) I’m guessing I’m not subject to this?
Not until the companies with established offices determine you’re a threat to their business model too.. that’s all this move is about is adding another barrier for newcomers making it that much harder for us to compete with established companies. Any customer who buys your app right now already gets your physical address, there is absolutely no good reason why we should have to provide our address to non-customers as well.
Every small business should have a cheap PO Box in any case. Insulates you from the crazies.
(I still use my old PO from the 90s that I got for domain names, before there was a such a thing as anonymizing services)
Play Store is going to be empty of apps, or developers are going to start dealing with disgruntled people face to face. I hope no one is harmed.
I would gather that if you pull a given manual from a product, you’ll see that there’s an above average chance the contact address is a PO box. Nothing will get pulled from the store, and I doubt this is discourage people from publishing. If anything, it’ll give people something to complain about.
If you use AdSense/free instead of paid apps, Google will still have your address :^)
I don’t think the issue is that Google will have your address, the issue is that they are going to make it public.
Thank you, Google, for sending job hunters, office supply salesmen, window cleaners and business vendors of all types…with perhaps criminal backgrounds…to the front door of my home so my child can open it.
Once my home address is made public, it’ll be added to all the other databases out there selling me everything from drugs to app rankings. It’ll be just a matter of time before all the “characters” who show up in my inbox start showing up at my front door as well.
It doesn’t have to be your home address. A P.O. Box will work just fine.
I appreciate your comment, but I think most people are aware a P.O. Box would work just fine. However, A) If an app customer already has a means to communicate with a developer via email and B) If a P.O. Box is just a snail mail version of the same system, which nobody will opt to use over the existing email contact, then what’s the point? With app revenue falling like a rock on both the Android and iOS sides, why would a developer now want the additional expense of maintaining a worthless P.O. Box?
Thinking up a system and implementing it just because it is different than the current system doesn’t make sense. Things like this need to be thought through for both the developer and, more importantly, for the app consumer.
A PO Box is not a physical address.
It will not. A PO Box is not a physical address.
Don’t blame the messenger. IANAL, but my understanding is that various locales (aka jurisdictions) now have laws requiring sellers to provide a physical address. The jurisdiction where you live is irrelevant; it’s where you’re selling it that matters, and Google Play is world-wide.
Post Office box? The private box services provide a physical address, and only cost $10 or $15 a month, but I agree this requirement seems dangerous. I can see providing it to Google, but not the public.
This is foolish and wrong. For companies, it’s fine, but for indie developers who work at home, it puts them in danger of harassment by random strangers, not to mention vast amounts of spam. Google are keen to encourage women in the industry. Women will be especially reluctant to make their home address so highly public.
If Google knows the developer’s physical address, that is enough. There’s no need for the general public to know it.
Just recently, Google admitted that it’s “real names” policy on Goolge+ was a mistake. Now, they are making a similar mistake on another platform.
But I’m not a business, according to US law. So you giving Google $4 for my app doesn’t entitle you to my address.
Allowing Google to have it is fine but giving it to the public not so. I can only imagine someone showing up to the devs house and setting their house on fire because their son can’t stop playing that developers game.
Good idea, now we can write or complaints to the company’s that srew us, might make developers think before they post crap and charge for it
If this is true, my Android dev career is about to come to an end.
If you were a dev, you would know that your address is already required…just jot on the app page. It’s available in purchase history.
I’m not even a developer but this is absurd!! I can only see bad things coming from this. I doubt anyone is going to personally go over to a developers house and thank them for a great job done on an app. On the flip side i can see someone going over to a developers house and oh, i dont know, shooting them in the face for some random reason….there are a lot of crazy people out there and I certainly dont want to let people know where I live……
All it takes is one pissed off customer to ruin that developers day or worse.
While I think this is absurd, you can get a P.O. Box and forget about it. I do think that there is a major legal issue with this, and I speak from experience with stalkers coming after my wife because someone accidentally posted their itinerary on Google Maps. Things will change if a lunatic shows up at a house and kills someone, having found the address on the Play Store because it was REQUIRED.
A PO Box is not a physical address.
Look on the bright side: if an app user can use the Play Store to find out where the app developer lives, then so can a malware user use this Play Store requirement to find out where a malware developer lives and give that address to law enforcement.
Yeah, that ought to seriously decrease the number of malicious Android apps out there, to say the least…