Google takes Apple’s cue and reviews Android apps before letting them into Google Play


Google Play Store wm watermark

Google today made a huge announcement regarding the way they handle app submissions in Google Play. To now, the company has been lax about letting developers upload applications and only looked to remove apps in hindsight if they were found to have violated Google Play’s developer policies.

But it seems Google’s tired of that approach — they’ve gone ahead and created a bit of a walled garden for Google Play not unlike the one Apple employs for their App Store (that is to say, they’re now reviewing apps before letting them into Google Play). Google says this move was made to better protect users and to ensure the quality of apps in Google Play remain top notch.

walled garden

Google said this process actually started a few months ago, and developers have yet to even notice. Their crack team of “experts” are able to review a large amount of apps in very quick succession so apps still appear in Google Play just mere hours after submission.

This sounds scary at first, we know. It’s a road we never thought Google would take, what with their emphasis on Android being “open” and “free.” But malware, hordes of apps that don’t work, and other toxic material in Google Play is counterproductive to the company’s goal of making Android even more fit for the mainstream than it already is. Example: what workplace is going to want to participate in Android for Work if their employees’ devices are exposed to potentially harmful apps?

Google hasn’t further detailed their review process, though they ensure us that the only thing they’re looking to do is make sure developers’ apps adhere to the developer policies outlined here. This isn’t going to be some Apple-like affair where they turn apps away for “duplicating functionality” or other nonsensical reasons.

To drive that point home, Google also mentioned that they will now be more upfront and clear about why your app may have been rejected or removed from Google Play. Furthermore, they’ve made it easier to resubmit apps for review after they’ve been rejected, so the fear of being exiled from Google Play forever should you make one tiny mistake should now evaporate.

No one is more thrilled to hear that than us, of course, as we’ve been the unfortunate recipients of Google Play banishment in the past.

developer code coding typing type keyboard

Our issue was never that our apps were removed in the first place. We’d eventually accepted and corrected our mistakes after having to comb through the developer policy ourselves and simply guess what we were doing wrong. It was Google’s lack of clarity as to why our apps were removed that drove us crazy, and that they didn’t make it easy to rectify the issue after identifying and fixing it didn’t help.

If what Google says is true, then we — and any other developer who has ever been in our shoes — should have a much easier time creating quality apps and uploading them to Google Play, even if it has to go through a very reasonable review period. And in the event that you do make an honest mistake and accidentally violate Google’s developer policies, it should be no sweat off your brow to get it fixed. This is great for developers and users alike, and it’s our hope that Google Play will become even stronger because of it.

PS: Google also detailed a new content rating system based on existing digital content guidelines established in each region. Developers will be asked to submit questionnaires about their apps and games, after which it will be given an age rating by an appropriate ratings board for each region the app is available in (ESRB in North America and PEGI in Europe, for instance).

The questionnaire isn’t required for existing apps right now, though Google notes that any apps without a rating may be blocked in certain countries where distributing unrated content is prohibited. The questionnaire will be required for all new apps and games uploaded to Google Play starting in May. Be sure to get your app situated by submitting questionnaires (available through the developer console) as soon as possible.

[via Google]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Thank you Google. I love the open ecosystem but it makes it easier for the nefarious minded to get over on good folk.

    1. for real, I cant wait for them to really get some of these stupid apps/games outta there.

      1. delete from apps_table where app_name like ‘%Clash%’

  2. “Developers now have more insight into why apps are rejected or suspended, and they can easily fix and resubmit their apps for minor policy violations.”

    That is what I am excited about!

    1. so much better to actually work with the developer to get an idea or project up and running. especially newbies who are not entirely sure what they are fully doing yet. this is going to be great in so many ways.

  3. it was a walled garden before and is a walled garden now.. no difference to me
    simply put they’ve gone from blacklist to whitelist, but the filter was there all along and the rules what is filtered never changed.

    if android stays open is a completely different matter and as long as you can freely install apps from FDroid and the likes, it means that android gives you a bit more freedom then iOS.

  4. Sounds good to me…one of the things I have admired about iOS is the quality of the apps..Go Google!!!

    1. I agree 100% hopefully they catch up on the quality aspect

    2. Well it’s not always rainbows and butterflies on their side, you still get bad eggs. This is mainly addressing the development terms and not necessarily getting us better quality stuff, which really depends on the developer only. You can still make crappy apps and release them. I just want all those sketchy financial apps gone.

  5. Good move.

  6. As much as I love Google and Android, the mess that the Play Store is was one of those things I could not defend to my iOS using fans. The Play Store is a mess. As great as Google’s search engine is, finding the apps one is looking for in Play without getting a ton of irrelevant returns is frustrating. The number one complaint from my coworkers here in my IS building who have iPhones but their kids have Android phones…. fake apps that are made to look like legitimate ones, especially ones that have far too many permissions that aren’t required. A search for “Clash of Clans” should have one, maybe two results. If those of us who really pay attention to what we’re installing have to inspect the entry, the publisher, etc, it’s not good for kids. I’m still not a fan of consolidating permissions and hiding them (thank God for xposed). I like to know EVERY permission an app is asking for.

    Due diligence is important when installing everything, but if people need Android site level obsession to figure out which apps are legit and which aren’t, the Play store is doing it wrong and needed to be overhauled.

    Total disclosure on why every app needs any permission it asks for, explicitly, should be the next step along with where the collected information is being sent.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. For Google to not have thought ahead and made the Play store at least as good as something like Amazon’s search where you can filter on price, popularity, ratings, etc. is really inexcusable. I don’t know how they think it’s been OK up to now. I would have funded a big improvement years ago. I pretty much never search for anything on the Play store – I have to find what I’m looking for on the general web, then check the play store for the exact title.

  7. Brilliant move all around

    Also very impressed to see people here admitting things that Apple gets right. It’s been like Israel and Palestine lately.

  8. Good about time a lot of phony app in Google play store

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