Google Play Adds App Review and App Rating Processes

Google has made some changes to the way it runs its Play Store. The alterations will impact developers, but not in a big way. First, human beings are now reviewing apps before they are published, and second, Google wants all apps rated for content.

Google said it began reviewing apps recently in order to protect the Android community and to improve the quality of apps in the Play Store. The company has assembled a team of “experts” to identify violations of Google’s developer policies. Google didn’t reveal how large this expert team is. Despite adding the human review process, Google is confident it can publish developers’ apps in a matter of hours. Developers should not notice any real change, according to Google.

One thing that will change is the level of transparency of the review process. Developers will know when their app is being reviewed. Moreover, Google will explain to developers why their apps were rejected or suspended, and what they can do to make them comply with Google’s policies.

This comes just a month after Google was forced to pull a handful of apps from the Play Store that were spreading adware.

Google is implementing a new age-based rating system, too, and this will entail some work on the part of developers. From May 1st on, all developers will need to complete a content-rating questionnaire in order for an app to be published. Google will use official ratings from the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) and its participating bodies. Google understands that countries and regions have their own beliefs on what content is appropriate for kids, teens, and adults, and the IARC will help generate the right ratings needed for each region.

“Consistent with industry best practices, this change will give developers an easy way to communicate familiar and locally relevant content ratings to their users and help improve app discovery and engagement by letting people choose content that is right for them,” said Google.

Already have some apps published in the Play Store? You’ll need to fill out the content rating questionnaire for those, too. Google won’t pull or suspend apps that don’t have a rating, but it will mark them as “Unrated.” Such apps may not be available in markets that require age ratings. In other words, it is in developers’ best interests to fill out the questionnaire.

The bottom line here is that Google Play Store is no longer the Wild West. Google isn’t going as far as Apple does to ensure quality apps, but it is sending a clear message to developers that it’s paying attention. 

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.

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