Google play

New section warns developers against using fishy tactics for app promotion

Google sent out an email to Android app developers this afternoon, letting them know about some changes to the Google Play Developer Program policy. While Android is open source and free to distribute and build, to get Google's stamp of approval and access to Google Play there are rules everyone must follow. Getting an app published to Google play is no different. You're expected to follow a basic set of guidelines, and if you're found to be outside of these rules, your app gets the boot. If it happens enough times, your developer account gets the boot. Those rules are what got a minor update today.

While most of the changes are just minor tweaks to verbiage — explicit material is still forbidden, and now so are icons that display it; apps with in-app purchases now have to declare that in-app purchases use real money, and like changes — to close loopholes that apparently someone was trying to squeeze through. But there is one new section, and it's all about app promotion.

Apps published on Google Play may not directly or indirectly engage in or benefit from the following behavior:

  • Promotion via deceptive ads on websites, apps or other properties, including simulated system, service, or app notifications or alerts.
  • Promotion or install tactics which cause redirection to Google Play or the download of the app without informed user action.
  • Unsolicited promotion via SMS services.

It is your responsibility to ensure that no ad network or affiliate uses such methods to direct users to pages that make your app available for download.

Simply put, you can't trick users into installing your app. This means no weird banners on websites, no fake system dialogs, or no text message spamming without asking you first.

It's a shame this sort of behavior has to be mentioned by name, and we, as users, should shun all developers who use such tactics. Let's hope Google takes action on apps that use these tricks when they are reported, and the Play Store gets a bit of cleaning up.

Source: Google

 

Reader comments

Google updates developer policy, we hope they enforce it

34 Comments

Exactly what the Play Store needed when it launched!

I'm sick of notification ads on my S3, and ad detectors can't find the culprit.

Maybe it's the immense amount of free (but crappy) apps my mom installed on it.

The next time that happens, long press on the notification, and you get the option to go to the AppInfo page for the App that created the notification. From there you can turn notifications off or uninstall the app completely. :)

I've done that over and over with Subway Surfer yet somehow it keeps getting turned back on. Finally ticked me off to the point I uninstalled it!!

When you go to Zelda walk through websites there is a system pop up that says "Your phone has 3 viruses! Go to Google Play to get rid of them!" Or something along those lines. I never clicked OK but I am sure this is why Google has thankfully put these new rules in check. As a developer I find the tactics some developers use to be dehumanizing. It's as if you are no longer a cognitive being. They make you react in a fight or flight response. If you wait a few seconds and reason through It you will be ok. Unfortunately non developers or non tech savvy people have no clue and think that their phone is infected and hit OK.

Posted via Android Central App

I was just taking about this a few days ago. That why i was refusing to use the web. Sometimes the apps automatically take me to the play store and start downloading without me saying OK.

LG G2 on 4.4. Kit-Kat

These new policies are only for apps in Google Play. So while the practice you mention is terrible, it's a web page, so not subject to these rules.

But the new policies clearly state that the developers are responsible for those ads, so they should do something about it (like changing ad network) or be found in breach of the new policy.

Google cares more about numbers of apps than they do about quality. This is a nice step they are taking but they want as many apps as possible for marketing purposes.

The current policy of scanning the app store is much better IMO as there are no delays in publishing the app and any malware is caught afterwards anyway

Posted via Android Central App on Google Nexus 7 2013

I would prefer something that ensures that not only the apps are not viruses, but work well, meet UI guidelines, aren't asking for excess permissions, etc. A week or two delay would be worth it to get higher quality apps in the store.

I'm all for a stricter iTunes model that inspects every app uploaded. Anyone would be able to submit an app for approval but it would have to meet certain base criteria.

Sent via my Verizon Moto X

I know both Candy Crush and Clash of Clans have ads that take you directly to their google play pages just by visiting a completely unassociated website. I had to stop going to one of my favorite websites on my phone because it would redirect me there ever 30 secs.

You would think a little 'download our app' banner or link at the top of the page would be sufficient. However, just like website authors, app devs don't care who they annoy to get what they want.

One solution is (if you are using chrome, others have similar functionality) to activate the "ask site for desktop version" before visiting the site, i have found it stops a lot of those ads.

Awesome. Less spam and crap the better. A decent app and a good app developer doesn't need to result in these fishy tactics.

Android apps have come a long way from how they used to be before. Partially it's due to developers following the guidelines and making nicer GUI. The only issue now is the shitload of mediocre app that plague the Play Store.

Posted via Android Central App

+1
there are hundreds maybe thousands of flashlight apps, most of them full of background crap. its a little ridiculous
Posted via Android Central App

FINALLY. I don't like using adblock, save for auto-playing video ads in imgur and The Escapist, but on my phone I don't have much choice, because of those godawful ads. Can't read webcomics if my phone is telling me my "APP store need Update immediately" before unloading the page, cycling through a few redirects, and coming to rest on an APK...
Hopefully whoever enforces these policies enforces them with extreme prejudice. The only way I can see it going wrong is with people trying to use these unscrupulous ads to point to competing apps... so maybe a little less prejudice.

I wonder how this affects EA's scummy tactic of redirecting people to a "comment" that goes straight to spam when they want to rate Dungeon Keeper anything less than 5 stars.

I haven't seen that happen with me before. I posted a review on my old account and that didn't happen. (I gave it 2 stars.)
Posted via Android Central App

I know Google makes "most" of it's revenue from ads but Google used to do exactly what it's trying to stop. If anyone is to blame, it's Google. I know they have stopped this practice, but using "blunt force trauma" with ads everywhere mentality has developers trying new ways for generating revenue. Shit needs to stop.

Here's an idea: Pay for the apps you use outright. I rarely see ads because I purchase the apps that are useful to me.

The official Scrabble app is ad-only. I refuse to play it. If they had a paid version I'd buy it but they apparently make more money on ads.

I do that. I try the free version for little bit to see if I like it and if I do, I buy it. Free apps don't sit long on my phone.

These changes were probably made because of that bs Gameloft pulled with the Captain America game. Though I'm sure everyone saw that bs coming. It's Gameloft afterall.

Posted via Android Central App

Are they going to enforce this on apps already in the store? Nothing gets an instant 1 star review faster than an app I was forced to look at.

Posted via Android Central App

I mainly use Amazon over Google Play (the Snap client app for BB10) mainly because I trust Amazon over Google. It'll take some time before I change my opinion on that.

Posted via Android Central App on BlackBerry Z30

I can't turn off the notifications on Dead Trigger 2 and Real Racing 3. I uncheck the notifications (in app info/system settings) box and it still keeps giving me notifications. Annoying, deceitful app developers!

Posted via Android Central App

This is one of the most retarded new policies they could've ever come up with. Basically how can app developers promote their apps if they don't tell you what the app does, and is used for? That is done with banners that might ask, Is your phone slow? Install CleanMaster to speed it up! <-- but this is in violation of their retarded new guidelines.

If an app developer would advertise Install Clean Master, chances are very little number of people would click to install it, because there are so many apps out there no one has a clue what they do - so its very important to educate people what the app does, and if they find it useful/matching their needs - they will want to install it.

There are a TON of quality apps out there, FREE which might disappear because of this new retarded policy.

I don't think asking "Is your phone slow?" is against these new rules. However, saying "Your phone has 3 viruses" in a website popup that auto re-directs you to their app to clean up these non-existent viruses. That's deceptive and against the rules.