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.