Google Play StoreSource: Android Central

What you need to know

  • Google Play will introduce a safety section to bring more app transparency.
  • The section will inform users of the different data requirements and safety features of an app.
  • The timeline for the safety section indicates a rollout won't occur until early 2022.

Google is announcing a new safety section that will live in Google Play app listings. The new section will encourage better transparency between users and app developers by including useful information about how an app uses data.

Google wants developers to indicate the kind of information that their app will use, including "approximate or precise location, contacts, personal information (e.g. name, email address), photos & videos, audio files, and storage files."

Developers have the ability to highlight if their app includes data encryption, whether or not the app can function without sharing or using certain data if users can request data deletion in the event of an app being uninstalled, and if their app follows Google's Family Policy which is required for apps aimed at kids.

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A privacy policy will require developers to accurately represent the information displayed in this new safety section. The policy will be introduced in Q3 of this year, giving developers time to adjust before the deadline highlighted in Google's timeline:

Google Play Privacy Labels TimelineSource: Google

According to the timeline, the new safety section and privacy labels won't show up for end-users on the best Android phones until at least Q1 of 2022. Google decided to "pre-announce" the new policy, allowing developers enough time to prepare their apps listings for the changes.

Any developers that misrepresent their apps will be required to make appropriate changes, else be subject to Google's policy enforcement. As per Google's timeline, new apps and updates will be required to include this information by Q2 2022.

This seems to be more comprehensive than the current app permissions section found at the bottom of an app details page.

There are still a couple of unknowns with Google's new safety section, such as how it will appear in Android app listings for end users. We also don't know exactly how Google Play's new privacy policy will be "enforced" should developers misrepresent their apps. However, it's likely related to the recent guidelines that Google recently announced for app store listings.

The new privacy policy appears to give end-users more context before they install Android apps by allowing more transparency from developers. This has become increasingly important for users, as highlighted earlier this year when WhatsApp announced a change in its own privacy policy regarding the data it requires from users.

What do you think about the privacy policy changes being made to Google Play app listings?