Google is trying to clip down on irritating, unskippable Android app ads and overall bad behavior in the Play Store. They also work to clamp down on other bad behavior.
The company revealed wide-ranging policy changes on Wednesday that update rules across several categories to be more specific, securing down on loopholes developers may have used to circumvent existing regulations.
One of the modifications that will impact your everyday phone usage the most is ads. Google says its revised guidelines, which will go into effect on September 30, ensure “high-quality experiences for users when they are employing Google Play apps.”
For example, the new policy advises developers that apps can’t pop up a full-screen ad that won’t allow you to close it after 15 seconds. But, of course, there are some exceptions — if you voluntarily choose to watch an ad to get some reward points, or if they pop up during a break in the action, those rules won’t apply.
Google’s current policy states ads “must be easily dismissible without penalty” and that you have to be able to shut out full-screen ads, but the 15-second benchmark is new. While that’s even a bit of a wait, it does create it so that you won’t have to pose through a two-minute long ad where the “x” only emerges after 70 seconds, right in the midpoint of a game or while attempting to do something else.
The new rules also define that ads shouldn’t be “unexpected,” popping up right after you load a level or article. Again, the existing authorities already say that disruptive shock ads aren’t allowed, but the new regulations give additional concrete instances of violations.
It’s worth mentioning that the ad policies for apps created for kids are stricter. So while Google’s not changing much about what sorts of ads developers can show kids, it will be changing the tools developers use to deliver those ads, starting in November.
Google also changes how apps can implement and use Android’s built-in VPN (or virtual private network) tools. Apps won’t be allowed to implement their VPNs to collect user data unless they get clear consent from the user, nor will they be capable of employing VPNs to help users bypass or change ads from other apps.
Mishaal Rahman, a technical editor for Esper, said on Twitter that this could allow a clamp down on ad fraud where users dissemble to be clicking on ads from one country while being in another but say that it could also affect things like DuckDuckGo‘s privacy-focused app tracking protection.
Google’s new rules contain several other changes as well. For instance, developers will be required to connect to an “easy-to-use, online method” for canceling subscriptions in their app if their app markets subscriptions — the company does say that relating to Google Play’s subscription center counts. Google’s also smashing down on health misinformation, adding a coalition that says apps can’t contain misleading information about vaccines, unapproved therapies, or “other harmful health practices, such as conversion therapy.”
The update also changes the language around monitoring apps, or “stalkerware,” stating that any app made to track people has to use a detailed flag telling Google what it’s doing. In addition, apps have to say that they can scan or follow you in their Play Store description. These sorts of apps are still only authorized to track employees and children — Google explicitly states using these apps for tracking someone else, like a spouse, is banned, even if the user declares the person being tracked is aware of it.
There’s one negligibly humorous tidbit in the updated “Impersonation” section — in complement to other companies, creators, and organizations, Google’s new rules state that creators can’t try and deceive people into believing that their app is related with an “entity” if it’s not. As an illustration of what this means, Google displays an app with iconography that could trick users into believing it’s associated with a government or cryptocurrency project. There’s also a witty line about how you can’t name your app “Justin Bieber Official” unless you’re Justin Bieber or have his permission, but it was already in the current guidelines.
This example seems to be perfect timing on Google’s part. While the policy won’t go into influence until the end of August, the company declared it just a day earlier Sen. Sherrod Brown sent it a letter soliciting more information on scammy crypto apps on the Play Store.
Google Play, also impressed as the Google Play Store and formerly Android Market, is a digital distribution service worked and developed by Google. It is the official app store for authenticated devices running on the Android operating system, its derivatives, and ChromeOS. It permits users to browse and download applications conceived with the Android software development kit (SDK) and published via Google.
Google Play also operates as a digital media store, presenting music, movies, books, and television programs. Content purchased on Google Play Movies & TV and Google Play Books can be got on a web browser and via the Android and iOS apps.
Google Play was launched on March 6, 2012, bringing together Android Market, Google Music, Google Movies, and the Google eBookstore under one brand, marking a shift in Google’s digital distribution strategy. Following their rebranding, Google has expanded the geographical support for each service. Since 2018, Google has slowly sunsetted the Play brand: Play Newsstand was rebranded as Google News in 2018; Play Music was terminated in favor of YouTube Music in 2020, and Play Movies & TV was rebranded as Google TV in 2021.
In 2022, Play Games is expected to shut down its mobile app in favor of an Android emulator for Windows with the exact name. The remaining standalone mobile app will be Play Books.