Google has updated its Play Store policies in a bid to crack down on apps that send ads and create shortcuts of websites on users’ homescreens without permission.
The move means that apps now cannot send users ads on the notification bar or create shortcuts on the homescreen.
An app is not allowed to modify any settings on the smartphone or tablet without the user’s knowledge or that cannot be reversed by simply uninstalling the app.
There are also strict rules on the kind of descriptions put for apps and developers can no longer use misleading descriptions, fake reviews or use a lot of keyword tags to attract users.
Every developer has been given a window of 30 days to modify their apps to adhere to these new policies.
New apps though have no choice but to comply with them immediately. Google has also strictly mentioned that apps that violate any rule will be immediately removed from the Play Store.
Google compiled a list of changes (republished below):
• Apps can no longer place ads or links to ads in the notification bar. Apps can only push notifications if they pertain to the functionality of the app. Google example: “an airline app that notifies users of special deals, or a game that notifies users of in-game promotions”
• Having false or misleading information in any part of the app or app description is explicitly forbidden. This also applies to the developer name and linked website, meaning we should see fewer crappy apps that pretend to be big name games, and other such deceptive behavior.
• Apps are forbidden to modify the settings of the device, change the order of the apps, replace bookmarks, or make other changes to the device without the user’s knowledge and consent.
• Apps are strictly forbidden to place homescreen shortcuts, bookmarks, or icons for advertising purposes.
• Interstitial ads (those that open between two screens of an app, for example) should have visible and easy to click close buttons.
• Apps are forbidden to encourage or incentivize the user to remove other third-party apps (security services are mentioned as an exception).
• Hate speech clarifications – “promotion of hatred against…” was replaced with the broader “content advocating against groups of people based on their…”
• As before, gambling in apps is forbidden, and now the policy clarifies that any app that offers cash or other values as a prize falls in the gambling category.
• Any exploitation of the Play Store rankings is explicitly prohibited, such as keyword stuffing, fake reviews, or misleading app descriptions.