Today Google made a blog post announcing that they are introducing a new age-based rating system for apps in the Play Store. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, Google’s new manual app review process will give developer’s more transparent feedback about why their app was rejected.
The new rating system will require developers to complete a questionnaire regarding the content of their app. Google will use this questionnaire information to give age appropriate ratings for the app based off industry standards in various world regions. Google says the new ratings will official ratings from the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) and its participating bodies, including the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). It is important that developers complete this questionnaire as soon as possible, Google says that apps without questionnaire data will be marked “Unrated” and consequently unavailable to certain users. Beginning in May, all new apps will be required to complete the questionnaire before the application is submitted to Google Play.
Google’s new app review process should be a welcome improvement for many developers. Developers have often lamented that Google is not specific about violations when an app is rejected from the Play Store. The blog post states:
“To assist in this effort and provide more transparency to developers, we’ve also rolled out improvements to the way we handle publishing status. Developers now have more insight into why apps are rejected or suspended, and they can easily fix and resubmit their apps for minor policy violations.”
This should please several developers who have had their app rejected with little help on what to fix before they resubmit the app. Google also says that the new app review process should not change the quick turnaround time for approving apps. The Play Store has a great reputation of approving apps much faster than iOS, and it looks like Google wants to continue offering that advantage on the Android development platform.
I’m sure some people get a bit nervous hearing that Google plans to regulate the Play Store more carefully. We all love that Android is open source, but when an entity becomes as large as the Play Store some regulation seems necessary. Google needs to objectively rate apps and continue to enforce their terms in an unbiased way. As long as they are careful, the changes announced today should be good for everyone, users and developers alike. Just don’t become like iOS or the Apple App Store, no one wants that Google.
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