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Google tightens up app store guidelines to protect users

Google has updated its Google Play Developer Program Policy in an attempt to cut down on deceptive advertising practices and other nefarious activities on the part of app developers and the third-party services they utilize. The policy changes put the onus on app coders to make sure the tools they submit to Google’s store are free from shady advertising or affiliate schemes.

Apps published on Google Play may not use “promotion via deceptive ads on websites, apps or other properties” read the new guidelines. Particular emphasis is placed on pop-up adverts that try and simulate ‘official’ Android or app notifications. The new policy also clamps down on “tactics which cause redirection to Google Play or the download of the app without informed user action” and unsolicited use of SMS for advertising purposes.

The Developer Program Policy specifies that “ads must not simulate or impersonate the user interface of any app, or notification and warning elements of an operating system” — in other words, if it’s an advert, then it has to look like an advert. Google has also reworded its guidelines on apps that include sexual content: “Apps that contain or promote pornography are prohibited; this includes sexually explicit or erotic content, icons, titles or descriptions,” explains the official documentation.

Other changes, as reported by TechCrunch, include bans for any app that links to a piece of malware or that tries to modify the settings of a browser app. Developers have a couple of weeks to make sure that their apps comply with the new guidelines and resubmit them to Google Play.

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