Recently, Google Play has introduced several important updates to its Developer Program Policies, focusing on functionality and quality requirements, user permissions, ads and gambling apps (see our related report on previous updates to these policies).

Please find below an overview of the key updates:

  • For the first time, Google Play has introduced minimum functionality and quality requirement from apps, namely that apps must provide a stable, responsive user experience, and should NOT crash, force close, freeze, or otherwise function abnormally (such as apps that do not install, load or are not responsive).
  • With respect to permission requests, Google has taken additional steps to protect users by limiting how and when developers can make such requests:
    • Apps should not request access to information that is not needed for the app’s purpose;
    • Apps may only request access to the user data that is necessary to implement existing features or services in the app. In other words, app should not attempt to "future proof" access to user data by requesting access to information that might benefit services or features that have not yet been implemented;
    • Permission requests should make sense to users, and should be limited to the critical information necessary to implement the app; and
    • Permissions should be requested in context, where possible, by using incremental authorizations. In using incremental authorizations, the app initially requests only the scopes which are required to start the app, and then requests additional scopes as new permissions if required, in a context that identifies the reason for the request to the user.
  • Guide apps, the primary purpose of which is to serve ads, are prohibited.
  • With respect to gambling apps – gambling apps may not be available in any location other than the UK, France and Ireland.