Google has announced five notable updates to its Google Play policy on various topics. Similar to the last updates to Google Play's policies, these updates are also aimed at promoting user protection:
- Misleading Claims - Google has clarified its "Misleading Claims" policy by prohibiting any disinformation as to health-related and government services applications. Google has updated the examples for common violations given in the policy, to include prohibitions on applications that feature medical or health-related content that are harmful or misleading, and on applications that falsely claim affiliation with a government entity or that offer government services they are not authorized to provide.
- Metadata - Google has changed its Metadata policy to ensure that developers will provide users with a description and titles that represent their applications more accurately. According to the updated policy, Google will not allow applications that provide misleading, irrelevant, excessive, inappropriate, or non-descriptive metadata, including the application's description, developer's name, screenshots, promotions and icons. Developers will need to provide their users with clear and well-written descriptions. Google also prohibits, including anonymous user testimonials in the description. The policy also gives examples for recommended best practices, suggesting that developers should draft short and accurate descriptions and should avoid using inappropriate icons, videos, images and language.
- Ad Network Certification - The policy is aimed at developers of applications which are made for children. According to the policy, if the application's target audience includes children only, then developers must use one of Google Play's certified ad networks to serve the advertisements. An application that targets both adults and children will have to implement an age screening measures, using only certified ad networks to serve advertisements to children. Applications in the Designed for Family program must also use certified ad networks. In-house advertising, by which developers cross promote their own applications, is exempted from using Google Play's certified ad networks. Direct deals with advertisers will also be exempted.
The policy further portrays the requirements for obtaining an Ad Network Certification. To be certified as such, ad networks will need to define objectionable content and behavior and prohibit them in their policies; create rate methods to rate ad creatives according to age appropriate groups; and allow publishers to request child-directed treatment for ad serving, in compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the GDPR.
- Monetization and Ads - Google has also updated its policy on in-app virtual currencies. Accordingly, in-app virtual currencies must only be used within the application or game in which they were purchased.
- Spam and Minimum Functionality - Policies have been updated to set higher quality standards for applications on Google Play store. Google will not allow applications that spam users or Google Play, such as an application that sends users unsolicited massages or notifications and repetitive or low quality applications. Applications that send any kind of messages on behalf of the users, without giving them the opportunity to confirm the content or recipients, and applications having the sole purpose of creating web traffic without obtaining the permission from the website owner, are also prohibited. Moreover, Google requires applications to provide value to their users, stating that repetitive content that already exists on the store, shall not be accepted. In addition, Google requires developers to ensure that their applications provide a stable, engaging and responsive user experience. Google will not allow application that crash, force close or freeze on a regular basis.