New Google Play Store rules target annoying ads and copy crypto apps

New Google Play Store rules target annoying ads and copy crypto apps

Google is trying to reduce annoying, unskippable ads in Android apps and general bad behavior in the Play Store (via Tech Crunch). The company announced sweeping policy changes on Wednesday that update rules in several categories to be more specific, cracking down on loopholes developers may have used to circumvent existing rules.

One of the changes that will have the biggest impact on your day-to-day phone usage is ads. Google says its updated guidelines, which take effect September 30, help ensure “high-quality experiences for users when using Google Play apps.” The new policy tells developers that apps can’t show a full-screen ad that doesn’t let you close it after 15 seconds. There are a few exceptions – if you voluntarily choose to watch an ad to get some sort of reward points, or if they appear during a break in the action, these rules won’t necessarily apply.

Google’s current policy states that ads “must be easily dismissed without penalty” and that you must be able to close full-screen ads, but the 15-second benchmark is new. Although it’s still a bit of a wait, it does ensure that you don’t have to watch a two-minute long ad where the (lowercase, hard to see) “x” doesn’t appear until after 70 seconds, just in the middle of a game or trying to do something else.


One of Google’s examples of an ad that breaks the rules.
GIF: Google

The new rules also specify that ads should not be “unexpected”, appearing right after a level or item loads. Again, the current rules already say that surprise disruptive ads are not allowed, but the new rules give additional concrete examples of violations.

It should be noted that advertising policies for apps designed for children are stricter. While Google isn’t changing a ton on the types of ads developers can show kids, it will be making some changes to the tools developers use to serve those ads, starting in November.

Google is also making changes to how apps can implement and use Android’s built-in VPN (or vliteral pShore notnetwork). Apps will not be allowed to implement their own VPNs to collect user data unless they get explicit permission from the user, nor will they be able to use VPNs to help users circumvent or to modify the advertisements of other applications. Mishaal Rahman, Technical Writer for Esper, pointed out on Twitter that this could help fight ad fraud where users pretend to click on ads from one country when they are actually in another but said that he could too affect things like DuckDuckGo’s privacy-focused app tracking protection.

Google’s new rules also include several other changes. For example, developers will need to link to an “easy-to-use online method” to cancel subscriptions in their app if their app sells subscriptions – the company says the link to Google Play’s subscription center counts. Google is also cracking down on health misinformation by adding a section saying apps can’t contain misleading information about vaccines, unapproved treatments, or “other harmful health practices, such as conversion therapy.”

The update also makes some changes to the language surrounding surveillance apps, or “stalkerware”, stating that any app designed to track people must use a specific indicator that tells Google what it is doing and that apps must say what it is doing. they can watch you or follow you. in their Play Store description. (These types of apps are still only allowed to track employees and children – Google explicitly says that using these apps to track someone else, such as a spouse, is prohibited, even if the user claims the tracked person is aware of this.)

There’s a slightly humorous tidbit in the updated “Impersonation” section – in addition to other companies, developers, and organizations, Google’s new rules say developers can’t try to trick people into their pretending their app is associated with an “entity” if it isn’t. As an example of what this means, Google shows an app with iconography that might trick users into thinking it’s associated with a government or cryptocurrency project. (There’s also a funny phrase about you can’t name your app “Justin Bieber Official” unless you’re actually Justin Bieber or have his permission, but that was already in the existing guidelines. .)

Not allowed: Use the Fishcoin logo in your app icon.
Image: Google

This example seems like perfect timing on Google’s part. Although the policy does not go into effect until the end of August, the company announced it just a day before Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent him a letter asking for more information about scam crypto apps on the Play Store.


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