Play Store policy update: no more ads in notifications and other funny business!

August 24, 2013
Google updated the Play Store policy, explicitly forbidding apps that put ads in the notification bar, place shortcuts on the homescreen, or change the device without user consent.

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Starting September 23, the date by which app developers need to update their apps so they comply with the new Google Play policies, we should see fewer apps that push ads in the notification bar, mess with your bookmarks, or otherwise engage in behavior that is detrimental to the user. Newly submitted apps must comply with the new policies starting today.

Up until now, Google hasn’t had explicit rules in some areas, an omission that many developers used to their own benefit. That all changes today, and the longtime effect should be a marked improvement in the quality of apps that make it into the Play Store.

Here’s the list of changes:

  • Apps can no longer place ads or links to ads in the notification bar. Apps can only push notifications if they pertain to the functionality of the app. Google example: “an airline app that notifies users of special deals, or a game that notifies users of in-game promotions”
  • Having false or misleading information in any part of the app or app description is explicitly forbidden. This also applies to the developer name and linked website, meaning we should see fewer crappy apps that pretend to be big name games, and other such deceptive behavior.
  • Apps are forbidden to modify the settings of the device, change the order of the apps, replace bookmarks, or make other changes to the device without the user’s knowledge and consent.
  • Apps are strictly forbidden to place homescreen shortcuts, bookmarks, or icons for advertising purposes.
  • Interstitial ads (those that open between two screens of an app, for example) should have visible and easy to click close buttons.
  • Apps are forbidden to encourage or incentivize the user to remove other third-party apps (security services are mentioned as an exception).
  • Hate speech clarifications – “promotion of hatred against…” was replaced with the broader “content advocating against groups of people based on their…”
  • As before, gambling in apps is forbidden, and now the policy clarifies that any app that offers cash or other values as a prize falls in the gambling category.
  • Any exploitation of the Play Store rankings is explicitly prohibited, such as keyword stuffing, fake reviews, or misleading app descriptions.

Overall, this is big news for end users, who will benefit from a cleaner store, with fewer low-quality, misleading, and fraudulent applications. Unscrupulous developers who make money exploiting users have been essentially shown the door, though, without doubt, some will find ways to creep back in.

Don’t expect the changes to have an instant effect though. With close to one million apps in the Play Store, cleaning up efforts should take a while.

Comments

  • MasterMuffin

    I think the best part is that the false apps shall be gone that are like “yes this is the real deal here’s 100 lines of text and after that there’s a disclaimer saying that this is actually not real”

    • lil bit

      Yep, like installing a big game and then get the message that you have to allow one of these ad networks to install an additional program that will place ads and shortcuts everywhere anytime.

  • Pety

    Bravo! That’ s a good move.But many of those erased apps will return in an other form.”Risky business”,for us.

  • aldiablos inotech67

    It is awesome and great but Do I have to reinstall my apps if I update?

  • Ørjan Baglo

    Yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

  • BINGO

    GREAT MOVE GOOGLE…THANKS

  • Albin

    Good news. I’m still irritated that Play Store has become less informative rather than more in recent weeks, mushing together currently and previously installed apps and not informing about updates. We should be told on the information page whether an app is free, adware, a limited functionality or trial version, as well as whether it can be downloaded to SD. Too often you have to read user comments or waste time installing (and uninstalling) to learn these things.

    • Leonardo Rojas

      Very true.

      Google has had the Play Store like a bad organized local mini market for too long. It not long ago added the My Wishlist feature, before it I had to use Pocket to keep track of the many interesting apps I wanted. And, right now, Google, having so good software engineers can’t make the Play Store show me the current version of the app installed besides its name.
      How lame!!!

      • APai

        the change is welcome. google had so far done good by giving a free hand to the developers, until many of them started acting bad. some of the issues are relating to maturing of the store, some reasons are reactions to the new ways the crooks are resorting to. All in all, its great news for the end users!

      • Albin

        Agree, I do like the new Wishlist – good way to flag apps that might be handy or might need improving.

  • Tony

    That very good NEWS, million applause for Google’s effort to boot these so called app developers out of the door, with very misleading or even corrupt apps, that cause more harm to the end-users smart phone, without their knowledge.

    THANKS – GOOGLE.

  • HitokiriX

    Perfect.

  • George Av

    <3 Google ftw!

  • Connie Rizzo-Turpin

    This is great! I wish it was something that was put in place long ago.

  • Connie Rizzo-Turpin

    This is absolutely fabulous and something that needed to be done along time ago!!!

  • http://androidblog.site666.info/ android underground

    Great that apps can now only include ads in their own interface…

    …but what about apps without a user interface, like themes, icon packs, and widget-only apps? Or apps of the set-and-forget type? With the new Play Store rules they can’t make a single penny from advertising anymore, unless someone cooks up a smart new way of advertising in apps that are not meant to be opened.

    • Leonardo Rojas

      Good point. We don’t want discouraged developers :/ I hope there’s a way for them.

  • object

    SO SLOW

  • Farhi

    Nice, One of the reasons why i delete lots of apps is adv notifications.. I also hate when i scroll through my home screens to find weird shortcuts.

  • lil bit

    Great news, the Android devices of my daughter has always had problems with these crap games running in the background, eating memory and placing ads on notification area. There has been very little i can do about it, i just dont see myself spending hours to find her some good bloat-free dressup, makeup and fashion games, i wouldnt even know how to tell if they were good or bad.

    This is going to make Android twice as good as it is today, how many apps and games have i uninstalled in the past because of disastrous ad pushing, looks like thats not gonna happen again for a while, until someone finds a way to push ads in other ways, i fear that in-app advertising will become more aggressive as a result of this. And of course, i do not expect the worst ad-pushing devs to remove the intrusive behavior at once out of the goodness of their hearts, can take a long long time before we see the fruits of this change.

  • oscar garcia

    lets do our part by reporting those apps specially the ones that advertise in the notification bar and those who places fake icons on the main screen

  • tulaipaul

    Such policy updates had become inevitable. However, it can hardly stain the glories of the leading brands like inmobi, mobclix, appnext. They focus primarily on in-apps ads

  • Jaun Lombard

    Since Google gave the Play Store a new look, its having problems to connect on slower internet plus it is using more date just to browse the apps page!!

  • kelvinhanratty

    How would I determine WHICH apps are the ones placing ads in my notification bar? They’re just there, no indication what it is. I tend to swipe them away.