Google is now manually reviewing apps that are submitted to the Play Store!

by: Bogdan PetrovanMarch 17, 2015

06 Google Play Store watermarked

In a move that should benefit users and developers alike, Google announced it began manually reviewing apps that are submitted to the Play Store.

Up until now, Google relied on automatic review processes in order to cope with the massive number of apps submitted every day to the world’s largest app store. However, the approach had more than a few drawbacks – a lot of malicious, exploitative, inappropriate, and low-quality apps made it through, affecting the user experience and creating troubles for legitimate developers caught in the crosshairs of undiscerning algorithms. That’s in contrast to Apple’s App Store, where each and every app is vetted manually before publishing.

That changes now, as Google introduced a manual review component to the vetting process, which, at least in theory, should alleviate the issues mentioned above. The manual component is already in place, actually; Google says it’s been using it for several months, and that developers haven’t noticed any adverse effects. That’s important because Google is presumably able to offer feedback to uncompliant apps within hours, not days or weeks.

“This new process involves a team of experts who are responsible for identifying violations of our developer policies earlier in the app lifecycle. We value the rapid innovation and iteration that is unique to Google Play, and will continue to help developers get their products to market within a matter of hours after submission, rather than days or weeks. In fact, there has been no noticeable change for developers during the rollout.”

According to Purnima Kochikar, Director of Business Development for Google Play, 100 percent of the apps that are currently submitted to the Play Store are reviewed manually, at least to some extent. Google is still relying on algorithms for the bulks of checks, for things like malware or copyrighted content.

“We’re constantly trying to figure out how machines can learn more. So whatever the machines can catch today, the machines do. And whatever we need humans to weigh in on, humans do,” said the Google representative. It’s not clear exactly when the reviewers step in, but the whole process still takes just a few hours.

Developers now have more insight into why apps are rejected or suspended

Another change that developers will definitely appreciate is more insight into the publishing status of an app. “Developers now have more insight into why apps are rejected or suspended, and they can easily fix and resubmit their apps for minor policy violations.” It’s not clear what this change entails, but we’ll keep you posted with more details.

Google also introduced a new age-based rating system that will make it easier for developers to target appropriate audiences. Developers will have to fill out a questionnaire to determine their apps’ rating, and starting with May, going through this step will be mandatory for any new app and update.

  • JK

    been waiting for this announcement for SUCH a long time. there are WAY too many….just crappy apps/games out there that do not even deserve to exist.

    • I completely agree. My own App “EZ Notes” which is an Audio Memo App for Android, has suffered quite a lot in recent months due to a huge influx of worthless flashlight and Wallpaper Apps that don’t really help people much in their daily lives.

      Thanks for the comments JK… I totally agree with you.

      Hope you can share word about my work on “EZ Notes”

      Sincerely Yours,
      Alexander Madani
      Developer of “EZ Notes”

  • shoolawa


  • Luka

    Who ever these experts are, they got nothing on Joe :)

  • xdigi

    Love the change in tune. Before it was how Google is so open and Apple is a walled garden yet the second Google announces this, fanboys are going on and on about how it’s “about time”. Every single thing fanboys criticised Apple for they cheer the second Google does the same.

    Quite telling.

    • namesib

      I don’t think there is controversy in the statement that Apple’s requirements are far stricter than Google’s (their enforced UI standards, for example).

      • xdigi

        Which would make sense if not for the majority of people in threads commenting on this saying they want Google to enforce UI standards.

        • namesib

          I agree that the material design/stock fanboys are quite hypocritical.

          • xdigi

            I’m not saying it’s a bad thing Google is doing this, just I hate seeing the ugly elements of Apple vs Android.

            (Though, as a web designer, I’m not exactly a fan of Material Design yet so I’m ok with them not enforcing it! ;))

  • G567

    The existence of human reviewers to help with the approval of new apps and games on Google Play has begun a few months ago actually.

    The age rating system to be displayed on Google Play will depend on the country of the customer.

    • primalxconvoy

      So, in Japan, all the kiddie porn manga books and apps will still be able to be sold to kids at Google play?

      It’s tat like that which keeps me away from scrolling down through my Google play page.

      Edit: just checked and they’re gone! Perhaps it’s working?

  • MasterMuffin

    Giving more information as to why apps are rejected/removed is also a welcome change. No more dev whining in social media!

    • Anonymousfella

      This is going to be useful if they are gonna convince companies that Android is secure and Android at Work is the best enterprise solution.

    • juguar

      Yea, they may have gone overboard. I just had something rejected for showing sports team logos in my app. I’m not “taking” someone else’s property (e.g. a logo) and calling it my own, nor am I implying any kind of partnership or endorsement.. Esp. because 100s of other top apps with millions of downloads are doing the same.

  • we

    Not true, there is no explanation for suspended apps and we can´t do anything about it = app is locked and we can´t fix what is wrong, only republish and loose all customers! Support didn´t help and this didn´t change.

  • mrochester

    This has been long overdue, and it’ll be great for the Play Store for Google to finally properly vet apps. Android sorely needs some consistency and this will hopefully see that improved.

  • blazze11

    Now we need a filter for play store search.
    Sort by rating, downloads and more…

  • Gary

    does reviewing manually means “You…play this game and find out the bugs at the end of this week !” ?

  • Albin

    Interesting that Google is inadvertently performing a service for Amazon and other mainstream Android app sites, that can piggyback off the Play Store safety review. Since I have a commercial account with Amazon for other purposes, I’ve preferred to buy paid apps through it rather than give Google my credit card identity – not missing anything I want so far.

  • Pedro Gomes

    It’s still the same old Google, no info on those emails. It’s just not in compliance.. but with what? When you appeal they just say, final appeal our decision is final. David vs Golias!