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

March 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.

<em>Developers now have more insight into why apps are rejected or suspended</em>

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.