Although I’ve personally never had any major finding the apps I want on Google Play, a number of critics over the years have claimed that Google’s app store experience pales in comparison with what you’d find over at Camp Apple. While the number of apps offered have quickly caught up to the rival platform over the last few years, Google’s automatic app approval process has been criticized for being a less efficient way of vetting apps and as result a number of inappropriate, malicious, or simply low-quality apps have continued to make their way into Google’s app store.
Last month, Google decided to raise the bar several notches, switching to a manual app approval process that should lay some of these previous complaints to rest. Going a step further, Google wants to upgrade its kid-friendly app experience as well. Today Google announced to developers a brand new program called “Designed For Families” which lets app makers voluntarily submit their apps for additional review in order to be labeled “Designed for Families”.
Google will be adding more ways to promote family content to users on Google Play 'in the coming weeks'.
The purpose of this designation is to make high-quality, family-friendly apps stand out in a sea full of apps aimed at kids, but that honestly provide low-quality experiences and often inappropriate ads, in-app purchases, and even content that isn’t as age-friendly as an app claims by its title or description. Google has yet to clarify exactly how it will make these stand-out apps discoverable, but their official blog post says they’ll be adding more ways to promote family content to users on Google Play “in the coming weeks”.
As a parent, I am excited by this news. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve downloaded an app for my five-year-old daughter only to find that what looked like a semi-decent app turned out to be full of pop-ads, a poor and confusing UI, and the list goes on. Thankfully I always check out the apps in detail before handing them over to my child, but a “Designed for Families” program would make it that much easier to find good stuff for my kids.
As for what kind of apps will qualify into the program? Google’s approval process is based on a set of in-house specifications, but they are based industry standards, such as content must be ESRB or Everyone 10+ and ads have to meet certain guidelines to ensure they are age appropriate. For those wondering what would happen if a company with a low-quality app submits and manages to get past the approval process, Google says an app that breaks any of its program rules won’t just be removed from the “Designed for Families” category, but from the Google Play store entirely.