Since the launch of Google Play and the Android Market before it, apps submitted have always been automatically tested before being made available – it’s part of what some describe as an attraction for Android, but Google has announced that this has now ended. On the Android Developers blog Google has announced they will be manually reviewing apps submitted to Google Play, as well as implementing a global content rating system for the Google Play Store.
Developers will now be able to complete a questionnaire for each app submitted that will give allow the apps to be rated according to a wide selection of international classification systems, including the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) and its participating bodies, including the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), Pan-European Game Information (PEGI), Australian Classification Board, Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) and Classificação Indicativa (ClassInd).
The new content rating system is designed to help developers facilitate app discovery, as well as give users a consistent experience, as well as communicate a ‘familiar and locally relevant content ratings’.
Today we’re introducing a new age-based rating system for apps and games on Google Play. We know that people in different countries have different ideas about what content is appropriate for kids, teens and adults, so today’s announcement will help developers better label their apps for the right audience.
Developers are being asked to submit the questionnaire for each app they already have or risk having the app being marked as ‘unrated’ and therefore be blocked in certain territories or for specific users.
Google also announced that they have also begun manually reviewing apps submitted to Google Play. The work they said had begun ‘several months ago’. Google has advised that this is to ‘better protect the community and improve the app catalog’. Apps are reviewed to make sure that the Google Developer Policies aren’t violated and will apparently improve app submission times.
An improvement in the process includes Google notifying developers of why an app has been rejected, allowing developers to re-submit after resolving those issues. Google has been criticised heavily previously for being uncontactable regarding apps removal or rejection from Google Play so this should hopefully resolve those issues.
Whether you love the new policies – or hate them, Google Play can no longer be described as the Wild West, it’s a new way of thinking for Google. Google has been reviewing apps for several months now and no-one has really noticed before now, so perhaps it won’t be too bad, only time will tell.