The Google Play store (formerly Android Market) has long been a wild and untamed wilderness. Many lauded the open policies in contrast with Apple’s strict control of their App Store, though this cavalier approach also lead to its own set of problems. Today, Google has taken a few steps to reign in a bit of control, most notably with new Google Play content ratings, and the announcement of an app review process.
The content ratings are a way for developers to ensure that their content is rated appropriately, and apps/games meant for adults aren’t marketed towards children. Google has made it pretty easy for developers to have their apps and games rated.
Starting now, developers can complete a content rating questionnaire for each of their apps and games to receive objective content ratings. Google Play’s new rating system includes official ratings from 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). Territories not covered by a specific ratings authority will display an age-based, generic rating.
This rating process is voluntary for now, with the caveat that apps without a completed questionnaire will be marked as “Unrated” and are subject to be blocked in some areas or for some users. Starting in May, all new apps will be required to fill out the content rating questionnaire before it can be published on Google Play.
The second announcement, which will undoubtedly cause some hand-wringing, tells us that Google will now review all apps prior to publishing on Google Play. This is in order to prevent apps that violate Google’s Developer policies, and provide a better product to consumers. Now, before anybody gets bent out of shape and starts yelling about publishing delays, or Google turning into Apple, etc. this review process has been going on for the last few months, with no discernible delay.
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.
In addition to this new review process, Google has promised to clarify their processes regarding app submissions and status. They want to provide more feedback as to why an app may have been rejected or suspended, allowing a developer to re-submit more quickly after making the necessary adjustments after a policy violation has been found.
All in all, these sound like positive changes to the Play Store. While some will still say this is a bad move, many others have been asking for Google to take these types of steps for quite some time (I mean, how many Flappy Bird clones do we really need?). Keep an eye on your favorite apps to see the content ratings roll out over the next few weeks.
What do you think about Google Play content ratings and an app review process? Let us know in the comments, or on your favorite social media.Source: Android Developers Blog