Google Is Cracking Down On Misleading Applications On The Play Store Via A New Set Of Policy Updates

Google has announced a new list of policies meant to be enacted upon by apps on the Play Store. The measures are an attempt to weed out misleading apps that might cause their users harm.

The first of these policy updates entails the displaying of app metadata. App metadata is the information that users rely on to make a first impression of the product that they're choosing to install. Details such as an application's title, its display icon, and developer name(s) all fall under this heading. As such, not only does the abuse of metadata by developers lead to the misleading of the Play Store's users, it also leaves them completely open to phishing attacks by accidentally sharing personal data with apps that seem friendly on the surface. Naturally, Google's rather opposed to any such developers on their platform, and that's where the metadata policy comes in.

The policy involves three overall regulations that developers must now strictly adhere to. The first is limiting the length of application titles to 30 characters. This restricts more boastful and inclusive titles, forcing developers to maintain a more truthful and limited vocabulary in naming their own work. The second regulation entails the prohibition of specific keywords that actively promote the application at hand, or at least leave the implication of its superior functionality. These keywords also extend to praising the developers of a product. The final regulation concerns app icon designs. Particularly, misleading designs that imply something more than an app's actual function are not allowed, and will accordingly not be approved for the App Store.

The second set of guidelines concern preview assets. These include supplementary media that can display an app's functionality. Examples include screenshots, videos, and descriptions of the application, and they're often found when scrolling down on an application's designated Play Store page. 4 guidelines are set up to govern app store selection for future reference. The first asks whether or not assets accurately represent the app. The second question whether or not all supplementary media provides an accurate enough estimate of an app's functionality to provide users with a clearer picture. The third concerns the use of buzzwords in app descriptions, and whether or not their use covers up a lack of actual explanation. The final guideline addresses legibility and proper localization of an app's description, eliminating any misleading information, intentional or not.

These new policies are expected to be implemented later this year, with no set deadline ahead. All relevant information can also be accessed via the Android developers blog, where all policy changes are both explained and justified.

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