Sunday, October 24, 2021

Google follows in Apple’s footsteps by filtering its Play Store


Google is cracking down on the apps published to the Play Store.

An updated version of the company’s Developer Policy, released this week, indicates the company will now ban a wider variety of apps including cryptocurrency miners, those selling firearms and accessories, those that aim to trick children into downloading adult-themed apps, and apps built using automated tools or wizard services, or based on templates.

The latter move is especially interesting, as Apple did something similar last December that resulted in developer backlash, controversy, and even a US Congressman reaching out to Apple to clarify its intent and reconsider its policy.

While it’s true that apps made with templates and wizards lead to spam apps and App Store clutter, several developers felt Apple, with its blanket ban, was wiping out small businesses from being able to participate in the App Store.

The issue at hand was the fact that many smaller businesses, nonprofits and other organizations used an app templating service to create their own app.

For example, templates and wizards were often used by local restaurants, schools, clubs, and other small businesses that couldn’t invest in the design and development of their own apps.

As a result of the backlash, Apple revised its policy so it only impacted developers attempting to spam the App Store with multiple copies of a certain type of app. Instead of banning all templated apps, Apple’s new policy said that apps built using templates would be allowed if they were submitted by the provider of the app’s content.

That is, if the local pizza place wanted its own app, it could submit its templated-built app itself.

Google clearly made a point not to make the same mistake with its own policy changes.

Its new policy clarifies the ban affects only:

Another Google Play policy change bans apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices something that could make it easier for Google Play to directly kick out apps that market themselves as something else, then mine on the sly without user’s consent.

This follows a Google’s ban of mining apps from the Chrome Store this spring, due to a number of sketchy extensions that were misleading users.

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