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The Stack Archive

Google ‘experts’ to screen Play apps and updates for explicit and banned material

Wed 18 Mar 2015

Google has announced that it will start an official human-based screening process for all of the apps featured in its Google Play store, in a bid to “better protect the community” and “improve the app catalogue.”

The search giant revealed yesterday that a “team of experts” would be reviewing apps and all updates offered across the Google Play platform for those which violate Google’s developer policies. The team will also give direct feedback to developers on what they need to do in order to fix their apps before they can be listed on the Store. A dedicated review page will allow developers to gain further “insight into why apps were rejected or suspended,” as well as offering them the opportunity to “easily fix and resubmit their apps” for those who have violated minor regulations.

According to Google this human-driven review scheme began “several months ago” and that “no noticeable change” has been felt by developers during its introduction. Yesterday’s statement acts as an official announcement of the new programme.

Similarly since the launch of its App Store, Apple has a human review team which monitors third-party app submissions. However Google Play, originally the Android Market, has been more tolerant only conducting automated malware checks. This often resulted in lower-quality apps and gave rise to security issues.

While Apple’s process takes roughly a week, Google promises that its team will review the apps “within a matter of hours.”

Alongside the announcement of the review team, Google revealed that it would be working with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the Pan-European Game Information (PEGI), and other organisations to assign age-based ratings to apps hosted in the Play Store. Developers are now being asked to log into the Android developer console to respond to a questionnaire about their products so that a rating can be assigned to the app. Although this is an optional process for now, the questionnaires will be mandatory for all new app and update submissions to Google Play from May. Those apps which have not been rated “may be blocked in certain territories or for specific users.”

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