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Google To begin Manually Reviewing Apps in the Play Store, The Way Apple’s Been doing it for years

March 17, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Today, Google had a few announcements for us on the Google Play front. One of them, and probably the most interesting one, is the fact that Google will begin manually reviewing apps as part of the Android App submission process. This is something that Apple has done from the very beginning. And is also why you don’t see any apps in the Apple App Store with the word “Android” in them. Google is betting that by doing manual reviews of each app, it will cut down on malicious apps. Which have seemingly been growing in recent years and targeting the Android platform. Likely due to the fact that Android does cover about 80% or more of the smartphone world.

Re/Code spoke with Google Play’s business development director Purnima Kochikar who stated, “We are able to do these reviews in a matter of hours. We are catching offenders early without adding friction.” Which is great for the end user that might be worried about downloading a malicious app that may take their data, or even give their phone a virus.

The second announcement from Google Play today is in regards to their ratings. They are adopting a global age-based rating system for Google Play. This is going to help developers better label their apps for the right audience. This is going to give developers an easy way to communicate familiar and locally relevant content ratings to their users and help improve app discovery as well. As of today, developers can complete a content rating questionnaire for each of their apps and games to receive objective content ratings. In the questionnaire, developers must also declare whether they are collecting users data or not and will be sharing that data. The Play Store’s new rating system includes official ratings from the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) and it’s participating bodies which include the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), Pan-European Game information (PEGI), Australian Classification Board, Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) and Classifica§£o Indicativa (ClassInd). Google also states that territories not covered by a specific ratings authority will display an age-based generic rating.

According to Google, this process will be quick, automated and free to developers. They also noted that in the coming weeks consumers worldwide will begin to see these new ratings in their local markets. Google is also urging developers to login to the Developer Console now and complete the new rating questionnaire  for each of their apps. They also warn that apps that do not get a completed questionnaire will be marked as “Unrated” and thus may be blocked in certain territories or for specific users. Starting in May 2015, all new apps and updates to existing apps will require a completed questionnaire before they will be published on Google Play.

A couple of big announcements here from Google Play this morning. You can check out the full announcement from their blog.