Google has faced a lot of criticism recently in relation to how they operate the Play Store and especially in terms of IAPs (In-App Purchases). Only a matter of weeks ago Google conceded defeat in a complaint brought against them by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The complaint related to accusations dating as far back as 2011 that the Play Store was at fault for not ensuring children were sufficiently prohibited from purchasing IAPs without their parents’ permission. This particular omission from Google is now costing them (a minimum) of $19 million which has to be refunded back to parents who claim they did not permit their children to buy IAPs.
Since then it seems Google are making big moves to tighten up how the Play Store operates and how developers list their apps. Only yesterday it was reported Google are planning to implement a new developer address policy. In short this policy will mean all app developers will have to list a physical address on the Play Store which will be linked to all their apps. In fairness this policy will only be implemented for apps which are paid-for or contain IAPs. Either way, with a large number of apps developed by indie developers they are not too happy about having to list a private address in such a public manner.
In another twist, it now seems as well as listing app developer’s addresses publically Google also intend to list the cost of IAPs on the Play Store for consumers to see before they purchase. This new snippet relates to an email response from Google Support to an app developer who contacted Google for further clarification on the address issue and subsequently published the Google response in full on Reddit. Now it is not clear if exact pricing will be in effect as the statement only refers to a ‘price range’ for apps “We will display the price ranges for apps that offer in-app purchases and/or subscriptions on the app’s store listing page“. To be fair this is quite good news for consumers as it will provide users with the ability to see how much an app will likely cost overall and not just on the outset. Everyone by now has probably learned the lesson that a ‘free app’ is not always free. So this is good news and this will help to advise consumers better. However, it will be interesting to see how developers take this. Will they be happy with their ‘hidden’ prices being publically displayed? This combined with the new address policy might actually start to make developers feel they are being rather unfairly punished. According to the Google email they are simply trying to provide a service in accordance with “consumer protection laws and current best-practices“. If you are a developer than it is worth noting both of these policies are due to be implemented September 30th. So not long to wait to see what this will all mean.