Google had announced yesterday, that over the next couple of weeks, the company would be rolling out age based ratings for apps on its Play Store, so as to make things easier for parents to ascertain which apps would be safe for their children to use. The ratings have already gone live and are now showing for all apps on the Google Play website. The ratings will vary depending on region, as Google has tied up with the International Age Rating Coalition (and its regional affiliates). That means, the regional agencies will award ratings to apps depending on the norms and laws in a particular country or region. Google will publish those ratings on its Play Store depending on the location of the user. Users based in regions not covered by any of Google's partner agencies will get to see a generic, age-based rating. Developers looking to get their apps ratified by Google will have to go through a few simple steps and answer a few questions formulated by the IARC. In the United States, the ratings would follow the exact familiar pattern as those found on boxed software, meaning, five different tiers starting with 'E' for Everyone, denoting suitability for all ages, right up to 'AO' for strictly Adults Only content, suitable only for people aged 18 and above.
Google had announced last April, its intention to make Google Play more family-friendly with the introduction of a developer-facing initiative called "Designed for Families", which now requires app developers to go through the aforementioned questionnaire before their app is considered for a family-friendly rating by the designated agency. Google has also revealed its plans to bring a few more features, which it believes, will make the Play Store even more family-friendly. One of those new features happen to be a button bearing the label "Children's Books", which will allow parents to filter content by their genre, and also by their kids' age. Google has also announced its plans to introduce "family star badges", which will denote the age-appropriateness of a given app, movie or book, to help parents understand for which age group the app is most suitable for. The initiatives from Google are indeed commendable, as the growth in content inappropriate for children have made things harder for guardians of minor kids to sift through every single minute detail before choosing games or other content for their children.