Thanks to a change recently made to Google Play behind the scenes, finding specific types of apps could get a lot easier in the near future. That's because developers are reportedly beginning to gain a significant amount of control over exactly how their apps are categorized on the storefront.
Spotted by 9t05Google, the change has been appearing widely for app developers over the past week and lets developers add tags to their Google Play Store listings. Google has 150 searchable tags to choose from and will present developers with suggestions right off the bat. That's in addition to "app category" options which will remain available for general categorization.
The addition of tags is intended to help surface apps that are relevant to end-users in the Google Play Store. Specifically, Google says tags should be chosen which make it 'clear' to users why the app is relevant to them.
How could this benefit or hurt Google Play users?
For end-users, the change should result in better overall suggestions from the Play Store. As always, that will be based on previous activity on the storefront such as purchases and searches. The suggestions will likely continue being compared against the apps used by others who have made similar purchases or searches.
In effect, Google's change will help narrow down which apps have been downloaded and enjoyed into deeper categories. Those will narrow down suggestions for users too, arguably making them more useful and pertinent.
Conversely, this could make it easier for bad actors to negatively impact users too. More succinctly, a certain level of risk can be assessed from the general practices and methods already used by bad actors.
For example, there's a chance that some malicious entities might choose to use that categorization to fool users into thinking the app does something it doesn't. Directly tied to the tactic, malicious developers could lead to users inadvertently allowing certain permissions they might not otherwise enable based on how the app is categorized.
Google undoubtedly has some safeguards in place to ensure a minimal impact on the latter front. Regardless, it may be a good idea to pay closer attention to permissions going forward.
This could as easily hurt developer
While the newest alteration to how apps are categorized will obviously benefit users, there's a good chance it could ultimately harm visibility for some developers.
The former of those is arguably the more obvious of the potential issues. It stems directly from the fact that Google is putting more control in developers hands. So apps might incidentally get categorized outside of categories they might perform better in.
For more complex apps, the risk of doing that is higher since more tags are likely to be applicable. That's tied in with the fact that there appear are limits on how many primary tags can be chosen. Google's notes suggest developers focus on just five that are most relevant to their app.
The tags will change which developers and apps a given upload to the store is competing against, Google says. That could be great for developers with search engine optimization experience. The change may also inadvertently give newer or inexperienced developers a disadvantage based on that.