Reviews of apps submitted to the Google Play Store will be taking longer in the wake of workplace schedule adjustments brought on by the coronavirus. That's based on a widely reported warning message that app developers are now receiving. Specifically, the longer review period applies to manual app reviews. But that doesn't mean it only applies to new apps. It may also apply to other apps where permissions or other factors warrant a more hands-on review.
In terms of the length of the new review period, Google says developers should expect those to take seven days or longer. That's as opposed to previous guidance which set the typical review period at around three to seven days.
The change appears to be directly related to Google's response to the spread of coronavirus. Last week, the search giant told its North American staff to start working from home. That's a policy that's slowly spread out to include more workers.
In a statement released by Google pertaining to the delayed Play Store reviews process, a spokesperson for the company has said that the change is due to "adjusted work schedules" while the "situation" continues to evolve. The delay times stemming from that will continue to fluctuate.
Delayed reviews processes are changing across more than just the Play Store
The Google Play Store isn't the only search giant-related product to suffer from delays and review changes either. As recently as Monday, YouTube began giving content creators a heads up about reviews on its video streaming platform. More directly, those reviews will now likely be somewhat less accurate than before.
That's because YouTube has taken steps to fully automate the review process for content submissions using machine learning. Prior to the change, reviews were conducted by machine learning alongside a manual review. The manual reviews served not only to make the machine learning AI algorithms better in terms of finding policy breaking content and removing it. It also served to check for any discrepancies in that process itself.
Since the reviews won't have the benefit of human oversight, there's arguably a higher likeliness that some videos will be removed that didn't need to be. Conversely, others may remain up that should be taken down based on the platform's policies. Appeals for policy enforcements will likely take much longer now too because of the company's significantly diminished workforce.
How long will this continue?
Google's work from home policy regarding its workers is presently set to carry over until at least April 10. So it isn't unlikely that delays to its Play Store app submission and update reviews will carry on until at least then — depending on what happens with the still-developing coronavirus situation in the US.
With that said, the search giant hasn't set a timeline regarding when the delays will end either. The spread of coronavirus doesn't adhere to a given timeline and neither does any potential solution. So any uncertainty regarding a return to more normal review processes is not necessarily surprising. That's almost certainly going to apply to the Google Play Store and any other services associated with Google.