App stores such as the Google Play Store and Apple App Store are now required by EU law to treat developers more fairly. That's based on a new set of regulations introduced last year but reportedly going into effect as of July 12.
With the new rules in place, Google, Apple, and other distributors will need to be more transparent. In some cases, the new regulation may also force distributors to reconsider terms found in developer contracts. Involved companies have effectively had a year to put changes in place for compliance. And they'll now face stiff consequences for any compliance failures.
Precisely how this new EU regulation impacts app stores and developers is fairly straightforward. For starters, developers will now receive 30-day advance notice if their apps are going to be removed. That way, developers have time to either address concerns or lodge a complaint about the removal. The sole exception to that, helping protect users, is apps that are malicious, infringe on copyrights, or are illegal.
Of course, that notice also needs to specify exactly why the app is in danger of being removed too.
The EU regulations go a long way to protect app developers
The terms and conditions set by contracts signed by developers need to be detailed in advance too. Developers need to be given a 15-day notice, to be exact. And that's in addition to requirements that distributors rework contracts for clarity. Those now need to be in "plain" language that's easy for non-legal-experts to understand.
Finally, app stores operating in the EU also need to be more transparent about pretty much everything. That starts with transparency with regard to whether any apps or developers are receiving preferential treatment. That has to be disclosed by the distributor for all to see. And a similar requirement is now in place for rankings too.
More specifically, companies like Google and Apple will need to clearly define their ranking algorithms. Those are the methods utilized to define "top" apps. Further regulation is expected that will remove the need for developers to optimize their listings for ranking in the future as well.
Finally, platforms such as the Google Play Store will now be required to be more transparent on data collection. More succinctly, they'll need to disclose what data they access — both personal and non-personal — as well as what data they're collecting.
Not all app markets are included here
Now, there are some platforms for apps that will be entirely out of the protections as they stand in current regulation. That's because the rules only apply to a narrowly defined group of distributors. Namely, those are distributors that act as a middle-man in transactions between customers and developers.
So the Google Play Store and Apple App Store are included. But Google Play Pass, Apple Arcade, and console-makers will largely be excluded.