Android apps are now being reviewed by humans before going live in the Play Store, a reversal of a previously laissez-faire approach that contrasted sharply with Apple.
Google says on its Android Developers Blog it’s already begun performing the internal app reviews before Monday’s announcement. By doing so the company is trying to convince developers that since no one noticed any delay, they shouldn't be concerned going forward.
The blog post promises app reviews will be processed “within a matter of hours after submission, rather than days or weeks.” You can catch a subtle dig at Apple’s App Store, which is notorious for lengthy delays when reviewing apps.
The story behind the story: When Android was first gaining traction as a viable competitor to the iPhone, one of its hallmark features was its openness—developers could publish apps immediately and with wide autonomy. However, that led to a lot of copyright issues and a litany of age-inappropriate selections.
Given that Google just paid out $7 billion to developers and is looking for a more family-friendly approach with YouTube for Kids, it needs tighter reign on its app storefront.
New ratings and developer rules
Developers are instructed in an email from Google Play to fill out a questionnaire for each of their apps to assist in assigning a rating. They’ll only need to repeat this process if an app update changes the content. Any apps that don’t get a rating could soon disappear from the Play Store in certain countries or territories.
The ratings are the same ones used by the International Age Ratings Coalition, which works with regional ratings boards like the ESRB and PEGI to deliver region-appropriate ratings.
The developer console also now has some tweaks designed to give developers a better idea as to why an app may have been rejected or removed from the Play Store. Google promises developers can now “easily fix” any issues rapidly with the more detailed instructions.
The new ratings will start showing up in the next few weeks, giving Google and developers time to label the existing catalogue of apps.