Google announces many changes to its store policies to reduce fraud, spoofing, ads, spy apps and more

Google has to adjust Google Play developer policies from time to time to adapt to new market circumstances and changes in permissions that are included in each new version of Android. The company has now announced a lot of news in your Google Play policies.

Some of the innovations are clarifications of existing policies, while others are aimed at set limits and prevent abuse. The changes cover permission usage, ad abuse, VPN service usage, misinformation, phishing, subscriptions, and more.

Accurate alarm, for clocks and calendars

Alarm

Google is putting some order in the permissions, something evident with the multitude of changes that have been introduced in Android 13. One of these new permissions is USE_EXACT_ALARMavailable since Android 13, and Google wants to make sure that be used exclusively for what it was designed for: alarms.

This way you can know which apps you use that are outdated and will not be able to be downloaded from Google Play soon

Google will only allow applications in its store that use this permission if your main function requires the use of exact alarms, such as a clock app. In all other cases, such as apps that display notifications that the user can or cannot use, they should continue to use the permission instead. SCHEDULE_EXACT_ALARMwhich works similarly but needs to be granted by the user.

Health disinformation prohibited

covid

Google has included a clarification in its policy to make it clear that they do not allow applications on Google Play that contain misleading health claimsthat contradict existing medical consensus or that may cause harm to users.

Some examples Google cites are apps that include misleading claims about vaccines, such as modifying a person’s DNA, promoting harmful or unapproved health treatments, and the like. This policy is effective as of August 31.

Impersonation: no thanks

deceive

On the same August 31, some clarifications about Google Play’s identity theft policy, which was already in force, without much success, everything is said, come into force. Google has seen fit to clarify that apps that impersonate other entities or organizationsand added some additional examples to illustrate it.

The rule is clear “do not suggest that your app is related or authorized when it is not”, and this applies to the name, icon, description or any other element. The policy also prevents an application from use an icon very similar to those of other popular applications. Google gives us examples of apps that include the Bitcoin logo or that include a cartoon character in their icon: without official authorization, none have a place on Google Play.

VPNService is for the VPN

vpn

There are also changes to applications that use the VPNService class to create a secure connection to a remote server. They must be apps with a core VPN functionalitywith a few exceptions: parental control apps, which are used to record the use of apps, security apps such as antivirus or firewall, remote access apps, web browsers or operator apps that need VPN for their services.

Any other use has no place within Google Play from November 1, but Google has wanted to specifically clarify some uses that are not allowed: using VPN to collect information without consent, redirect monetization traffic or manipulate ads. Apps that use the VPNService must document their use in the Google Play listing and encrypt the data.

No more ads out of the blue

Ad

It has happened to all of us: playing or using a mobile application and suddenly an ad appears full screen out of the blue, and that there seems to be no humane way to stop. Google clarifies types of ads that are not allowed on Google Play: full-screen ads that appear out of nowhere.

Ads are also not allowed make you wait 15 seconds, if they appear “out of nowhere”. That is, they are allowed if they do not interrupt the user (for example, they are shown at the end of a level) or if they are part of a reward to unlock something in an app or game.

subscriptions

Susc

Google has been fighting abuses in subscriptions for some time and now wants make it easier to unsubscribe from a subscriptionfrom the application itself and without having to navigate through the Google Play menus.

Applications that include subscriptions must clearly show the user how to manage and cancel their subscriptions, adding an easy method of unsubscribing, for example in your settings. This policy goes into effect on September 30.

Monitor, yes. spy, not

family

Google Play allows monitoring applications, but not spying. Applications that collect personal information from users and transmit it to a third party must display it prominently and obtain permission according to the data use policy.

These types of apps are allowed for parental control or professional use, but it is allowed to use them to, for example, spy on your partner. Applications of this type cannot hide their function, they must show a permanent notification indicating that the app is in use and, above all, must not have the objective of spying on someone without their knowledge. These types of apps need to include special metadata that identifies them as a monitoring app, starting on November 1.

Forbidden to bypass FLAG_SECURE

I don't know

Finally, Google does not want in its store applications whose objective is to skip FLAG_SECUREthe system used by some applications to prevent you from taking screenshotswhich appear in black.

The apps with accessibility permission they can still “see” the content of these protected applications, which is useful for users of this type of app, but Google does not allow apps whose purpose is only this. That is, an accessibility app that does it as part of its function, yes; an app whose purpose is solely this, no.

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