Google announced a couple of updates for Google Play, which will affect both developers and users. There's a new content rating system as well as a new app review process.
The content rating system is based on age, and applies to both apps and games. According to the company, it will help developers communicate "familiar and locally relevant" content ratings to users while also helping to improve app discovery.
"We know that people in different countries have different ideas about what content is appropriate for kids, teens and adults, so today’s announcement will help developers better label their apps for the right audience," says product manager Eunice Kim.
Developers can fill out a rating questionnaire for their apps and games, and they'll get an "objective" content rating. It will be interesting to see if this actually hurts some apps. Just ask filmmakers how they feel about the MPAA rating system. If a developer doesn't immediately complete the questionnaire, their apps will be listed as unrated, and that can lead to them being blocked some places and for some users. Beginning in May, all apps and updates of existing apps will require the questionnaire be completed to be published on Google Play.
"Google Play’s new rating system includes official ratings from the International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) and its participating bodies, including the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), Pan-European Game Information (PEGI), Australian Classification Board, Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) and Classificação Indicativa (ClassInd)," Kim explains. "Territories not covered by a specific ratings authority will display an age-based, generic rating. The process is quick, automated and free to developers. In the coming weeks, consumers worldwide will begin to see these new ratings in their local markets."
To complete the questionnaire, just sign into the Developer Console.
Regarding the app review process, Google started reviewing them before they're published on Google Play a few months ago. The company says this is a better way to protect users and improve its catalog. Google has a team of "experts," who spot violations of Android's developer policies earlier on.
"We value the rapid innovation and iteration that is unique to Google Play, and will continue to help developers get their products to market within a matter of hours after submission, rather than days or weeks," says Kim. "In fact, there has been no noticeable change for developers during the rollout."
Google has now added improvements to how it handles publishing status, so developers can better see why apps are rejected or suspended, and can take care of the issues and resubmit. This goes for "minor" policy violations, Google says.
The company claims it has paid over $7 billion to developers.
Last month, Google announced paid search results on Google Play, which will definitely help with app discovery (while giving the company another revenue stream). Of course this only available to a limited set of users from a pilot group of advertisers for the time being. It remains to be seen if and when (most likely when) this will become available on a broader scale.
Image via Google