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Google Play is Copying Apple’s App Store, and Why That’s a Good Thing

Google Play Apps

Since their inception, Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store have taken diametrically opposed positions when it comes to policing the content allowed into their respective online marketplaces. Whereas Apple, in natural fashion, reviews every single app submitted, Google has historically taken a more lax position, creating an open digital playground of sorts and opting to address issues after they arise as opposed to before.

Initially, this strategy helped position the Google Play store as a more accommodating and developer-friendly marketplace. All the more so given Apple’s penchant for rejecting apps for seemingly arbitrary and contradictory reasons.

Over time, though, Google has slowly but surely started to see the wisdom in Apple’s approach. While Google still takes a relatively hands-off approach to submitted apps, a recently updated version of its Google Play Developer Program Policies demonstrates that Google sees the merit in having stricter governing rules in place.

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According to Betanews, Google is now “clamping down on the problem of impersonation, making it clearer that it is not permissible to mislead users by imitating other apps, making false claims, or suggesting endorsements that do not exist.”

Additionally, Google’s updated developer policy now includes a “Sensitive Events” section which bans hastily crafted apps designed to exploit natural disasters, death, and otherwise tragic news events.

The section reads in part: “We don’t allow content which may be deemed as capitalizing on or lacking reasonable sensitivity towards a natural disaster, atrocity, conflict, death, or other tragic event.”

An updated section on Deceptive Behavior reads:

Don’t pretend to be someone else, and don’t represent that your app is authorized by or produced by another company or organization if that is not the case. Products must provide accurate disclosure of their functionality and should perform as reasonably expected by the user.

  • Products or the ads they contain must not mimic functionality or warnings from the operating system or other apps
  • Products must not contain false or misleading information or claims in any content, title, icon, description, or screenshots
  • Developers must not divert users or provide links to any other site that mimics or passes itself off as another app or service
  • Apps must not have names or icons that appear confusingly similar to existing products, or to apps supplied with the device (such as Camera, Gallery or Messaging).

Additionally, Google’s revamped developer guidelines also include stricter rules regarding the transfer of in-app currencies.

All together, these revamped Google Play guidelines underscore Google’s more pro-active approach in policing the content it allows into the Google Play store. This type of approach can only improve the overall user experience for Google Play users. And while Apple’s approach may admittedly be heavy-handed, Google is seemingly coming around to the fact that a little bit of policing is a good thing.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.