With more than 2.5 million downloads to choose from on Google Play, the official Android app store, it’s no surprise that developers are doing everything they can to stay ahead of the competition. But as anyone who browses the store will understand, the result is not a particularly pleasant experience with all the caps, emoticons and superlatives strewn everywhere.
It seems that Google finally has enough and intervenes to make the Play Store a quieter place to surf. The company has published new guidelines on the Android Developers blog with plans to implement the new policy “later this year.”
The blog post uses the example of a fictional travel planning application called Crane, and gives several examples of what is and what is not allowed to move forward. For reference, this is Google̵
So what are the developers doing right now? One big no-no are apps that try to hint at Google’s popularity or endorsement in the listings, whether in the title, company name, or app icon. Something like this:
Another popular trick to get attention is for developers to try to include promotional information in their lists. Adding pricing information, mentioning no ads, or highlighting sales will not be allowed, as shown by this fake list, which mysteriously manages to be both free and on sale, but you understand the idea.
Then there are apps that use the list and icon to stimulate downloads or, worse, trick users into thinking they’re updating an app they already own. This is well demonstrated here, where Crane has both “update now” text and a small notification icon.
Finally, Google Play prohibits the use of emoticons, special characters that are “irrelevant to the application,” and lowercase letters (with a special layout if the brand name is capitalized.) This means the end of lists like this:
In addition to these rules, Google says app titles will be limited to 30 characters, presumably to prevent keywords from filling in and make lists generally more readable.
However, the blog post also reveals that Google is updating its visualization asset guidelines. Graphics, videos, and descriptions will need to “accurately represent” applications and games, while providing users with enough information without using words like “free” or “best.”
Unlike the title and icon policy, Google does not offer non-compliant apps to be blocked by the store, but states that “assets that do not meet our guidelines may not be eligible for promotion and referrals.” , which should be enough of a threat to ensure compliance by ambitious developers. This change will take effect in the second half of 2021.