4 reasons why Google might kick an app off the Play Store
Google’s course teaches developers four things to keep in mind to avoid their app getting suspended from the Play Store.
We have had plenty of examples of Google suspending apps from the Play Store for violating its rules or for being malware-infected. Now, while the latter is not really in the developer's fault, there are things that an app developer can keep in mind so as to avoid their apps from being booted off the store, particularly for WebView spam. Google has given four reasons as to why it suspends a developer's app from the Play Store.
According to ZDNet, Google has analysed developers' compliance with their Google Play Developer Policies and its Developer Distribution Agreement and has highlighted some of the main ways developers end up violating terms and policies, thereby getting kicked off the Play Store.
Apps getting booted off means a lot of trouble for app developers and to help them, Google has outlined “common mistakes” that developers end up making so as they can be avoided and their accounts won't get barred. These pointers have been published under the new Developer Program Policy that came into effect on October 21.
One of the main concerns for Google are apps with buttons and menus that link to pages outside the app store. These links are usually apps by the same developer or apps that are possibly affiliated to the same developer. But these are not clearly labelled as ads or promotional links.
"Without this clarity, apps may get enforced for having deceptive/disguised ads. One of the ways to avoid such mistakes is by explicitly calling these out by labeling the buttons and links as 'More Apps', 'More Games', 'Explore', 'Check out our other apps'," Andrew Ahn, a product manager for Google Play App Safety, warned.
Google is dishing out this advice on the grounds that the company is assuming the most developers are just making mistakes that violate policies rather than actually doing it maliciously.
Ahn added that Google regularly finds developers stuffing keywords into app descriptions to help the app get discovered on its crowded app store. According to Statista, as of September the Play Store has 2.7 million apps, as compared to Google's arsenal, the Apple App Store hosts 1.8 million apps.
The second issue, Google added that text blocks and lists with repetitive descriptions or words that are unrelated to the app also violate Google's Store Listing and Promotion policy.
"Writing a clear app description intended and optimised for user's readability and understanding is one of the best ways to avoid this violation," Ahn explained.
Thirdly, some of the 2.7 million apps that are on the Play Store are “broken” because their developers have “abandoned” them, and this creates issues for Play Store users. Developers also run the risk of violating Google's “minimum function policy” which will affect their developer acount as well as the other apps made by the same developer.
Ahn suggests that to “mitigate the negative impact” on developer reputation and app enforcement, developers can unpublish apps instead of abandoning them.
Finally, Google does not approve of apps that are basically repackaged websites since most of these are just designed to drive traffic to a website rather than give an Android user a reason to actually use an app. Google classifies this as “WebView Spam” and removes them.
WebView lets developers display web content as an app and instead of using this format, developers are recommended to think of how an app can offer something more than what the website can.
To help developers understand the difference between a valuable app and one that just replicates a website, Google has published a 'Webview Spam' course on Play Academy.
This course hopes to teach developers how to align their app behavior with Google Play's policy on WebView spam, how to to differentiate between examples of acceptable and disallowed app behavior related to WebView spam, and also how to avoid instances of WebView spam in apps.