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Google Play Store Policy Changes Checklist For App Developers

I last published my apps in Android PlayStore a few years back before it all got removed. Over the weekend I opened up my PlayStore Dev Console to revive these apps to get it back to life on Playstore and I found that Google brought in a lot of changes to the marketplace for apps to adhere to, failing which it will be just removed.

The list below is a ready reference exhaustive checklist to ensure future android app developments take care of these points:

  1. If you got parts of your app restricted based on authentication, memberships etc, you will have to provide instructions on how to access those in the playstore release pages for it to be published and be known publicly. This is a good one for sure as any end user of an app wouldn't like bad surprises post an app installation that hurts their expectations and thus experience.
  2. If your app uses permissions to access sensitive end user information like SMS, call logs, accessibility services etc, you need to fill in a questionnaire that Play Store provides details why you need those permissions.
  3. As app developer you are required to inform the playstore on your app's privacy and security practices for the same to be published in the app's details in the marketplace. This is of paramount importance as for any end user to know how their data is used by the app publisher to address the privacy concerns.
  4. The age old ritual of providing for a privacy policy to your Store Listing apparently to help aid transparency in how an app publisher treats sensitive user and device data.
  5. Declare your app's content suitability for different age group to let know of your target audience age band. I think this is particularly to ensure children are protected from various abuses and threats
  6. Declare your app's content type to help Google classify your app based on its content and comply with the local laws of the country where the apps is to be published. The content could fall in the category like "Financial Services", "User Generated Content", "Games" etc. Post your self-declaration, it will be officially certified by Google rating authorities. This rating is then displayed on Google Play to also help users identify whether your app is suitable for them.
  7. Declare if your app contains ads.  The 'Contains ads' label is shown next to apps with ads on Google Play.
  8. If your app contains advertisements and you are targeting Android 13+, declare your Advertising ID.
  9. Declare if your apps is a News app. Apparently it helps Google to bring in some transparency. What is cooking here??
  10. Declare if your app is Covid-19 contact tracing or status app. I'm not sure why this declaration is mandated.
  11. Google now refrains you from having any text on your App Icon that it sees as violation of "User Ratings, Reviews, and Installs policy". This includes text or images that indicate store performance or ranking, or suggest relations to existing Play programs in the app title, icon, or developer name. My app icon had words "No Ads Ever" and even this got my app rejected from approval to release from Google as it  flagged it as violation. I would dare say this likely contributed to my app going past 5000 installs in a month or two of its release, but this isn't fraud as the use can validate this in the marketplace catalog details just below the app that signals if the app contains ads or not. I find this a crazy policy from Google but then I got to play by their rules and so should you. So beware of your actions!
Warning: If your App gets removed from playstore, it can take up to 7 days for the playstore officials to review it and publish it back again in the marketplace. I am going through this for my personal hobby apps and this is an unpleasant experience. You wouldn't want to go through this for your business apps in particular. So pay attention to Policy change notifications that you get from playstore.