The Google Play Store is the main hub for Android apps, but spend a few minutes on it and you can easily stumble across malicious apps containing adware or worse. It looks like Google is making it harder for this kind of software to slip through its nets, however, with news that its app approval process will take a lot longer.
This news comes courtesy of a blog post from Choice of Games, a prolific app developer with over 100 apps on Google Play Store, which says that new apps submitted via the Android developer interface now face a three-day approval time, which is a significant increase on previous apps, which were often approved within a day.
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Choice of Games' blog post points to an Android developer support page, which confirms that “for certain developer accounts, we’ll take more time to thoroughly review your app(s) to help better protect users. You’ll receive a notification on your app's Dashboard about how long this should take.”
It's not clear what 'certain developer accounts' means, although presumably it's dependent on the developer's popularity and trust – but since Choice of Games, who have many games, are still seeing this wait period, it seems that the bar would be pretty high.
We've reached out to Google for clarification on this point, and will update this article if and when we hear back.
This news has split Android fans – while it should make users safer, it gives Android developers a big hurdle to overcome.
How does this affect Google Play Store users?
Good news for Google Play Store users, is that this change should make downloading apps on the service a lot safer. While the majority of the platform is safe to download from, a small but dangerous number of apps still slip through the cracks on a regular basis.
There's still an abundance of adware apps and stalker apps on the Google Play Store, as well as apps that can steal your data or details in a range of ways (although in the era of Facebook and other big data companies, does anyone care any more?).
If the Google Play Store screening process now takes a lot longer, it means Google is taking the time to do its due diligence and make sure apps that are posted aren't going to put users at risk.
How does this affect Android developers?
Some Android developers have hit back at the news, however, for one valid reason – Google didn't announce this change.
Many app developers work on specific deadlines and schedules like, for example, Choice of Games with its 100-strong Google Play Store collection. However the Android app platform only lets developers know of the three-day approval time change once they've submitted the app.
This means many users who were expecting their app to be up in a day are going to have their schedules thrown into disarray. This could be a problem for big companies which use deadlines for financial and workflow reasons, and a huge issue for indie developers that rely on their apps' success as their source of income.
Google probably should have communicated with developers better to let them know of this change – but in the long run it's better for developers and app users.