Google’s Play Store Changes Policy Over Full-Screen Ads

Google is working to reduce the amount of obnoxious, skippable advertisements in Android apps and other inappropriate behavior generally in the Play Store (via TechCrunch). On Wednesday, the business unveiled extensive policy updates that tighten up loopholes that developers may have exploited to get around existing regulations. The updates update laws across multiple categories to be more precise.

The use of adverts on phones is one of the things that will have the most influence on your normal phone usage. The company claims that its revised policies, which took effect on September 30th, assist in “ensuring high-quality experiences for users when they are using Google Play apps.” A full-screen advertisement that won’t let you close it after 15 seconds is prohibited by the new policy, according to developers’ instructions. There are a few exceptions; those guidelines might not always be applicable if you deliberately decide to watch an advertisement in order to earn reward points or if they appear during a scene break.

Advertising “must be easily dismissible without penalty,” and users must be able to exit full-screen ads, according to Google’s current policy, but the standard of 15 seconds is new. Even while there will still be a slight delay, you won’t have to watch a two-minute advertisement where the (small, difficult to see) “x” only appears after 70 seconds, in the middle of a game, or while attempting to complete another task.

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The new regulations also state that advertisements shouldn’t appear “unexpectedly,” such as straight after you load a level or article. Again, the present regulations prohibit surprise disruptive advertisements, but the new regulations provide more specific instances of infringement.

It’s important to note that kid-friendly apps have stricter ad regulations. Despite the fact that Google isn’t making many changes to the kinds of advertisements that developers can show to children, it will begin making some adjustments to the tools that developers use to deliver such advertisements in November.

The built-in VPN (virtual private network) features for Android are being modified by Google in other ways as well. Apps won’t be permitted to set up their own VPNs to collect user data unless the user expressly consents to it, nor will they be permitted to use VPNs to assist users in avoiding or changing advertising from other apps. Mishaal Rahman, a technical editor for Esper, noted on Twitter that this could help crack down on ad fraud, in which users pose as being in one country while actually being in another by clicking on advertisements. However, she warns that it may also have an impact on things like DuckDuckGo’s privacy-focused app tracking protection.

Several further adjustments are also part of Google’s new policies. If an app sells subscriptions, for instance, developers will be forced to link to an “easy-to-use, online option” for canceling subscriptions in the app – the firm does state that linking to Google Play’s subscription center counts. Google is also cracking down on false information about health, adding a section that states that applications can’t give false information about immunizations, therapies that haven’t been licensed, or “other hazardous health practices, such as conversion therapy.”

The update also modifies the terminology used to describe monitoring apps, or “stalker was,” stating that any app designed to follow individuals must utilize a specific flag informing Google of what it is doing and that apps must state in their Play Store description that they can monitor or track you. Google expressly states that using these apps to track someone else, such as a spouse, is prohibited, even if the user claims the person being tracked is aware of it. (These kinds of apps are still only authorized to track employees and children.)

The amended “Impersonation” section contains one amusing nugget: in addition to other businesses, developers, and organizations, Google’s new guidelines state that developers cannot attempt to mislead users into believing their app is connected to an “entity” if it is not. Google provides an app with iconography that could lead people to believe it is connected to a government initiative or cryptocurrency project as an illustration of what this entails. (There’s a humorous section that says you can’t call your app “Justin Bieber Official” unless you are Justin Bieber or have his approval, but that was already stated in the rules.)

In this case, Google seems to have timed everything perfectly. Even though the policy isn’t set to take effect until the end of August, the business made the announcement the day before Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wrote the company requesting additional information about dubious cryptocurrency apps available on the Play Store.

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