Google Play updates policy against annoying ads, more

Google just released new policy updates for Play Store developers, and the new rules target misinformation, impersonation, and annoying game ads…among other things.

Google Play’s updated developer program policies release updates to some existing policies, including a requirement that subscription apps provide users with a way to “cancel their subscriptions easily from within the app” — effective September 30, 2022. Google requires also by November 1, 2022 that “all legitimate monitoring applications” use the “IsMonitoringTool” flag and make the functionality public in their Play Store listing.

Beyond that, there are a few significant changes that will impact the overall cleanliness of the Play Store, as well as the end-user experience.

One of the new policies – effective September 30, 2022 – targets ads in mobile games distributed through the Play Store. Full screen ads are banned if they cannot be closed after 15 seconds. The only exception to that rule is ads that unlock in-game rewards as long as the ad is logged in. Google Play also bans “unexpected interstitial ads” – these are ads that appear in games before the loading screen opens or when a new level is started. Google says this change was inspired by the Coalition for Better Ads and applies to both games and regular apps, although we suspect it’s most common in games.

Google shared an example of what this might look like with TechCrunch and The edge.

Google is also cracking down on VPN apps, blocking apps that use the “VPNService” class to track user data or redirect traffic to monetize ads. To be since then pointed out The only app that may be affected by this change is DuckDuckGo’s “App Tracking Protection” app. The change will take effect in about a month, on August 31.

Copycat apps are also targeted, with “imitation” apps that use logos, designs, or titles to imply a connection to another app, company, or entity. Medical misinformation is also being targeted, with apps containing “misleading health claims that contradict existing medical consensus, or that could cause harm” will be banned. Both policies also come into effect on August 31.

You can check out all of Google’s new developer policy updates here.

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