Google updates Google Play policies for better ad experiences and tighter security

On Wednesday, Google announced a number of minor to very important Google Play Store policy changes to Android developers that will take effect in the coming months. The company said all new and existing apps will receive a grace period of at least 30 days from July 27, 2022 (unless otherwise stated) to comply with the changes.

Better interstitial ads experiences (effective September 30, 2022)

The first of the policy changes that will take effect is about how Android developers use interstitial ads in their apps. Google says Android developers may not show ads in the following unexpected ways for users:

  • Full screen interstitial ads of all formats (video, GIF, static, etc.) that show unexpectedly, typically when the user has chosen to do something else, are not allowed. 
    • Ads that appear during game play at the beginning of a level or during the beginning of a content segment are not allowed. 
    • Full screen video interstitial ads that appear before an app’s loading screen (splash screen) are not allowed.
  • Full screen interstitial ads of all formats that are not closeable after 15 seconds are not allowed. Opt-in full screen interstitials or full screen interstitials that do not interrupt users in their actions (for example, after the score screen in a game app) may persist more than 15 seconds.

The company states that this policy does not apply to rewarded ads that are explicitly opted-in by users and to monetization and advertising that does not interfere with normal app use or game play. 

Easier Subscription Cancellation (effective September 30, 2022)

Google also announced that developers must ensure that their apps include easy access to an online method to cancel the subscription. To satisfy this requirement, developers can include a link to Google Play’s Subscription Center or direct access to their cancellation process. 

At the Google I/O developer conference, Google introduced new subscription capabilities, allowing Android developers to sell subscriptions in multiple ways and reduce operating costs by eliminating the need to create and manage an ever-increasing number of SKUs.

Limiting Impersonation (effective August 31, 2022)

Google also warns developers to be careful not to use app icons, descriptions, titles, or in-app elements that could mislead users about their app’s relationship with someone else or another app. 

Apps that falsely claim to be the official app of an established entity, app titles and icons that are so similar to those of existing products or services, and apps whose icons and titles are falsely implying a relationship with another company / developer / entity / organization are some examples of policy violation. 

Flag Secure Requirements (effective November 1, 2022)

Google said all Android apps are required to respect the FLAG_SECURE declaration of other apps by not facilitating or creating workarounds to bypass the FLAG_SECURE settings in other apps.

FLAG_SECURE is a display flag declared in an app’s code to indicate that its UI contains sensitive data intended to be limited to a secure surface while using the app. This flag is designed to prevent the data from appearing in screenshots or from being viewed on non-secure displays. Google said apps that qualify as an Accessibility Tool are exempt from this requirement, as long as they do not transmit, save, or cache FLAG_SECURE protected content for access outside of the user’s device.

Besides these, Google also made some changes in policies regarding VPN apps, alarm apps, apps targeting children and serving ads, health misinformation, and stalerware. You can find all policy changes, their details and requirements here

Written by Sophie Blake

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