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An insight into Google Play submission guidelinesA little over a year ago, there was nothing easier than to publish an Android application. As a result, Google Play was stuffed with low-quality mobile software and had to delete non-compliant apps on a regular basis. In order to keep up with the high standards set by Apple, the company introduced the manual review process & rating system based on apps’ age and official ranking from Entertainment Software Rating Board (US) and Pan-European Game Information (EU). However, the Google Play approval process still takes 4-5 hours on average (compared to 4-6 days on the App Store). You can distribute Android apps via Google Play or an independent store. For example, China (the largest mobile game market in the world) has approximately 250 publishers. Even if you partner with a large company like D.cn (sells the Angry Birds freemium app on behalf of Rovio), working with Google Play is still the quickest (and safest!) way to make your app available to a larger audience (don’t forget about fixed transaction fees, too). OK, what Android apps usually get the green light?
Android app requirements: functionality
- Are written in Java, use Android APIs and XML for layouts. Android apps can also be created with Corona SDK (the LUA programming language), PhoneGap, Titanium, Gamesalad and HTML 5;
- Do not exceed the size limit of 100 MB (If your application contains high-resolution graphics, your vendor can enable extra storage through Expansion files. Still, you’ll have to host & serve additional data yourself);
- Use the whole screen in landscape and portrait orientations & handle rapid transitions between them correctly;
- Do not crash, “freeze” or behave abnormally in any other way;
- Display text and images without blurring, distortion and pixelation;
- Do not play audio behind the locked screen (unless it’s a music player application);
- Load fast/notify users if the process takes longer than 2 seconds;
- Do not meet the basic functionality requirements/are considered “beta”.
Google Play content submission guidelines
- Have clear description (with no references to third-party publishers and services);
- Do not promote sexually explicit content (including pornography, user-generated sexual content and promotional images of sex toys). The store also prohibits online gambling, child abuse, bullying and harassment. Apps that feature controversial content must have appropriate ratings;
- Do not infringe intellectual property rights. In case you have permission to use names, images and other intellectual property owned by another company, you should inform Google Play about it prior to app submission.
- Do not encourage users to illegally stream/download music, videos and books. In 2014, Google Play suspended Vibe Vault – a free application which allowed users to stream, download and share files from Live Music Archive. Although the store cited “violation of the spam provision” as the reason for removal, the actual problem might’ve been the core function of the service, since the app didn’t employ any ads or notifications;
- Do not promote violence, alcohol and drug usage. In 2015, Google rejected the Postal app – a mobile game where you play as a dangerous lunatic who runs around the streets killing people. The app was submitted to Google Play right after the new approval process had been introduced and obviously didn’t meet the requirements. However, the vendor decided to leave the game as it is and try his luck with other publishers.
Here’s what you can sell via an Android application:
- Virtual game products (like artefacts, currency and levels; in-app currency can only be used within an application);
- Content and enhanced functionality (like “Remove Ads” option);
- Digital content available on subscription basis (steaming music and videos; e-books; digital publications with/without a physical copy);
- Cloud services and applications (extended storage; business productivity and finance management software).
In-app Billing does not support:
- Retail merchandise (groceries, clothes and electronics);
- Service fees (like taxi, cleaning services, food delivery);
- One-time membership fees (loyalty programs, gym membership, etc.);
- One-time payments (including donations);
- Electronic bill payments.
App Promotion PolicyThe store rejects mobile applications that:
- Use ads resembling system alerts and notifications;
- Redirect users to Google Play or download other apps without user consent;
- Promote goods/services/mobile software through SMS.
- High maturity (for example, apps that refer to or focused on drug, alcohol and tobacco consumption);
- Medium maturity (mobile apps that simulate gambling or feature gambling themes);
- Low maturity (software that accesses user location data);
- Everyone (no controversial content).