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Google Tightens App Testing Rules for New Android Developers

Google has announced forthcoming policy changes impacting new Android developers using personal Play Console accounts, requiring rigorous app testing with a minimum of 20 individuals for at least two weeks before publication. This move, aimed at enhancing app quality, is coupled with increased investment in app review processes, with Google warning of potential approval delays for certain apps during this transition.

Emphasizing the efficacy of testing tools, Google highlights that developers using them experience, on average, three times the number of app installs and user engagement. While attributing this success to Google's tools may be nuanced, the focus is on encouraging developers to adopt app testing practices. Going forward, app testing will be a mandatory step for developers creating new Play Console accounts, removing its optional nature.

Although an exact timeframe is not provided, Google states that new developers with individual accounts will need to test their apps with a minimum of 20 users for at least two weeks before publishing. This measure is intended to help developers identify and address issues, bugs, and collect valuable user feedback before the official app launch. The requirement is expected to be implemented in the Play Console in the coming days.

Simultaneously, current developers are now required to fulfill verification requirements, including providing a D-U-N-S number, before app publication. Google encourages developers to choose their preferred deadline in Play Console, available on a first-come, first-served basis. If no deadline is chosen before February 29, 2024, Google will automatically assign one.

In tandem with these changes, Google is intensifying its focus on the app review process, historically perceived as less stringent than Apple's. Google's review teams will dedicate more time to assess new apps for policy compliance and to prevent fraud, both within and outside the Play Store.

This strategic shift is a response to issues observed in both the App Store and Google Play in India, where predatory lending apps targeted financially vulnerable consumers. To address this, Google aims to strengthen its app review process to safeguard users from fraudulent practices.

Additionally, Google is addressing concerns related to app permissions with the upcoming release of Android 14. Developers will gain more granular permission flow options, allowing them to request access to specific photos or videos rather than the entire gallery.

While these changes are anticipated to enhance app quality and user protection, Google cautions that the more rigorous app review process may result in longer review times for certain apps, particularly those requiring specific device permissions or targeting children.

Last week, Google announced that Google Play now prominently features apps that have undergone "Independent security reviews" in its search results, starting with VPN apps.

Source: adapted from an article by Sophie Blake, Author of Archives for Mobile Marketing Reads

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