Google will now screen Android apps before they're released to the Play Store
Android isn’t quite the bastion of freedom it once was.
Google announced today that software distributed through its Play Store, the main app marketplace used by Android devices, will be reviewed before they are made available to download.
Apple has always done something similar with its App Store to ensure that the software available on iOS devices doesn’t run afoul of its strict rules. Google, on the other hand, previously allowed developers to push apps to the Play Store without delay.
Google explains the changes to its policies in a blog post:
Several months ago, we began reviewing apps before they are published on Google Play to better protect the community and improve the app catalog. This new process involves a team of experts who are responsible for identifying violations of our developer policies earlier in the app lifecycle. We value the rapid innovation and iteration that is unique to Google Play, and will continue to help developers get their products to market within a matter of hours after submission, rather than days or weeks. In fact, there has been no noticeable change for developers during the rollout.Android users can still install applications from other software marketplaces, or directly from developers, so it’s not like Google has locked the platform down like Apple has with iOS. But it’s no longer the Wild West it was just a few months ago.
Most consumers should welcome this change. It will make it harder for developers to sneak malware into the Play Store, and given the amount of malicious software on the marketplace, that could end up helping hundreds of thousands of Android users.
App sellers have to choose between offering a “walled garden” they control, which could mitigate risks to consumers, and offering a freer marketplace that could be filled with malware.
The Play Store was originally on the wilder side of that fence. This change, however, shows that the company thinks building a small fence around the platform might be in everyone’s interest. Android’s not as walled-off as iOS, but the wall’s still there.