Google is cracking down on scammy Play Store app listings

By Jon Porter

An example of the kind of listing that will be prohibited under the new policy.
Image: Google

Google has announced new Play Store policies and guidelines designed to make app listings more succinct, accurate, and less of an eyesore. New guidelines affecting the screenshots and videos meant to demonstrate an app’s features and functionality will come into force in the second half of 2021, while specific details about the enforcement of new policies for app titles, icons, and descriptions are coming “later this year.”

The new app metadata policies will ban a variety of tricks that app developers use to make their app listings excessively eye-catching. Writing words in all-caps will no longer be allowed unless it’s the name of a brand, and neither will including emoji in app names. App titles will be limited to 30 characters, and they can’t “incentivize installs” by including a phrase like “download now.” Trying to promote deals by including a “Sale” banner in an app icon is also being banned.

Incentivizing installs via an app’s title is being banned.
Image: Google
As is implying an app is top-ranked.
Image: Google

Google calls this week’s blog post a “pre-announcement” designed to help developers plan for the upcoming changes. However, when the policies governing app title, icon, and developer name come into effect, Google says that apps that violate the policies “will not be allowed on Google Play.” It says that more details on the changes will arrive later in the year.

Separately, the new guidelines about app preview assets will come into effect in the second half of the year. These guidelines ask that graphics, videos, and short descriptions “accurately represent” apps and games, “provide enough information” to users, don’t use buzzwords like “free” or “best,” and are localized correctly. “Assets that don’t meet our guidelines may be ineligible for promotion and recommendation on major Google Play surfaces like Apps and Games home,” Google says.