Play Store app policy changes go after deceptive subscriptions, preparation of Android 11 location permissions

Play Store app policy changes go after deceptive subscriptions, preparation of Android 11 location permissions

The Play Store has a problem with slow apps that overload customers for basic functionality via subscriptions. Many people often don't even realize that they sign up for expensive plans due to apps highlighting free trials, conveniently concealing that they automatically turn into paid subscriptions. To combat these frauds, Google will introduce new policies on the Play Store that will require developers to disclose exactly the amount and amount of their billing from June 16, while the company will also send emails warning customers before testing turn into paid subscriptions. The updated policies also prepare for a change in location permissions in Android 11 – developers must obtain approval from Google before being allowed to access location in the background.


Google writes that in the future, developers will have to specify "if a subscription is required to use all or part of the application". If so, the pay prompt should be easily dismissed. An application must also explicitly indicate the cost of the subscription and the frequency of the billing cycle. When free trials are involved, developers will also have to add how long it will last, what it will cost when converting, what is included with the free trial and how a user can cancel if he does not want to be converted into a paid subscriber. In short: apps that simply say "click here for a 3-day free trial" are no longer acceptable.

If you're still not paying attention to these detailed descriptions when you sign up for a trial, Google has added another safety net. Before a free trial or the end of your introductory price, you will receive an email notifying you that you will be billed in the future. The same goes for people who subscribe to 3-month, 6-month or annual plans – they will be notified when their renewal arrives. Google also announced another game change: "We inform active subscribers who uninstall the application that uninstalling does not automatically unsubscribe them from the service."

While developers may lose some customers in the short term, the changes are more than welcome for consumers and should reduce the risk of getting scammed from the Play Store. Before, you need to remember to cancel the subscriptions yourself, but email reminders and uninstall notifications from Google should help you stay on top of your money before it's too late. It's just a disappointment that it took so long to implement these policy changes – these protections should have been in place from the start and could have saved many people a ton of money.


Historically, Android has not been effective in protecting your privacy, but the latest versions of the operating system have changed that: Android 9 has introduced more granular phone permissions and Android 10 allows you to prevent apps from get your location when they are in the background. Android 11 is expected to step up this game and only allow access to the background in the background for applications on Google’s whitelist, as announced in February.

The policy is live now and developers can familiarize themselves with the changes before they take effect in November 2020 (or August 2020 for new applications). To access the location in the background, they must submit their Google application and clearly explain why their product needs constant access – advertising or analysis is not accepted as the sole objective. They must also add important information to their applications, explaining to users what they are using the data for. (Ideally, the preinstalled apps didn't do this.)

Limiting location permissions in the background is a good idea, but let's hope Google makes it easier to purchase exemptions from legitimate apps. Google’s approach to SMS authorizations last year has definitely broken some useful and very popular applications.

Google has also updated its policies on deceptive content and apps to emphasize that apps "are clear about their behavior once downloaded and to prevent manipulated content (ie" deepfakes ") are available on the web. Play store."