Google made two changes to the approvals process of Google Play - as detailed in a blog post.
The first is a new age-rating system that will require Android developers to complete a questionnaire about their game’s content before it is published, instead of just choosing the rating themselves.
The news is in conjunction with PEGI’s announcement that it is expanding its rating system to include mobile storefronts across Europe as part of the recently established International Age Rating Coalition (IARC).
A similar deal has been agreed in North America with the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
Google has worked closely with these authorities to design and implement the new system. It hopes that it will help developers design the right apps for the right audience, bearing in mind that different countries will have different expectations of appropriateness for children.
Any apps on Google Play that have not completed the questionnaire will be marked “unrated” and will be blocked in certain countries.
Developers wishing to submit new apps or update old ones from May will need to complete the questionnaire, which flags content including sex, violence, drugs, gambling and terrorism support.
Under the microscope
Secondly, the company blog post also announced that all apps will be subject to an internal team of reviewers.
In other words, Google will now manually test and review each app available in its store with the aim of uncovering malware and policy violators.
The new system was in fact quietly rolled out a couple of months ago, though it seems no one had even noticed the switch.
Google will now scan apps for viruses and misdemeanours using automated software. If something fishy is flagged, human reviewers will jump in to take a closer look.