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InfoQ Homepage News Android Apps Are Now Reviewed by Tools and Humans

Android Apps Are Now Reviewed by Tools and Humans

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Google has quietly introduced an app reviewing process that monitors new apps or updates for policy violations. This process uses automatic tools and sometimes human reviewers that add a few hours of delay in the publishing process.

From the beginning Apple introduced a review process to make sure that junk apps and those violating their policy do not see the light of the App Store. Not following trend, initially Google let Android developers publish their apps right away, letting the market to decide on the quality of the apps and intervening afterwards if a certain app was in violation of a Play rule. But this is no longer the case.

According to this post, for the last several months, Google has deployed and enforced a reviewing process that went about unnoticed by developers. Most of the process is automatically done by tools, but flagged apps are being reviewed by a team of human experts. They are targeting viruses, malware, explicit sexual content, copyright infringement and other policy violations. And that makes sense considering that there have been some reports regarding especially malware and copyright infringement.

Unlike Apple’s process which that from a few days to more than a week, Google’s reviewing process introduces a delay of a few hours before an update becomes live on Play. But the quicker process is not as “robust” as Apple’s, admitted Purnima Kochikar, Director of Business Development for Google Play, in an interview with Tech Crunch.

The process addresses both new apps and old ones, and Google has made available a new publishing status visible in the Developer Console. Unpublished, Rejected or Removed come accompanied by explanations on why the app is in the respective state along with advice on what can be done to fix it. The harshest penalty seem to be when an app is suspended, the developer getting an email with more details. For the other cases, the developer can attempt to fix the problem and republish the app right away. Maybe this new process will also address the problems some developers encountered when their app was taken down for some violation without being able to fix it first. Even if they could repackage the app and publish it as a new app, they lost all their users while doing so. There are at least two online petitions related to this issue (petition 1, petition 2), and personal stories such as this.

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