Get ready for Google Play policy changes | BitBakery Software

Get ready for Google Play policy changes

August 19th, 2021 by Ryan Sweny

Keeping up with the latest news and changes in APIs, tools, and frameworks is a core part of mobile app development. But designing, building, and maintaining mobile applications doesn’t end at compiling. Platform development programs and app storefronts from Google and Apple have policy and procedure changes that affect your application’s availability for your customers.

Earlier this month, Google announced a set of policy updates for their Google Play Developer Program. As always, we’ve gone through these updates with a fine-toothed comb to let our clients know what changes are needed for their apps. 

We believe sharing is caring -so here’s what you need to know from the latest Google Play Developer Program policy updates.

New app requirements

Starting this month, any new app submitted to the Google Play store will need to target API level 30 — that’s Android 11. 

In addition to the new API level, all new apps must use the Android App Bundle publishing format. This new format is designed to reduce the app bundle size when a user downloads an app to their device. With standard APKs, the bundle included all the graphic files for different size device screens, from smaller smartphones to large display tablets. With the Android App Bundle, only the required graphic files are downloaded. This speeds up the download process for end-users and reduces the amount of data needed.

Existing applications don’t require either of these changes yet, but we’re planning to target API level 30 for future app updates regardless of the requirement.

Updated application policies

One significant change with this policy update is that apps need to justify any special app permissions they request on a user’s device. For example, if a submitted app requests access to a user’s contact list, you would need to provide the use of that data and why the app cannot work without it. 

When you’re submitting an app, the Google Play Developer Console has a new wizard that will walk you through the process. This policy applies to permissions, including location, contact list, and more.

Protecting your user’s privacy is critical to building trust. With the new policy updates, all new and existing apps will also require a privacy policy.

Provide testing credentials

The Apple Developer program has had this requirement for several years, and Google is now adding the feature as part of the app submission process. If any part of your app requires a user to login — including an account, location-based authentication, or other forms of authentication — you will need to provide test credentials as part of the submission process. 

The requirement for testing credentials starts on September 1, 2021. If you do not provide this information, Google will assume your app doesn’t have a login function. But if your app does and you don’t provide the testing credentials, then future app updates may be rejected, or your app may be removed from the Google Play store.

Android billing

Starting on November 1, 2021, all app updates must use Billing Library version 3 or newer. We have one project that uses a Cordova plugin that hasn’t had an update in several years. We’re in the process of replacing that now in advance of the deadline.

Change to app revenue 

If your app is a paid app in the Google Play store, there is a new update to how developers share revenue. The latest change introduces a 15% share with Google for the first $1,000,000 in revenue, which changes to the standard 30% after the first million.

There is a catch — developers have to opt-in for this new 15% revenue share. It’s not an automatic change to your Google Play developer console.

Advertising ID / Tracking

Another new change following Apple’s lead is the introduction of changes to how apps can track what users do outside the app. Google has introduced a unique Advertising ID. Instead of using something like the device MAC address, developers can use the new ID to identify users without compromising their privacy. 

What’s next

Our clients trust us to be on top of API, framework, and policy changes to keep their mobile apps up-to-date and continually deliver exceptional experiences for their customers. We’re happy to set up a call to discuss more about your needs and how BitBakery can help your business today.

Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

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