Google revealed yesterday on their Android Developer blog that a new program called “Designed For Families” will be coming to Google Play. This will let app publishers opt into a new “stringent legal and policy” review system in order to have their apps labeled “family-friendly”. Developers can opt in their apps through the Google Play Developer Console.
Google Play already features developers like Tynker, Crayola and PBS Kids, but these apps are mixed in with others that aren’t necessarily as family friendly as they are. Google wants to change this by having these apps comply with COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), although Google’s own YouTube For Kids app has already come under fire in relation to advertising.
Behavioral advertising, which includes ads based on in-app activity will be banned in these family friendly apps, as well as remarking and interest-based advertising. Apps will be limited to showing no more than one ad per page, and these ads must be easily discernible from app content.
These apps will also need to meet the ESRB’s ratings for “Everyone” or “Everyone 10+”, a system that Google has already rolled out for all apps. Other policies that apps need to comply with include various content policies, the Developer Distribution Agreement, and the Designed For Families DDA Addendum.
Once this program is fully implemented, Google will promote family friendly apps on Google Play, but the company isn’t saying how it will do so, or when the program will be complete. It’s likely that a new category will be added to the list of other categories in the App Section of Google Play. It makes sense that Google would also enabled Parental Controls on Android to limit kids’ access to only these family friendly apps.
This new move by Google is similar to Apple’s Kids section in the App Store. These apps are also screened to meet privacy and advertising guidelines. Google as also implemented a review process for apps, but instead of relying on human reviewers like Apple, Google is able to automate some parts of the process, making it more streamlined and faster for developers to get their apps on Google Play without waiting weeks.
Developers who do not follow these guidelines may find their apps removed from Google Play, and their accounts banned if they continue to violate the standards.