There is an app for just about everything these days. Problem is, is that while most apps are free initially, they may try and hook you into a subscription the way many games lure you in with microtransactions and it can create a bad user experience. Google is looking to make a stand against some of the more deceptive developers out there (a full report by Android Police reveals some of the dodgy practices followed by app developers) and have announced (as reported in The Verge) a series of new policies to make Android’s in-app subscriptions more transparent to users
Starting on June 16, apps will have to be clear about the terms of their paid subscriptions, and free trials and will need to provide a transparent way for users to cancel them. In addition to the rules for app developers, the Google Play Store is also providing more information to users directly, notifying them when free trials end or when long-term paid subscriptions are about to renew so that they can act as required if they don’t want to be stuck with an unintended subscription fee.
The big focus for Google is really one on transparency and something which they intend to emphasise more on with apps in the Play Store, including new rules around background location access and exactly how apps will intend to make use of this data.
It’s not clear exactly how Google will penalise companies that infringe on these rules. While there will be changes to the app approval process, Google still tends to do most of this through automated bots and so there is still a chance that things could slip through the cracks. Hopefully though, many of the developer behaviours will start to change over time.
Last Updated: April 17, 2020