Tag Archives: Play Store

Understanding our Play gambling policies in India

Google Play is designed to provide a safe and secure experience for our consumers while also giving developers the platform and tools they need to build sustainable businesses. Our global policies have always been designed with that goal in mind, considering the good of all our stakeholders. 


We have the same goals for our gambling policy. We don’t allow online casinos or support any unregulated gambling apps that facilitate sports betting. This includes if an app leads consumers to an external website that allows them to participate in paid tournaments to win real money or cash prizes, it is a violation of our policies. 


We have these policies to protect users from potential harm. When an app violates these policies, we notify the developer of the violation and remove the app from Google Play until the developer brings the app into compliance. And in the case where there are repeated policy violations, we may take more serious action which may include terminating Google Play Developer accounts. Our policies are applied and enforced on all developers consistently.


We actively engage with our developer community for feedback while we define and refine our policies. Together, we will continue to create a safe and secure mobile app ecosystem for everyone. For more details on our policies, please take a look at our policy page which provides more details on the types of content in which regions are permitted.


Posted by Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy

Bringing internet access to millions more Indians with Jio



Today we signed an agreement to invest $4.5 billion (INR 33,737 crore) in Jio Platforms Ltd, taking a 7.73 percent stake in the company, pending regulatory review in India. This is the first investment from the Google For India Digitization Fund announced earlier this week, which aims to accelerate India’s digital economy over the next five to seven years through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments. 


Google and Jio Platforms have entered into a commercial agreement to jointly develop an entry-level affordable smartphone with optimizations to the Android operating system and the Play Store. Together we are excited to rethink, from the ground up, how millions of users in India can become owners of smartphones. This effort will unlock new opportunities, further power the vibrant ecosystem of applications and push innovation to drive growth for the new Indian economy.


This partnership comes at an exciting but critical stage in India’s digitization. It’s been amazing to see the changes in technology and network plans that have enabled more than half a billion Indians to get online. At the same time, the majority of people in India still don’t have access to the internet, and fewer still own a smartphone—so there’s much more work ahead. 


Our mission with Android has always been to bring the power of computing to everyone, and we’ve been humbled by the way Indians have embraced Android over recent years. We think the time is right to increase our commitment to India significantly, in collaboration with local companies, and this partnership with Jio is the first step. We want to work with Jio and other leaders in the local ecosystem to ensure that smartphones—together with the apps and services in the Play Store—are within reach for many more Indians across the country. And we believe the pace of Indian innovation means that the experiences we create for India can ultimately be expanded to the rest of the world.  


For Google, our work in India goes to the heart of our efforts to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible. We opened our first Indian campuses in Bangalore and Hyderabad in 2004. Since then, we’ve made India central to our Next Billion Users initiative—designed to ensure the internet is useful for people coming online for the first time. We’ve improved our apps and services so they’re relevant in more Indian languages and created offline versions for those facing network constraints. We’ve extended our tools to small businesses, sought to close digital divides with initiatives like Internet Saathi, and we’re increasingly focused on helping India harness AI. More and more, apps we create for India—like Google Pay or our Read Along language-learning app—influence what we do globally. 


Jio, for its part, has made an extraordinary contribution to India’s technological progress over the past decade. Its investments to expand telecommunications infrastructure, low-cost phones and affordable internet have changed the way its hundreds of millions of subscribers find news and information, communicate with one another, use services and run businesses. Today, Jio is increasing its focus on the development of areas like digital services, education, healthcare and entertainment that can support economic growth and social inclusion at a critical time in the country’s history. 


In partnership, we can draw on each other’s strengths. We look forward to bringing smartphone access to more Indians—and exploring the many ways we can work together to improve Indians’ lives and advance India’s digital economy.

Posted by Sanjay Gupta, Country Head & VP, India, and Sameer Samat, VP, Product Management

How we fought bad apps and malicious developers in 2019

Posted by Andrew Ahn, Product Manager, Google Play + Android App Safety

Google Play connects users with great digital experiences to help them be more productive and entertained, as well as providing app developers with tools to reach billions of users around the globe. Such a thriving ecosystem can only be achieved and sustained when trust and safety is one of its key foundations. Over the last few years we’ve made the trust and safety of Google Play a top priority, and have continued our investments and improvements in our abuse detection systems, policies, and teams to fight against bad apps and malicious actors.

In 2019, we continued to strengthen our policies (especially to better protect kids and families), continued to improve our developer approval process, initiated a deeper collaboration with security industry partners through the App Defense Alliance, enhanced our machine learning detection systems analyzing an app’s code, metadata, and user engagement signals for any suspicious content or behaviors, as well as scaling the number and the depth of manual reviews. The combination of these efforts have resulted in a much cleaner Play Store:

  • Google Play released a new policy in 2018 to stop apps from unnecessarily accessing privacy-sensitive SMS and Call Log data. We saw a significant, 98% decrease in apps accessing SMS and Call Log data as developers partnered with us to update their apps and protect users. The remaining 2% are comprised of apps that require SMS and Call Log data to perform their core function.
  • One of the best ways to protect users from bad apps is to keep those apps out of the Play Store in the first place. Our improved vetting mechanisms stopped over 790,000 policy-violating app submissions before they were ever published to the Play Store.
  • Similarly to our SMS and Call Log policy, we also enacted a policy to better protect families in May 2019. After putting this in place, we worked with developers to update or remove tens of thousands of apps, making the Play Store a safer place for everyone.

In addition we’ve launched a refreshed Google Play Protect experience, our built-in malware protection for Android devices. Google Play Protect scans over 100B apps everyday, providing users with information about potential security issues and actions they can take to keep their devices safe and secure. Last year, Google Play Protect also prevented more than 1.9B malware installs from non-Google Play sources.

While we are proud of what we were able to achieve in partnership with our developer community, we know there is more work to be done. Adversarial bad actors will continue to devise new ways to evade our detection systems and put users in harm's way for their own gains. Our commitment in building the world's safest and most helpful app platform will continue in 2020, and we will continue to invest in the key app safety areas mentioned in last year’s blog post:

  • Strengthening app safety policies to protect user privacy
  • Faster detection of bad actors and blocking repeat offenders
  • Detecting and removing apps with harmful content and behaviors

Our teams of passionate product managers, engineers, policy experts, and operations leaders will continue to work with the developer community to accelerate the pace of innovation, and deliver a safer app store to billions of Android users worldwide.

Introducing Google Play Points in the U.S.

Posted by Paul Feng, Product Manager, Google Play

three mobile displays with apps At Google Play, we continue to build new experiences to delight users and help developers succeed. Today, we’re excited to announce that the Google Play Points rewards program is expanding to the United States following successful launches in Japan and Korea, where millions of people have already enrolled. The program is designed to show appreciation to our users and help increase engagement with your games and apps.

Google Play Points rewards users for any purchase they make on Play — including apps, games, in-app items, music, movies, books, and subscriptions - and for downloading select apps and games. For all developers, if you’re on Play billing, users will earn points on your apps and games immediately.

Play Points can then be redeemed for unique rewards like special items and discounts in Candy Crush, Homescapes, Lords Mobile and many others. We’re fortunate to be working with a select group of developers to offer these rewards for the U.S. launch — including Niantic, King, Electronic Arts, Playrix, Jam City, Kabam, Ludia, Kongregate, and others. Users can also redeem their points for Google Play Credit, and spend it on your app or game just as they do today.

Users are finding value in our initial Play Points markets, Japan and Korea, and developers there are incredibly happy with the results. In the future, we look forward to working with additional partners to deliver more unique rewards to users as Google Play Points evolves.

Google Play Points is rolling out in the US over the next few days. If you’d like to enroll as a user in the program, open the Play Store app on your Android device, tap menu, then tap Play Points to get started.

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A new way to pay on Google Play Store — via UPI

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The Google Play Store helps people find their favorite apps, games, movies, TV shows, music, books and more, on the device of their choice. With more than 2 billion active users in 190+ countries around the world, Play is also an important distribution platform for developers to build a global audience.


Indian app developers are already building successful businesses on the Google Play Store, offering a range of great apps across categories, and we are committed to helping them grow. One way to make this happen is to make it even easier for people to pay for apps and in-app content, which is why we are pleased to add Unified Payment Interface (UPI) as a new payment method to the existing roster of credit or debit card, net banking, direct carrier billing, and gift cards options.
UPI has grown over 50 times since its launch in August 2017, clocking 918 million transactions in August 2019 alone. A payment system that enables transfers, directly from one bank account to another, its ease and convenience has helped it outpace all other forms of digital payment in India. Users across the country are now choosing UPI for everything from utility bill payments, mobile recharges, in-store transactions and much more, and we’re pleased to bring its convenience to millions of users on Google Play.


Over the next few weeks on the Play Store in India, UPI will show up as a new payment option for purchasing apps, games, and in-app content using your preferred UPI app including BHIM, Google Pay, Paytm and PhonePe. Simply link your UPI ID (VPA or Virtual Payment Address) in Google Play Store Billing, and use your bank account to conveniently make app and in-app purchases.


The addition of UPI as a payment option on the Google Play Store allows even more people to enjoy premium apps, games, and in-app content, while helping developers and creators reach a wider audience for their apps and content.

Posted by Saurabh Agarwal, Head of Google Play Retail & Payments Activation - India, Vietnam & New Zealand

Supporting Google Play developers regarding local market withholding tax regulations

Posted by Gloria On, Program Manager, Google Play

Many developers are increasingly focused on growing their businesses globally, and there were more than 94 billion apps downloaded from Google Play in the last year, reaching more than 190 countries. The regulatory environment is frequently changing in local markets, and in some countries local governments have implemented withholding tax requirements on transactions with which Google or our payment processor partners must comply. We strive to help both developers and Google meet local tax requirements in markets where we do business, and where Google or our payment processor partners are required to withhold taxes, we may need to deduct those amounts from our payments to developers.

Due to new requirements in some markets, we'll be rolling out withholding taxes soon to all those doing business in those countries. We wanted to bring this to the attention of Google Play developers to allow you time to prepare for these upcoming changes and take any necessary measures to meet these obligations. We strongly recommend developers consult with a professional tax advisor on your individual tax implications in affected markets and for guidance on the potential impact on your business so that you can make any necessary preparations.

The first countries where we will roll out these changes will be Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Myanmar. You can refer to the Google Play help center page to stay informed on future updates and changes.

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Indie Games Accelerator – Applications open for class of 2019

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Last year we announced the Indie Games Accelerator, a special edition of Launchpad Accelerator, to help top indie game developers from emerging markets achieve their full potential on Google Play. Our team of program mentors had an amazing time coaching some of the best gaming talent from India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia. We’re very encouraged by the positive feedback we received for the program and are excited to bring it back in 2019.

Applications for the class of 2019 are now open, and we’re happy to announce that we are expanding the program to developers from select countries* in Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.




Successful participants will be invited to attend two gaming bootcamps, all-expenses-paid at the Google Asia-Pacific office in Singapore, where they will receive personalized mentorship from Google teams and industry experts. Additional benefits include Google hardware, invites to exclusive Google and industry events and more.

Find out more about the program and apply to be a part of it.


* The competition is open to developers from the following countries: Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Posted by Anuj Gulati, Developer Marketing Manager and Sami Kizilbash, Developer Relations Program Manager

How we fought bad apps and malicious developers in 2018

Posted by Andrew Ahn, Product Manager, Google Play

Google Play is committed to providing a secure and safe platform for billions of Android users on their journey discovering and experiencing the apps they love and enjoy. To deliver against this commitment, we worked last year to improve our abuse detection technologies and systems, and significantly increased our team of product managers, engineers, policy experts, and operations leaders to fight against bad actors.

In 2018, we introduced a series of new policies to protect users from new abuse trends, detected and removed malicious developers faster, and stopped more malicious apps from entering the Google Play Store than ever before. The number of rejected app submissions increased by more than 55 percent, and we increased app suspensions by more than 66 percent. These increases can be attributed to our continued efforts to tighten policies to reduce the number of harmful apps on the Play Store, as well as our investments in automated protections and human review processes that play critical roles in identifying and enforcing on bad apps.

In addition to identifying and stopping bad apps from entering the Play Store, our Google Play Protect system now scans over 50 billion apps on users' devices each day to make sure apps installed on the device aren't behaving in harmful ways. With such protection, apps from Google Play are eight times less likely to harm a user's device than Android apps from other sources.

Here are some areas we've been focusing on in the last year and that will continue to be a priority for us in 2019:

Protecting User Privacy

Protecting users' data and privacy is a critical factor in building user trust. We've long required developers to limit their device permission requests to what's necessary to provide the features of an app. Also, to help users understand how their data is being used, we've required developers to provide prominent disclosures about the collection and use of sensitive user data. Last year, we rejected or removed tens of thousands of apps that weren't in compliance with Play's policies related to user data and privacy.

In October 2018, we announced a new policy restricting the use of the SMS and Call Log permissions to a limited number of cases, such as where an app has been selected as the user's default app for making calls or sending text messages. We've recently started to remove apps from Google Play that violate this policy. We plan to introduce additional policies for device permissions and user data throughout 2019.

Developer integrity

We find that over 80% of severe policy violations are conducted by repeat offenders and abusive developer networks. When malicious developers are banned, they often create new accounts or buy developer accounts on the black market in order to come back to Google Play. We've further enhanced our clustering and account matching technologies, and by combining these technologies with the expertise of our human reviewers, we've made it more difficult for spammy developer networks to gain installs by blocking their apps from being published in the first place.

Harmful app contents and behaviors

As mentioned in last year's blog post, we fought against hundreds of thousands of impersonators, apps with inappropriate content, and Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs). In a continued fight against these types of apps, not only do we apply advanced machine learning models to spot suspicious apps, we also conduct static and dynamic analyses, intelligently use user engagement and feedback data, and leverage skilled human reviews, which have helped in finding more bad apps with higher accuracy and efficiency.

Despite our enhanced and added layers of defense against bad apps, we know bad actors will continue to try to evade our systems by changing their tactics and cloaking bad behaviors. We will continue to enhance our capabilities to counter such adversarial behavior, and work relentlessly to provide our users with a secure and safe app store.

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In reviews we trust — Making Google Play ratings and reviews more trustworthy

Posted by Fei Ye, Software Engineer and Kazushi Nagayama, Ninja Spamologist

Google Play ratings and reviews are extremely important in helping users decide which apps to install. Unfortunately, fake and misleading reviews can undermine users' trust in those ratings. User trust is a top priority for us at Google Play, and we are continuously working to make sure that the ratings and reviews shown in our store are not being manipulated.

There are various ways in which ratings and reviews may violate our developer guidelines:

  • Bad content: Reviews that are profane, hateful, or off-topic.
  • Fake ratings: Ratings and reviews meant to manipulate an app's average rating or top reviews. We've seen different approaches to manipulate the average rating; from 5-star attacks to positively boost an app's average rating, to 1-star attacks to influence it negatively.
  • Incentivized ratings: Ratings and reviews given by real humans in exchange for money or valuable items.

When we see these, we take action on the app itself, as well as the review or rating in question.

In 2018, the Google Play Trust & Safety teams deployed a system that combines human intelligence with machine learning to detect and enforce policy violations in ratings and reviews. A team of engineers and analysts closely monitor and study suspicious activities in Play's ratings and reviews, and improve the model's precision and recall on a regular basis. We also regularly ask skilled reviewers to check the decisions made by our models for quality assurance.

It's a big job. To give you a sense of the volume we manage, here are some numbers from a recent week:

  • Millions of reviews and ratings detected and removed from the Play Store.
  • Thousands of bad apps identified due to suspicious reviews and rating activities on them.

Our team can do a lot, but we need your help to keep Google Play a safe and trusted place for apps and games.

If you're a developer, you can help us by doing the following:

  • Don't buy fake or incentivized ratings.
  • Don't run campaigns, in-app or otherwise, like "Give us 5 stars and we'll give you this in-app item!" That counts as incentivized ratings, and it's prohibited by policy.
  • Do read the Google Play Developer Policy to make sure you are not inadvertently making violations.

Example of a violation: incentivized ratings is not allowed

If you're a user, you can follow these simple guidelines as well:

  • Don't accept or receive money or goods (even virtual ones) in exchange for reviews and ratings.
  • Don't use profanity to criticize an app or game; keep your feedback constructive.
  • Don't post gibberish, hateful, sexual, profane or off-topic reviews; they simply aren't allowed.
  • Do read the comment posting policy. It's pretty concise and talks about all the things you should consider when posting a review to the public.

Finally, if you find bad ratings and reviews on Google Play, help us improve by sending your feedback! Users can mark the review as "Spam" and developers can submit feedback through the Play Console.

Tooltip to flag the review as Spam.

Thanks for helping us keep Google Play a safe and trusted place to discover some of the world's best apps and games.

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Calling all Google Play fans: Vote for your favorite content of 2018

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For the last several years, Google Play has celebrated the best content in the Store, including top apps, games and movies. This year, we want to hear from you. For the first time, we’re introducing the Fan Favorite category as part of our “Best of Play” yearly list.


Starting today, it’s time for you to vote! Pick the winners from a shortlist of the year’s most loved and trending titles across apps, games and movies, including Quizlet, Candy Crush Friends Saga and Incredibles 2. To select your Fan Favorites of 2018, head over to this page and cast your vote before the polls close on November 26th.


And the fun doesn’t stop there. The Fan Favorite winners, along with the rest of the Best of 2018 picks from our Google Play Editors, will be announced on December 3rd. So stay tuned!


Posted by Brett Bouchard, Global Head of Editorial, Google Play