Spammy Android apps have started to become a pretty big nuisance to a lot of different people. One that comes to mind is a popular auto-tuning app – while it’s fun to play around with it, and it certainly gave my friends and me some good laughs, I didn’t appreciate getting ads in my notification tray. After the third ad, I uninstalled it.
But at least it was courteous enough to not hide the fact that it was the app spamming me. Some apps actually try to impersonate system notifications, or even make changes to various system settings without your consent. How rude.
Luckily, Google updated its Play Store developer policies yesterday, and with those updates come some welcome changes. Most notably, it looks like that Airpush-style advertising I mentioned might now be banned, or at least advertising that hides which app is causing it. It also appears that apps which change your settings without your consent might also be banned. Finally, apps cannot make use of names or icons that are too similar to Android system apps – I’m not quite sure how Facebook Messenger is going to fare now.
But these changes are certainly welcome and could not have come at a better time. Indeed, I’m happy to see that Google is doing what it can to restore a bit of order to the Play Store, while still keeping it as open and uncensored as possible. A little regulation can be a good thing, as long as Google doesn’t take it too far.
Over the coming days and weeks, we should hopefully start to see app developers being a bit more honest about the permissions they request and the ways in which they include advertising. And that is definitely a good thing.