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Changes to Google Play store get rid of system app lookalikes, 'spammy notifications'

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Changes to Google's Play store clarify rules around its spam and advertising policies. Ads that "simulate or impersonate system notifications" are banned under the new rules.

Google Play Android apps
Google Play Android apps

Some changes to the Google Play store look to improve the experience for users by clarifying rules around things like spam, ad behavior, and cancellations under in-app subscription billing. Google outlines the changes to its policies in an email to developers posted by Android Central, explaining that it will be cracking down on app names and icons that are "confusingly similar" to existing system apps, as well as giving more guidance about what violates its spam policy and what kinds of dangerous products (like apps that disclose personal information without authorization) aren’t allowed on the store. The changes also clarify that while users still aren't able to get refunds when they cancel a subscription mid billing cycle, the relevant content must continue to be provided until the cycle ends.

The document adds a new section on ad behavior, as well, which Phandroid notes could be the end of things like Airpush — or KDDI’s ill-fated experiment with notification bar ads, for that matter. The updated policy makes it clear that "ads must not simulate or impersonate system notifications or warnings." Google says that all new apps will be subject to the changes, and any existing apps found to be in violation after a 30-day grace period could be removed from the store.