The current health situation is a crisis of global proportion, and people, authorities, and organizations over the world unite to fight the virus. However, there always are individuals who want to exploit even such a grim situation. Many tech companies vowed to fight COVID-19 misinformation, launching features like chatbots, hubs, and info centers. Now Google is taking yet another step in this direction with new rules for approving apps on the Play Store."In these unprecedented times, Google Play's mission to support you, ensure your businesses continue to operate well, and help users get the content they need is more important than ever,"
wrote the company on its official blog
. The most significant change is that Google will only approve COVID-19-related apps if a government or a health organization is backing them.
"At Google Play, we take our responsibility to provide accurate and relevant information for our users very seriously. For that reason, we are currently only approving apps that reference COVID-19 or related terms in their store listing if the app is published, commissioned, or authorized by an official government entity or public health organization, and the app does not contain any monetization mechanisms such as ads, in-app products, or in-app donations. This includes references in places such as the app title, description, release notes, or screenshots."
Last month Google warned that app reviews might take longer than usual
with quoted times "7 days or longer". In the current blog post, the company is confirming these delays due to "work disruptions as a result of changing business conditions.".
Developers will also have the option to flag negative, one-star reviews if they feel the ratings are not related to the user experience.