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Google 'Experts' To Screen Android Apps For Banned Content 139

An anonymous reader writes Google has announced that it will start an official human-based screening process for all of the apps featured in its Google Play store, in a bid to "better protect the community" and "improve the app catalogue." The search giant revealed yesterday that a "team of experts" would be reviewing apps and all updates offered across the Google Play platform for those which violate Google's developer policies. The team will also give direct feedback to developers on what they need to do in order to fix their apps before they can be listed on the Store. A dedicated review page will allow developers to gain further "insight into why apps were rejected or suspended," as well as offering them the opportunity to "easily fix and resubmit their apps" for those who have violated minor regulations.
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Google 'Experts' To Screen Android Apps For Banned Content

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  • Screening (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So far, I'm unimpressed with their interest in explaining and allowing corrections of minor violations. The AdMob defaults include tons of offensive advertising and you're prohibited from observing them in your testing by their T.O.S. Fixing the AdMob settings is apparently not sufficient to get Google to lower your app's content rating once the mistake has been made, not that they'll actually discuss it with you.

  • Curated Collection (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macs4all ( 973270 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @09:21PM (#49288683)
    Hmmm. Sounds like Google is moving toward the concept of a Curated Collection.

    Wonder where they would have gotten THAT Idea...?
    • So Apple lawlsuit in 3... 2... 1...
    • by puto ( 533470 )
      Apples users suggested it to Apple, so it is not an Apple iDea.
      • Apples users suggested it to Apple, so it is not an Apple iDea.

        Honestly: Citation, please?

        • by Scoth ( 879800 )

          It's a little difficult to prove direct correlation, as is the usual case with Apple product releases, but if you recall the original announcements for iPhone specifically called for it to run only Web 2.0 applications through Safari. For example [apple.com]. It wasn't until after the first jailbreaks and unofficial third party apps that the App Store came along [9to5mac.com] after weathering objections from Jobs. It's hard to conclusively say whether it was directly in response to jailbreakers or not, but it's likely it sped up the

          • It's a little difficult to prove direct correlation, as is the usual case with Apple product releases, but if you recall the original announcements for iPhone specifically called for it to run only Web 2.0 applications through Safari. For example [apple.com]. It wasn't until after the first jailbreaks and unofficial third party apps that the App Store came along [9to5mac.com] after weathering objections from Jobs. It's hard to conclusively say whether it was directly in response to jailbreakers or not, but it's likely it sped up their plans.

            After reading the 9 to 5 Mac article linked above, I conclude that it really wasn't USER backlash, but DEVELOPER (and Apple-internal) pressures that caused Jobs to embrace the idea of an SDK and App Store. But that article also makes it clear that forces inside Apple were trying to convince Jobs that it was a good idea even before the iPhone launch. The App Store officially launched in July, 2008; so there wasn't too much time wasted.

            OTOH, Google Play was launched in March, 2012 (yeah, I was surprised, to

            • OTOH, Google Play was launched in March, 2012 (yeah, I was surprised, too!) ; so, I'd still say that Apple's App Store can safely be said to have "come first"...

              Nice try there. Thanks for playing.

              It may have been renamed Google Play in March 2012 but you could get Android applications from the Android Market long before that. The original Android ADP (aka HTC Dream or T-Mobile G1) had access to the marker. Our friend Wikipedia contradicts your statement and notes the Android Market had a launch date of 22 October 2008. So only July to October difference on the launch dates which more or less makes them concurrently developed.

              • So only July to October difference on the launch dates which more or less makes them concurrently developed.

                Nice try yourself.

                ...and there were internal talks at Apple regarding the development of an App Store even before Google knew there WAS an iPhone.

                Besides, first is first. Android fanbois use that against iOS features that they claim were "stolen" by Apple ALL the time, so...

            • Google Play's origins were the Android Market, which was announced in August 2008 and launched in October 2008 [wikipedia.org] , but that doesn't preclude your statement that the Apple App Store came first.
          • if you recall the original announcements for iPhone specifically called for it to run only Web 2.0 applications through Safari.

            If Apple's original plan for iPhone resembled Mozilla's current plan for Firefox OS, then why did it take so long for Safari for iOS to support things like uploads from picture and video libraries using <input type="file">, or JavaScript access to the accelerometer, or JavaScript JIT, or WebGL?

        • The iOS developer program has a $99 per year fee plus 30 percent of sales, and only developers with a paid-up license can run code they compile on a device they own.

          The Xbox Live Indie Games developer program had a $99 per year fee plus 30 percent of sales, and only developers with a paid-up license could run code they compile on a device they own. And it launched prior to the App Store.

          • The iOS developer program has a $99 per year fee plus 30 percent of sales, and only developers with a paid-up license can run code they compile on a device they own.

            The Xbox Live Indie Games developer program had a $99 per year fee plus 30 percent of sales, and only developers with a paid-up license could run code they compile on a device they own. And it launched prior to the App Store.

            Sorry, your calendar needs adjustment.

            Community Games were introduced with the New Xbox Experience on November 19, 2008.

            The iPhone App Store opened on July 10, 2008.

            Now, I don't know about your calendar; but mine has July coming nearly a half year before November. In the tech universe, that's a significant difference.

            • by tepples ( 727027 )

              You're right: I had some of the events out of order. But when was XNA Creators Club announced, and when was the price of the iOS Developer Program announced?

    • Hmmm. Sounds like Google is moving toward the concept of a Curated Collection.

      Wonder where they would have gotten THAT Idea...?

      If you want to be that nonspecific, I will point out that was making submissions to a Curated Collection [nih.gov] a decade before Apple launched their App store for any platform. So perhaps google took the idea from the National Institutes of Health?

      • So perhaps google took the idea from the National Institutes of Health?

        Nice try.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Are you retarded? Qualcomm, AT&T, VZW, T-mobile, Sprint, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, Sega, Valve, and on, and on, and on. Do you seriously think Apple came up with a walled garden store? It's shocking how delusionional some Apple fans are. Now feel free to move the goal posts in your rebuttal.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Nothing has actually changed, they are just enforcing the existing rules a little more vigorously. Previously they relied on automated scanning and people reporting bad apps, as well as things like excessive refunds. Now they are having humans more involved somehow, but the rules on what is acceptable have not changed.

      • Nothing has actually changed, they are just enforcing the existing rules a little more vigorously. Previously they relied on automated scanning and people reporting bad apps, as well as things like excessive refunds. Now they are having humans more involved somehow, but the rules on what is acceptable have not changed.

        Maybe not "officially"; but it is still obvious that they now see that the "Curated Collection" concept, a la Apple's App Store "acceptance" procedures, is the right way to go, moving forward; and I believe that the groundwork is being laid to eventually take away that "Allow Apps from Other Places" (paraphrasing) Option in Android.

    • by Dins ( 2538550 )

      Maybe I'm just grumpy and old but the whole "Curated" thing is bugging me and seemingly came out of nowhere recently. It's a marketing move intended to lend an air of sophistication to stuff by making them think of museums or wine collections, but it's really all just "stuff that other people kinda like".

      Now get off my lawn.

      • Maybe I'm just grumpy and old but the whole "Curated" thing is bugging me and seemingly came out of nowhere recently. It's a marketing move intended to lend an air of sophistication to stuff by making them think of museums or wine collections, but it's really all just "stuff that other people kinda like".

        Now get off my lawn.

        Yes, "Curated" is a term that is dripping in "sophisticated" connotation. But it is also actually correctly used.

        But, I must correct you when you say that, in the case of the App Store, that it actually means "stuff that other people kinda like". That is incorrect. I am SURE that there are MANY Apps that make it through the approval process that the "Curators" would NEVER load onto their PERSONAL iOS devices; rather, in Apple's case, it truly IS mostly about making sure an App isn't malicious, with a smal

  • by turning in circles ( 2882659 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @09:22PM (#49288689)
    So this is telling me that the apps that Google "Features" currently are not inspected or analyzed by any humans before they become featured. "Featured," to my way of thinking, means recommended. So, currently, are algorithms recommending apps, not people? And if so, how long before algorithms recommend movies, books, music? (Currently, Wikibooks notes that "Featured books are books that the Wiki community believes to be the best . . .") [wikibooks.org]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Netflix? Pandora?

    • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:02PM (#49288849) Homepage Journal

      So this is telling me that the apps that Google "Features" currently are not inspected or analyzed by any humans before they become featured. "Featured," to my way of thinking, means recommended. So, currently, are algorithms recommending apps, not people? And if so, how long before algorithms recommend movies, books, music? (Currently, Wikibooks notes that "Featured books are books that the Wiki community believes to be the best . . .") [wikibooks.org]

      No. "Apps featured in Google Play" isn't the same as "Featured Apps in Google Play". Neither phrase was from Google, either, but from the summary.

      The summary is wrong in others ways, too. It says that Google is going to begin screening apps. The actual announcement says that this has been going on for several months. It also says that the process is "human-based", which the announcement doesn't say, just that the process "involves a team of experts who are responsible for identifying violations of our developer policies earlier in the app lifecycle." This leaves open the possibility that the team in question automates the actual screening, which is obviously much more normal for Google.

      Really, your best bet is to ignore the summary and the linked article and just read the post from Google: http://android-developers.blog... [blogspot.co.uk]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    But we should believe they can make a driverless car.

    • Finding hidden malware is considerably harder than finding pedestrians out in the open. If pedestrians were hiding themselves from traffic the way malware distributors hide their code, then Darwin would have claimed them long before a Google car does.

  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @09:55PM (#49288827)
    So will alleged conent owners begin sending DMCA requests now, and hold Google responsible? This is a two way street, it could end in a lot of legitimate apps being held hostage.
    • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

      Apps in the Play Store have always been subject to DMCA takedowns, along with the shenanigans DMCA makes possible. The "legitimate apps being held hostage" scenario already happens. For example, someone ripped off the Camfrog app [camfrog.com], then filed a false DMCA complaint alleging that the real Camfrog app was infringing. Camfrog appealed the DMCA notice, and Google responded by taking down the real app for a day or two.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        So, yeah... I read the article you linked. Camfrog took down their own app on accident:

        ...we did the only thing we could, and filed our first counter notice, to our own takedown request.

        Seems like their initial DMCA takedown request hit the wrong target; whether that was Google's fault or Camfrog's, Camfrog sent the request.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:20PM (#49288929)

    I wish Google had taken a different road:
    - help users understand permissions (e.g. Internet + SDcard = app could upload your private pictures to a remote server)
    - users get scared of apps with too many permissions
    - apps request few permissions

    Instead they entered a vicious cycle:
    - apps request more permissions
    - simplify the displayed permission list
    - apps request even more permissions

    and now we're at a stage where apps request tons of permissions they don't need, and Google needs to manually check that each app doesn't abuse the permissions that they request but don't need. Ridiculous.

    • I agree. Also if the user can grant only some of the permissions the app asks for, and be prompted when the app tries to access other stuff, so you can decide when it's warranted.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Internet + SDcard = app could upload your private pictures to a remote server

      Actually, for a long time now Android has not allowed apps to access the entire SD card, just their own data on it. To get at your photos an app needs permission to access your photos specifically. If users don't understand what Internet + Photos permission means...

    • Users in general are not going to understand permissions in general. In general, they won't be completely innocuous (otherwise why have them as permissions). The practice of listing the worst case with all permissions will get users in general to avoid looking at them entirely.

      I far prefer the iOS approach, in which permissions are asked for at the time of use, and can be granted or denied then.

  • there is a lot of crap software that is really low quality that could possibly be spyware malware, trojans for data-mining for identity theft for credit card fraud, i really dont trust google android because of the low quality crapware on Google Play, it all needs to be filtered for quality and malware and signed so every consumer will know it has not been tampered with
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      So it all needs to be treated in pretty much the exact opposite way it is treated on desktops and notebooks. Basically Goggle is cashing in walled garden and the end user and the developers expense, with a horribly crap selection system for applications and providing not much in return, other than a decent phone operating system.

      Google don't be dicks, give me an option for an alphabetic keyboard, seriously. what the fuck is so hard about that.

    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      What utter nonsense. Yes there is tons of shit in the play store. But I know that Word from microsoft is likely to be malware free if not usable. JoBobs Office clone, not so much. This is the same as if I searched on my PC or walked into brick and mortar.

      I will use my experience to tell me what is good or bad. JoBob's office may be malware. However, it may be the best thing since sliced bread, but by increasing barriers to entry, I may never know. Give me the choice please.

      If you want someone to spo

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        If you want someone to spoonfeed you what they think is good for you, that is certainly something you can do.

        The success of Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 shows that the market is happy to let multinational conglomerates "spoonfeed you what they think is good for you".

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Wednesday March 18, 2015 @10:28PM (#49288947)

    I have a rooted android phone and I install programs etc on it all the time that aren't provided or approved by google.

    In the long run, if android is to become a real operating system that must be a significant element of the android software ecosystem.

    Walled gardens are fine for those that need them but they are of limited value to those capable of getting more from their machines.

    This attempt by google to weed their garden is fine... it does not matter. So long as I can leave the garden entirely and get what I want... it matters little what is permitted inside the garden or not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You don't even need to root Android devices to install programs from outside Google Play. There's a check under Settings - Security to allow installation from sources other than Google's repositories.

      • I know... I just was adding that I had control over my machine and it does what I want.

        That is the future of any platform of relevance.

    • by camg188 ( 932324 )

      if android is to become a real operating system...

      Real? It's not fake. Number one OS for total users.

      • A general operating system should be more dynamic than what android is at this time.

        • It's an is for phones and at a pinch, tablets. There is nothing to be gained in making it general purpose. Jack of all trades = master of none.

          • The very nature of a smart phone or a tablet rejects this notion.

              Do they come preinstalled with 4 basic functions and that is all they do?

            or are they roughly as capable as similliarly powerful desktop computer?

            There's no reason to limit them.

            If the bumpkins only want to use one of the 4 preinstalled basic features that is fine. It is a little like only playing Microsoft Solitaire but whatever.

            • You're only considering functions and power. The limiting factors on phone OSs are UI, considering the limitations of screen size and input capabilities. And the user attachment time - Phone OSs concentrate on activities that take seconds, desktops on on activities that take minutes to hours.

              There's no problem with having the kernel and lower levels general purpose. But trying to make the UI/shell that is a fools errand.

              • No, I'm considering UI as well.

                As to screen size, that isn't a big problem. I have good eyes can test on remote deskop on my phone because my phone has a 1080p screen. All that you need to do is have eyes that can pick details out. And the pinch zoom feature in all such programs is entirely sufficient if I really want to get a better look at something which is rare.

                I remote into machines all the time with my phone. It isn't a big deal.

                The only input limitations that are irritating is that sometimes it is fa

                • ...isn't a big problem. I have good eyes...have eyes that can pick details out....pinch zoom...input limitations...irritating...sometimes it is faster and more accurate to have a mouse and typing with a keyboard is always faster... it is annoying to interface with it... I have a tiny bluetooth keyboard and mouse... I want my keyboard out because typing it all out using the onscreen keyboard is a pain in the ass... I need a bit more dexterity...

                  Take out the excuses, and you do see all the problems.

                  These little computers are quite capable.

                  They are absolutely amazing. And part of that amazingness is they have UIs tailored to the size and the I/O available. As general purpose computer's they'd be crap.

                  • Indeed. Airplanes don't work unless you design them to be aerodynamically stable.

                    Take that that excuse and air travel doesn't work.

                    Boats only work if they're buoyant. Take out that excuse and they don't work.

                    I see the problem. It however has solutions. It isn't an "excuse" an excuse is an attempt to shift blame. I am not shifting anything. I am solving it.

                    A solution is not an excuse.

                    You don't like my perspective on the matter? That is fine. Don't straw man me or attempt to twist my position. I am as rationa

  • Indubitably.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    As a developer who has had to deal with these motherfuckers for the past 4 years... Fuck Google and their fuckwit android team.

    They are evil, lying, exploitative, and incompetent shitbags.

  • privacy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @07:36AM (#49290491) Journal

    It would be wonderful if they'd review apps for needless privacy intrusion. Why does a radio player app need to access my camera? Why does a weather app need to access my contacts? I can't count the number of apps that I uninstalled because the new update wants nonsensical accesses....

    Anyway, I know that's not going to happen.

  • I hope they're not as expert as the guys who do the pat-downs at transport terminals.Or what you know, they'll arm a monkey with some cool-looking tool that'll go beep and ask it to click if it sees a banana or something else.
  • This isn't about app curation or walled gardens. For a long time Google has been removing apps from the app store, flagging developer accounts, and in some cases killing entire developer accounts. The process has been completely one sided with small developers having little recourse and very little understanding as to why their app was banned. They're only recourse was to guess as to what was wrong, make a change to the app, and upload it under a new id (losing all the comments, ratings, history, users) o

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