To comply with consumer protection laws, according to this leaked communication, Google will be changing some of its Google Play Store policies and features. While the ability to see a list of price ranges for apps with in-app purchases is definitely a welcome development, displaying a developer’s physical address might scare off not just a few from publishing on Google Play Store.
In-app purchases have been the bane of app stores, not just Google’s but including Apple’s and Amazon’s. Currently, Google Play Store does display if an app has in-app purchases but stops at that. Then again, Google’s wording below is a bit ambiguous and can be a bit open to interpretation. What will that list contain? Will it list top apps with IAP just like Google Play Store lists top free and paid apps? Or will it list the IAP purchases inside an app, which is a more difficult thing to keep track off. We will just have to wait for Google to formally roll out these changes to find out.
“We will display the price ranges for apps that offer in-app purchases and/or subscriptions on the app’s store listing page.”
The other more major change affects developers more than users. The developer console is now requiring developers that provide paid apps or apps with IAP to give a physical address. That in itself is probably nothing surprising, as it increases the sense of accountability for an app and could very well help curb the number of fake apps with IAP. However, what follows the requirement is the part that’s more worrying for developers. Google says that the physical address will be displayed on the app’s details page in Google Play Store, definitely a cause for concern about the privacy, not to mention the safety of the developer.
“Beginning September 30, 2014, you need to add a physical address to your Settings page. After you’ve added an address, it will be available on your app’s detail page to all users on Google Play.”
Aside from the address requirement, the rest of the changes, or the reasons for them, are not yet set in stone. The information comes from a developer who asked Google why such a worrying change is being made. While it is commendable that Google is actively working to protect consumers (though some might point out only after it has been hit by numerous lawsuits), It should not forget to also fairly treat its developers, who provides the goods that users will be paying for, and not like criminals in the making.