Google Play To Evaluate Apps, Give Age Ratings

"The game you're about to download has been ratedEU." That warning and others might be coming soon, with all Google Play apps getting age-based content ratings. The ratings will be decided by Google reviewers before the apps are made available on Google Play.

Google experts have already begun to evaluate apps over the last several months, prior to letting them into the Google store. If the apps do not violate developer policies, Google said, the apps are added to Google Play within hours of submission. Among the content excluded by the developer policies are sexually explicit material, gratuitous violence, hate speech, gambling, dangerous products, spam, and infringement of intellectual property.

Categories Prohibited

The moves give Google more control over what makes it into its store and gives users and parents a closer look at an app's content. Google long allowed apps into its store without any human oversight, but that led to criticism that the policy left the door open for inappropriate content -- even while giving developers quick access to the growing number of Android users.

Google said Tuesday that it is introducing age-based ratings for Google Play's Android apps and games. Google won't develop its own age-based ratings, though, choosing instead to use rating systems already in use across the world -- for example, the Entertainment Software Rating Board ratings employed by the games industry in the United States.

Outside the U.S., Google will follow the lead of Pan-European Game Information, Australian Classification Board, Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle and ClassificaĆ§Ć£o Indicativa. Territories not covered by a specific ratings authority will display a generic, age-based rating.

Apple Is Ahead

Apple has reviewed apps prior to allowing them for sale ever since the iTunes App Store opened in 2008. That process can take several weeks, if not months, to the chagrin of developers who sometimes have to make numerous...

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