Google has recently updated it’s unwanted software policy, and this is something all Android users should be happy about.
For far too long, the world of Android apps has seemed like the wild west, where anything goes. In all honesty, it hasn’t just seemed like it, that’s exactly how it’s been. But Google has been attempting to tame the wild, at least within it’s own Google Play Store. This latest Unwanted Software Policy update is a welcome addition.
The new policy is broken into 5 parts.
Transparent Installation and Upfront Disclosure
The software installation process should be straightforward, easy-to-understand, and based on clear choices made by the user. It should present a clear value proposition to the user
This is something that shouldn’t need to be said. Apps need to do what the apps say they will do, and nothing more. Any changes to the phone’s settings or functions need to be clearly described to the user, and the user must agree to these changes, before installation is complete.
It should be easy for users to disable or uninstall software.
I wish Windows had this rule. Apps must have a clear and simple way to be removed, and the removal must be complete. There can also be no threats or warnings about uninstalling the app, this is something I personally have never seen. I hope they make it to where it doesn’t try to guilt you into keeping the app as well. How many button presses does it take to remove Facebook apps? Entirely too many.
Once installed, software should behave as expected and deliver a clear value proposition to the user.
Quite simply, apps shouldn’t be doing something which the user doesn’t know about, or doesn’t want. No false or misleading information being shown, no messing with other applications, no updates without letting the user know.
Software that collects or transmits a user’s personal information must be transparent about doing so.
This will probably be the most important part to most of our users. Our personal information is valuable, we all know that. We know that the collection of this information is an industry in itself. We also know that while some of us are completely opposed to our information being bought and sold wholesale, we also know that the vast majority of users have little care about it, and will gladly give up everything to use the latest app. What we’ve always hoped for was that people could make an informed decision about what they’re giving up, and sadly, much of the time, there’s just simply not enough information provided to us by these apps to make a truly informed decision. Google want’s to change that, and now demands that apps be transparent about what information they are collecting.
Keeping Good Company
This has more to do with app developers making nice with other app developers. Bundling third party software requires proper bundling authorization.
I’m extremely happy about Google’s update, and I’m sure that we shall see many developers scrambling to ensure they comply with these rules, and probably many more apps disappearing from the app store from those developers that don’t comply.
I’m guessing Facebook won’t be very happy about needing to inform users about what is being snooped.