Google Play updates and information: Resources for developers

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Posted by Sam Tolomei, Business Development Manager, Google Play

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. With a surge in need for information, communications tools, entertainment, and more, we are striving to ensure our operations run smoothly, and we need your support.

Below, we’ve pulled together some important information to help you maintain business continuity, as well as best practices to help you stay nimble in the changing landscape.

Extended app review times

Like many of you, we’ve had to manage work disruptions as a result of changing business conditions. This has led to a temporary slowing down of the app review process, which now may take 7 days or longer. As the situation evolves, we will continue to make sure that the most important updates reach users quickly, which may result in fluctuating review times. Certain critical apps may receive prioritized review and may not experience an extended delay in review time. Please check the Google Play Console for the most up-to-date information and guidance.

At the same time, in order to help ensure we are providing users with accurate and timely information relating to COVID-19, we also are prioritizing the review of apps published, commissioned, or authorized by official government entities and public health organizations.

If you want to control when your app goes live, we recommend timed publishing. Just submit your app for review, and once it’s approved, click “Go live” in the Play Console to instantly publish your app. Note: If you already have a release submitted to the production track that is under review, you will not see the “timed publishing” option.

Store listing guidelines

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.

Removing inappropriate reviews

With the recent increase in traffic, some apps are seeing a spike in inappropriate one-star reviews from users. If you are receiving reviews that are not related to your app experience, you can flag the review in the Play Console. We’ve expanded our ability to assess and remove inappropriate reviews so we can handle your request as quickly as possible.

Subscriptions support

While subscriptions are a large part of many app business models, two groups are currently seeing the largest impact: 1) those whose core businesses have been adversely affected by COVID-19 (such as live event ticketing), and 2) those who provide a public service with their content or services.

For developers whose business value proposition has been affected, features like deferred billing and subscription pauses can help retain users until after the crisis has passed. For developers who want to offer their content or services like medical, online learning, and wellbeing apps at reduced or no cost, features like price changes and refunds through Google Play Billing are available to help.

Learn more best practices in our Medium post.

How we’re helping the community

Google is also committed to helping our community at large. To help small businesses reconnect with their customers, Google is granting $340 million in ad credits to be used across our Google Ads platforms — learn more here.

Here’s what else we’re doing:

  • We’ve launched a special coronavirus section on Google Play with resources to help users find information from trusted sources.
  • We’ve extended Google Play Pass free trials to 30 days so more people can enjoy your apps and games.
  • We’ve launched a $10 million Distance Learning Fund to support organizations that provide high-quality learning opportunities to children. Developers who are non-profit, education-related enterprises are eligible for this program. Stay tuned for more details from Google.org.
  • Finally, with your help, we’ve raised over $290,000 for The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s COVID-19 Response Fund, supporting organizations on the ground with preparedness, containment, response, and recovery. Visit play.google.com/donate to contribute.

As the situation progresses, we will continue to gather more resources to help you. We’re also taking steps to limit changes and barriers because we know you have enough on your plate right now. Please stay tuned for more information, and thank you for being a part of the Google Play community. If you have any other suggestions about how we can support you during this time, please let us know by tweeting at us at @GooglePlayDev with #AskGooglePlay.

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