In the latest updates of the Google Play Terms of Services, the technology giant announced the welcome development that it will allow real money gambling apps in 15 additional jurisdictions effective from 1 March, writes Stuart Godfree, Managing Director at mkodo.
With much of the industry previously restricted to Apple’s platform, this move triggered many operators to reconsider its app strategy and a process to develop and deploy real-money gambling apps to Android users began.
While this process was expected to take some time as Google must approve the content from a compliance point of view before launch, another update in the latest terms around Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and what type of data an app harvests from a device now seems to have further delayed the roll-out.
The new guidelines around PII are significant and revolve around the leakage of data from apps, often caused by third-party APIs. An Android app now must be fully transparent and declare to the user what information it is collecting and sharing.
In an unprecedented move, Google is now reviewing ALL existing apps in its Play Store and retrospectively applying the new privacy regulation and immediately pulling apps that do not meet the new criteria and require a new submission.
This is significant for several reasons. Firstly, Google has previously been allowing the community to self-regulate and has taken a laxer approach to the content on its open platform, resulting in it being called “the Wild West” by some.
Secondly, Google applying the new guidelines retrospectively to existing apps that have not yet been updated to reflect the latest rules, immediately removing them from Play Store, is further demonstrating that it is introducing a stricter stance on compliance and privacy in particular.
In comparison, Apple invariably gives providers in breach of its guidelines a grace period to remediate before an app is pulled.
The fact that Google is now reviewing all existing apps as well as new submissions has had a knock-on effect on the time it takes to launch a new product to Google Play, and it will be a while yet until we see a wave of new real-money gambling apps on the platform.
The reason for this new approach is not yet obvious but Apple has long been known for its strict approach around privacy and data and it seems that Google is now starting to realise that they also need to play in the same ballpark.
Although the delays we are currently seeing are not particularly onerous, it is a sizeable change from Google’s previous approach and might surprise some who are expecting the deployment of an app to be a smooth and straightforward process, particularly compared with Apple.
Overall, the development should be positive as it will protect users from erroneous apps. Treating personal information securely is something that all companies need to start respecting and it can no longer be assumed that once someone is using an app, firms have free and unencumbered access to any level of information.
Equally, if this is a company’s modus operandi, they must declare it in the privacy statement to ensure consumers understand what information that can be accessed and what it will be used for.
Nevertheless, this sea change from Google is significant and the new regime is one operators and developers must take into consideration when planning their Android strategy going forward.