Google is finally tackling spam apps in the Play Store

In the iOS vs Android war, the quality of the apps is one of the key weapons - and Google has announced that it’s taking extra steps to crack down on developers that resort to using illicit methods to try and improve the popularity of their apps. 

With thousands of apps being released each day, some developers try to manipulate the Play Store’s content discovery system and improve their apps placement by posting fake reviews, garnering incentivized ratings, or artificially inflated install numbers. 

These practices violate Google’s developer policy, but in the competitive furnace of the Play Store it’s certainly not uncommon, but helps further the notion that Google's portal is more of a 'Wild West' than Apple's serene walled garden.

The manipulation of the Play Store system also makes it harder for legitimate developers to get noticed and undermines the integrity of Google’s Play store. 

Even more significantly, it can leave users open to downloading spam and fraudulent apps if feeding them inaccurate information. 

Increased security

Google says its newly enhanced detection and filtering systems will “protect the integrity of the store” by directly combating these attempts at manipulation. 

How exactly will it do this? Well, Google isn’t exactly clear on the exact processes for obvious reasons, but it does say “If an install is conducted with the intention to manipulate an app's placement on Google Play, our systems will detect and filter it.” 

Further to this, if developers are found to be repeatedly engaging in this kind of behaviour they could have their apps removed from Google Play entirely. 

Google has said that in the majority of cases it probably won’t need to take any action. However, it advises that if any developers are or are considering using a third-party service to market their app, they should ensure that its promotion “is based on legitimate practices.” 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.